Kavanaugh’s accuser agrees to testify before Senate on sexual assault claim

Kavanaugh’s accuser agrees to testify before Senate on sexual assault claim

Ford "accepts the Committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week", said a message from her lawyers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, US media reported.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley granted Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys an extension to decide whether she'll speak to lawmakers about her claim that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s. "We are hopeful that we can reach agreement on details".

A senior official at the White House said the letter amounts to "an ask to continue "negotiations" without committing to anything".

"We know that allegations of sexual assault are some of the most under-reported crimes that exist", Collins said. "The White House sees this as not an acceptance".

Kavanaugh's confirmation appears to turn mostly on the support or opposition of three Republican senators: Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is on the Judiciary panel that Republicans control 11-10; Susan Collins of ME, who is pro-choice; and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who also is pro-choice and comes from a state where the governor and lieutenant governor oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation.

"Worth noting that this is exactly where we were on Monday morning", he said on Twitter.

If she refuses to speak with the committee before an FBI investigation, then the Monday hearing will likely be called off and a vote will take place toward the end of next week.

Ford's accusations of Kavanaugh's behaviour 35 years ago and the standoff over the terms of her appearance have captivated the nation as the appeals court judge's confirmation hangs in balance. Kavanaugh has denied doing this and said he wants to appear before the committee as soon as possible to clear his name.

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Time is running out for Trump to get his hand-picked conservative judge confirmed - thereby tilting the Supreme Court firmly to the right for years to come - before November elections when Republicans risk losing control of Congress. Katz had said the deadline was "aggressive and artificial". The lawyer, Debra Katz, also scolded the senators for displaying what she called a "cavalier" attitude toward a "sexual assault survivor".

More women were found to have opposed Kavanaugh's nomination in the Reuters/Ipsos poll (33 percent), a 7 percentage point rise from a month earlier. Democrats have demanded more time for scrutiny, and Republicans want to move ahead quickly with a confirmation vote in an increasingly volatile political climate ahead of congressional elections on November 6.

Christine Blasey Ford's decision followed days of negotiations and came after Trump turned against her and said her accusation could not be true.

"I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr Ford was as bad as she says", Trump wrote Friday on Twitter, "charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents".

Vice-President Mike Pence backed Kavanaugh in a speech at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, praising the nominee as a man of integrity with impeccable credentials.

Earlier, Trump had said Ford should be heard, even if it meant a delay in the confirmation process. The committee's 11 Republicans - all men - have been seeking an outside female attorney to interrogate Ford, mindful of the election- season impression that could be left by men trying to pick apart a woman's assertion of a sexual attack. Moderate female voters will be pivotal in many races in the elections and the #MeToo movement has elevated the political potency of how women alleging abuse are treated.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter it sent to Ford's attorneys on Friday in which it accepted some of their demands, including that Kavanaugh not be in the room when she testifies.

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