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Kavanaugh accuser given more time to make decision about testifying

Last Updated Sep 22, 2018 12:22 AM EDT

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said late Friday that Christine Blasey Ford will have one more day to decide if she will testify before the committee. An attorney for Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, requested the extra day in a letter sent shortly before a 10 p.m. deadline that Grassley had set.

"Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate," Grassley tweeted shortly before midnight. "She shld decide so we can move on I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It's not my normal approach to b indecisive."

Grassely added in another tweet: "With all the extensions we give Dr Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate I feel like I'm playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor."

Ford's attorney, Debra Katz, said the deadline had been "arbitrarily imposed."

"The imposition of aggressive and artificial deadlines regarding the date and conditions of any hearing has created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and stress on Dr. Ford," Katz wrote in the letter. "Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate."

Grassley had said Ford could testify Wednesday -- a day earlier than she requested, but also two days later than the day the committee had originally scheduled.

The committee is also proposing that Ford testify before Kavanaugh, as opposed to after, as requested by Katz.

Katz wrote that she had advised the committee that Ford had traveled to meet with the FBI "for several hours" about the death threats she has been receiving. Because of that, Katz said they would need until Saturday to "confer" before she can provide the committee with a "well-considered response."

"Rather than allowing her the time she needs to respond to the take-it-or-leave-it demand you conveyed, you sent us an email at 5:47 p.m. - which you again gave to the media first - insisting that we accept your 'invitation' for a Wednesday hearing by 10:00 p.m. tonight," Katz wrote.

President Trump weighed in on the matter Friday Morning, firing off his first tweets about the allegation. He said that if the "attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed" with the police "by either her or her loving parents."

"I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!" Mr. Trump tweeted. 

The president has commented on the Kavanaugh allegation throughout the week, praising his Supreme Court pick's integrity and intellect, while declining to attack Ford. On Friday, the president questioned why no one contacted the FBI "36 years ago," after Democrats have urged the FBI to open an investigation into Ford. 

"The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW. Why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?" Mr. Trump tweeted. 

On Friday, the president also claimed that Kavanaugh is "under assault by radical left wing politicians." 

"Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don't want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don't matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.," Mr. Trump wrote. 

Grassley declined an earlier request by Ford to have the FBI investigate her allegation against Kavanaugh. The FBI has included the allegation in Kavanaugh's background file, and is not opening any additional probe at this time, although the president could theoretically direct the FBI to undertake a further review. The president said he trusts the Senate to do its job. 

Grassley said in a tweet Thursday that committee investigators have been following up on the leads from Ford's allegations and from news stories. "No other OUTSIDE investigation is necessary for the Cmte to do its investigation," Grassley's tweet read.

Ford's initial list of terms for her testimony before the committee, according to CBS News' Jan Crawford and Adam Verdugo, included the following:

  • Ford will not appear any sooner than next Thursday;
  • No questions to be asked at hearing by any outside counsel -- only senators;
  • Mark Judge must be subpoenaed;
  • Kavanaugh would testify first, then Ford would testify, and Kavanaugh would have no opportunity to respond or rebut;
  • Deadline for her to provide written statement before the hearing would be waived;
  • Provide adequate security;
  • Only one pool camera in hearing room; 
  • Ford and Kavanaugh allotted the same amount of time to talk

Senate GOP provides counteroffer to Ford's terms

CBS News has confirmed that Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee provided a counteroffer to Ford, and the committee had asked her to respond by 5 p.m. Friday to accept the terms, before extending the deadline. Conditions of the counteroffer include:

  • The hearing will be held on Wednesday rather than Thursday;
  • An outside counsel will question Ford;
  • Ford will speak before Kavanaugh;
  • Only one pool camera in the hearing room;
  • Kavanaugh and Ford will be in separate rooms

Judiciary Committee Democrats criticized these terms in a letter sent to Grassley Friday afternoon. 

"Now that it appears the Committee may be holding a hearing potentially as soon as next Thursday, we need to ensure the hearing is fair, impartial, and designed to uncover the truth. This means the Committee should at a minimum hear from the FBI, the individual who administered Dr. Ford's polygraph test, and all witnesses to the event. This includes Mark Judge, each of the individuals Republican staff have contacted, and other relevant witnesses. There is simply no reason not to hear all the facts," the letter reads. "The Committee should also hear from character witnesses for Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford - it is only fair to both - as well as from outside experts who can speak to these allegations. We will submit a list of minority witnesses we would like to call in the next day." 

McConnell says not acting on Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination was his most consequential act in Senate

The Senate majority leader told social conservatives at the Values Voter summit Friday that his decision not to act on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia was the most consequential thing he has done in the Senate. To substantial applause, McConnell complimented President Trump for appointing judges to district and circuit courts and touted the number of judges confirmed and the brisk pace at which the Senate is confirming these judges.

McConnell predicted that the Senate will "plow right through" and confirm Kavanaugh, whose confirmation process has been slowed by the recent revelation of a sexual assault allegation against him. McConnell suggested this would not impact his eventual confirmation, though. "In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court," he said. -- By Jack Turman

Female friends and former colleagues of Kavanaugh defend him

Women who have known Kavanaugh for decades showed up in force on Friday at a downtown Washington press conference to assert that Ford's "allegation isn't true and Brett Kavanaugh is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court." Maura Fitzgerald, who says she dated him briefly in college said she's known him for over 35 years, and the sexual assault allegation is "inconsistent with everything I have known about him as  a person." He has, she said "always been kind and good-natured" and "concerned with the well-being of others." He was "the kind of guy you wanted to take home to meet your parents."

The message across the board from these women was "that's not the Brett I know." Their testimonials about Kavanaugh sounded similar themes: He dated them or their friends or their sisters. He was unfailingly polite and always thoughtful, a compassionate presence for them when they experienced the loss of a family member or friend. He coaches their children. He is a man of great intellect and ability, and he should be able to take his seat on the court.