Washington, USA: With Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on the line, Senate Republicans must decide whether to wait to hear from the woman who accuses him of sexual assault or push ahead with a hearing on Monday and risk female voters’ ire in November.
A lawyer for the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, asked the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to push back a hearing on her claims until Sept. 27 and take testimony from additional witnesses.
Earlier on Thursday, Kavanaugh said in a letter to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, that he was prepared to come before the panel on Monday to “clear my name” of the allegation.
“I will be there,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hangs in the balance. With November 6 elections approaching that will determine control of the House and Senate, Republicans are under intense pressure to consider the allegations in a way that doesn’t turn women and independents away from the party while moving the nomination forward as quickly as possible, as President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders want.
The move by Ford’s lawyer sought to end a deadlock over the terms of testimony on her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in the early 1980s when both were high school students. Kavanaugh denies any attack occurred, and Republicans had appeared poised to seek a confirmation vote as early as next week if she didn’t agree to testify on Monday.
Kavanaugh said in his letter, “I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name.” He added, “Since the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it. I remain committed to defending my integrity.”
Democrats have demanded a delay in the hearing to allow time for the FBI to investigate Ford’s claim. Trump has said he won’t ask the FBI to reopen its background probe of Kavanaugh.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said at a campaign event in Webster, Texas, on Thursday night that “even if the Democrats are playing games, and it is clear they are playing games, the allegations still deserve to be treated with respect.”
Democrats in Washington sought Thursday to turn up the heat on the GOP for an FBI probe of Ford’s allegation, recommending that she not testify Monday under Republicans’ current plan to hear only from her and Kavanaugh.