Republicans are ready to push ahead with a vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh after becoming frustrated with his accuser, who has rebuffed numerous chances they have offered her to tell her story.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said he is sticking with his plan to hold a hearing Monday to give Christine Blasey Ford a chance to detail her accusation that Judge Kavanaugh attempted a sexual assault against her when they were both teenagers — climbing onto her, attempting to strip off her clothes and stifling her cries for help.
The judge has vehemently denied the accusations, as have others Ms. Blasey Ford says were witnesses. She, meanwhile, has backed away from her calls for a public chance to tell her story, saying now that she first wants the FBI to investigate the judge and to set her own timing for a hearing.
Mr. Grassley rejected that, telling Democrats and Ms. Blasey Ford’s attorney to either use or lose Monday’s opportunity to tell her story to the lawmakers who will decide Judge Kavanaugh’s fate. He gave her a 10 a.m. Friday deadline to submit a written statement “if she intends to testify” Monday.
“It would be a disservice to Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, this committee, and the American people to delay this hearing any further,” Mr. Grassley said in a letter to committee Democrats.
His fellow Republicans are increasingly miffed at Ms. Blasey Ford’s actions.
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She first complained in a July letter about the judge but demanded anonymity — though she hired an attorney and arranged to take a lie detector test in August. Democrats did not take official action but apparently leaked her accusations to the press. She then went public and asked for a chance to tell her story.
But she has rebuffed Judiciary Committee efforts this week to schedule a call with investigators, has rejected offers for an open or closed hearing, and has refused to have investigators meet her in person in California.
Moderate Republican senators who said earlier this week that they wanted to hear from Ms. Blasey Ford before proceeding on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote now have changed course.
Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said Mr. Grassley has handled the matter properly and has been fair to the judge and his accuser. He said if Ms. Blasey Ford doesn’t show up to testify, then the Senate should move on with the nomination.
“Let’s vote,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, told CNN on Tuesday night that the Senate will soon have to move ahead with a vote.
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Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, told WVOM radio that Ms. Blasey Ford has been given plenty of good options and should choose one of them.
“I just don’t understand why the hearing shouldn’t go forward,” said Ms. Collins, adding that her preference would be a public committee hearing rather than a closed-door session.
In a statement late Wednesday, attorney Lisa Banks said her client would cooperate in “a full nonpartisan investigation,” but then said the committee’s plan doesn’t meet that term. She didn’t flatly say that Ms. Blasey Ford wouldn’t appear.
Mr. Grassley’s plan to call just the two principals “is not a fair or good faith investigation” and the committee should call multiple witnesses, Ms. Banks said, though she didn’t name any other potential witnesses.
In other contexts, Ms. Blasey Ford had specified at least two witnesses. She said Mark Judge was in the room when she was assaulted and reportedly said a “P.J.” was at the underage drinking party sometime one summer of the early 1980s.
Mr. Judge emphatically denied having any memory of the purported incident and did not think it a credible account of the young Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior, though he also said he will not appear before the committee because he has nothing to say.
According to a CNN report Wednesday, fellow Georgetown Prep student Patrick J. Smyth sent the Judiciary Committee a note saying that while “I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford” as being at the party she described in a Washington Post interview, “I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”
Several senators indicated that should Ms. Blasey Ford decline to appear, there won’t be a hearing and the Judiciary Committee would move forward without testimony.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the committee, said Wednesday that a vote should be held “ASAP,” rejecting Ms. Blasey Ford’s attempt to name her own preconditions for testifying.
“Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” he posted on Twitter.
Democrats say Republicans are rushing to a conclusion and say the details Ms. Blasey Ford alleges deserve more than a hearing set up to be a he-said-she-said affair. Committee Democrats have said they want other witnesses called to testify in what would be a full investigation of the decades-old claim.
Ms. Blasey Ford has echoed those calls and said she wants the FBI to step in despite the bureau’s reluctance.
Republicans accused Ms. Blasey Ford and Democrats of moving the goal posts as they continue to search for ways to derail Judge Kavanaugh’s path to the high court.
President Trump said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, created the mess by receiving Ms. Blasey Ford’s letter containing the accusations in July but not acting on them until last week.
Mr. Grassley called on Ms. Feinstein on Wednesday to hand over the letter to Republicans on the committee. He said all they have is the FBI’s redacted letter, which was placed in Judge Kavanaugh’s file.
Still, Mr. Trump said he wanted Ms. Blasey Ford to testify.
“I’d really want to see her. I really would want to see what she has to say,” he said. “If she shows up, that would be wonderful. If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”
Ms. Feinstein, though, defended her actions Wednesday, saying on Twitter that she respected Ms. Blasey Ford’s request for confidentiality until the “media outed her.” She also argued that an FBI investigation would be appropriate.
“The FBI routinely investigates allegations like Dr. Ford’s. They did it with Anita Hill’s allegations 27 years ago and they did it this year with allegations against Rob Porter. The FBI needs to investigate and the Senate needs to wait until that’s done,” she tweeted.
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, tweeted that “Dr. Blasey Ford is calling for an impartial FBI investigation of her serious and credible allegations. Meanwhile Republicans are trying to bully her into a rigged hearing before a neutral investigation and without the only identified eyewitness.”
A poll found support for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation dropped since his hearing earlier this month and since Ms. Blasey Ford’s accusations became public.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll surveying more than 2,000 adults from Sept. 11-17 found more women are opposing the nominee since a poll taken month earlier. Thirty-three percent of women oppose Judge Kavanaugh, while only 31 percent of the adults said they supported his nomination.