Ford’s lawyers say she accepts request to speak to Judiciary Committee next week, but details need to be worked out
CNN September 22, 2018 2:55 pm09/22/2018 02:55pm
The message from Ford's lawyers did not, however, agree to a specified date and time for Ford to speak to the committee and said that "many aspects" of an earlier proposal by the committee was "fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee's promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations."
By Phil Mattingly, Dana Bash, Manu Raju, Devan Cole, Sunlen Serfaty and Clare Foran, CNN
(CNN) — Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a past sexual assault, told Senate Judiciary Committee staff on Saturday that Ford “accepts” the request to speak to the panel next week about the alleged incident.
“Dr. Ford accepts the Committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys representing Ford, wrote in a message to the committee.
The message did not, however, agree to a specified date and time for Ford to speak to the committee and said that “many aspects” of an earlier proposal by the committee was “fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations.”
The lawyers asked in their message to “set up a time for later this afternoon to continue our negotiations.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley agreed late Friday night to allow the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more time to decide whether to testify before Congress.
Grassley tweeted that he “granted another extension” to Christine Blasey Ford, saying “she (should) decide so we can move on. I want to hear her.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee had given Ford’s attorneys a deadline of 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday to respond with their decision, a committee source confirmed to CNN.
The panel has proposed holding a hearing next Wednesday in which it would hear testimony from both Kavanaugh and Ford, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Kavanaugh has denied the sexual assault allegation.
The committee earlier Friday had set a deadline of 5 p.m. ET for Ford to decide, later extending that to 10 p.m. In response, Debra Katz, who is representing Ford, wrote in a letter to the committee that its “cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate.”
Calling the deadline arbitrary, Katz wrote in a letter that “our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make her decision.”
Had Ford’s lawyers not responded to the proposal or if Ford decided not to testify by the deadline, Grassley said, the committee would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused Republicans of “bullying a survivor of attempted rape in order to confirm a nominee” by saying they will vote Monday on the nomination if they don’t reach an agreement with Ford and her lawyers for her to testify.
“It’s clear that Republicans have learned nothing over the last 27 years. Bullying a survivor of attempted rape in order to confirm a nominee — particularly at a time when she’s receiving death threats — is an extreme abuse of power,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I’m shocked and appalled by the Republicans’ refusal to wait 24 hours for a hearing and instead rush forward with a vote on Monday. From the outset Republicans have tried to push through this nomination at all costs.”
Max Young, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said, “At approximately 2:30 Republicans sent her a proposal and gave her a 5 p.m. deadline. Shortly after they wrote her, she responded and said I need 24 hours to talk to my client. At 6:30 they gave her a 10 p.m. deadline. … At this point, the Senate has shown significantly more deference to Facebook and Google’s hearing-scheduling requests than to Ford’s.”
Ford’s lawyers said Thursday night that Ford wouldn’t be able to get to Washington before next Thursday because of all that her family is dealing with, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
The proposed hearing, according to three sources, would include an outside counsel who would ask questions. The proposal calls for Ford to testify first and Kavanaugh second.
The order of testimonies is the opposite of what Ford, through her lawyers, has requested, according to a senior congressional source.
Another source told CNN that Republicans are dealing with internal disagreements about whether they should use an outside counsel. Multiple senior members of the committee are pushing for one, while others are less interested, according to the source, making it unclear whether this will make it into the final proposal to Ford.
Her lawyers previously suggested that the committee’s senators question their client, not an outside counsel.
A Senate Republican aide told CNN Friday that a special counsel would prevent the politicization of Ford’s questioning.
“Senate Democrats rightly said that the Senate should not bully Dr. Ford … the way to depoliticize that and ensure that is with an outside counsel,” they said.
But the use of an outside counsel is receiving pushback from Senate Democrats. An aide to a member of the Senate’s Democratic leadership told CNN that, “outside counsel doesn’t vote on Kavanaugh. Senators do. Republicans need to do their jobs and not hide.”