Christine Blasey Ford says she might testify against Kavanaugh

Woman who claims supreme court nominee assaulted her wants to give evidence

US judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies at his supreme court confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 5th. Photograph: The New York Times

US judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies at his supreme court confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 5th. Photograph: The New York Times

 

The woman accusing US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says she could testify against him after all, breathing new life into the prospect of a dramatic Senate showdown next week.

Christine Blasey Ford — who claims Mr Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school — wants to give evidence next Thursday, and does not want him in the same room, her lawyer told Judiciary Committee staff.

She is willing to tell her story to the committee — whose senators will vote on Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation — but only if agreement can be reached on “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety”, the lawyer said.

She said Ford needs time to secure her family, prepare her evidence and travel to Washington.

The discussion revived the possibility that the panel would hold an electrifying campaign-season hearing at which Ms Ford and President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could give their versions of what happened at a party in the 1980s.

Mr Kavanaugh, now a judge on the powerful US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has repeatedly denied her allegation.

The accusation has jarred the 53-year-old conservative jurist’s prospects for winning confirmation, which until Ms Ford’s emergence last week had seemed all but certain.

It has also bloomed into a broader clash over whether women alleging abuse are taken seriously by men and how both political parties address such claims with the advent of the #MeToo movement — a theme that could echo in this November’s elections for control of Congress.

The Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley, has scheduled a hearing for Monday morning, and he and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have indicated it would be Ms Ford’s only chance to make her case.

Republicans are anxious to move ahead to a vote by the committee, where they hold an 11-10 majority, and then by the full Senate, which they control 51-49.

Taylor Foy, spokesman for Republicans on the panel, said after the call that Mr Grassley “will consult with his colleagues on the committee. He remains committed to providing a fair forum for both Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh”.

Lawyer Debra Katz said Ms Ford (51) a psychology professor in California, has received death threats and for safety reasons has relocated her family.

“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” Ms Katz said.

She has asked the committee to subpoena Mark Judge, whom Ms Ford has named as the other teenager in the room at the time of the incident. Mr Judge has told the committee he does not recall the incident and does not want to speak publicly. – AP