Brett Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify, says lawyer
Christine Blasey Ford says Trump’s supreme court nominee sexually assaulted her in 1982
Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: categorically denied the allegations of an attack last week after a New Yorker article published details of the alleged incident without including the name of the accuser. Photograph: Alex Wroblewski/Reuters
All ten Democrats on the US Senate judiciary committee have called on the Senate to postpone a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the supreme court, amid deepening concern within Republican circles that President Donald Trump’s nominee could be in jeopardy following sexual assault allegations.
The development comes as a lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman at the centre of claims about Mr Kavanaugh, said her client would be prepared to testify before the committee.
Ms Ford broke her silence on Sunday in an interview with the Washington Post, claiming that Mr Kavanaugh assaulted her when both were high school students.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a senior Democrat on the committee, first brought the issue into the public domain last week when she announced that she was referring information relating to Mr Kavanaugh to federal investigators.
While it quickly emerged that the information related to an alleged sexual impropriety involving Mr Kavanaugh, on Sunday Ms Blasey Ford, an academic in California, chose to speak publicly. She claims that Mr Kavanaugh, when a high school student in Washington DC, pinned her to a bed, groped her and covered her mouth to stop her from screaming.
Mr Kavanaugh, who was spotted entering the White House on Monday morning, issued a fresh statement on Monday, protesting his innocence.
“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday,” he said in the statement issued by the White House.
“I am willing to talk to the Senate judiciary committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
But in a sign of the seriousness with which Republicans are viewing the issue, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday that Mr Kavanaugh’s accuser “should be heard”, though she criticised Democrats for not disclosing the information they had earlier.
“This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored,” Ms Conway said at the White House. “I’ve spoken with the president, I’ve spoken with Senator Graham and others. This woman will be heard.”
The controversy has thrown Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination process into disarray.
The Senate judiciary committee is due to vote on his nomination on Thursday, but now faces calls from Democrats for the hearing to be postponed.
A spokesman for Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the judiciary committee, indicated on Monday morning that the committee would initiate follow-up calls with both Mr Kavanaugh and his accuser, rather than request Ms Ford to attend a hearing, but these plans could change.
With Republicans holding a majority of just one in the US Senate, focus is now turning to two moderate Republicans in the chamber, Susan Maine and Lisa Murkowski, who have not yet publicly said if they will vote for Mr Kavanaugh.