Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser willing to testify against him

Christine Blasey Ford asks for more time to continue negotiating details of appearance

A vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is scheduled for Monday. Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is scheduled for Monday. Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

 

The woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers said on Saturday she is willing to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

However Christine Blasey Ford asked for more time to continue negotiating the details of her appearance. So it is now up to committee chairman Senator Charles Grassley to decide whether to grant the additional time or move ahead with a vote on Mr Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination which is scheduled for Monday.

In a letter to the committee lawyers for Ms Blasey Ford said they were hopeful that an agreement could be reached on the details and asked to schedule further talks. Ms Blasey’s representatives said that she wanted to appear before the committee on Thursday, but that detail had not been finalised.

The move by Ms Blasey (51) – a research psychologist in Northern California – came after an extended back-and-forth between her lawyers and top committee aides.

Her testimony would set up a potentially explosive showdown after days of uncertainty over whether she would appear at a hearing. It could also greatly complicate matters for Mr Kavanaugh, who has vigorously denied Ms Blasey’s allegations and just last week seemed destined for confirmation.

Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said that he has enough votes, but with at least two Republicans in the Senate undecided and with the party holding only a 51-49 majority, confirmation is hardly assured.

Anita Hill testifies during the Clarence Thomas harassment hearings in Washington, October 11th, 1991. Photograph: Paul Hosefros/The New York Times
Anita Hill testifies during the Clarence Thomas harassment hearings in Washington, October 11th, 1991. Photograph: Paul Hosefros/The New York Times

Ms Blasey’s accusations, coming just days before the committee was initially set to vote on Mr Kavanaugh, have rocked official Washington. They evoke memories of the 1991 confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by law professor Anita Hill. And they have further energised Democrats and women particularly, in a midterm election in which Republicans are struggling to court the female vote.

Over the past week, Ms Blasey has become a cultural touchstone for women countrywide in the era of the #MeToo movement. A hashtag, #IBelieveChristine, has sprung up on Twitter and survivors of sexual assault are set to rally in New York on Monday. A Facebook post promoting the rally said that “New York City stands with Dr Blasey Ford and all sexual assault survivors”.

The intense attention on Ms Blasey’s accusation continued to reverberate on Capitol Hill on Saturday in unexpected ways. A communications adviser to Senator Grassley, who had joined the committee temporarily to help shape messaging around Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation, stepped down from his position after NBC News raised questions about an accusation that he sexually harassed a co-worker in a previous political job.

The adviser, Garrett Ventry, said the sexual harassment claim against him was false. Committee spokesman Taylor Foy noted the denial of wrongdoing, but said Mr Ventry had decided to stand aside “to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee”. – The New York Times