- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer said Thursday she does want to testify to the Senate next week about her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, as long as she is given assurances about her safety and the fairness of the proceedings.

But she said Monday won’t work for Ms. Blasey Ford due to security concerns, rejecting the day Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley has set for the showdown. Instead, she is eyeing Thursday.

“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” Debra Katz, Ms. Blasey Ford’s attorney wrote in an email to the committee.

Republicans continued to prepare for a hearing, with two sources saying lawmakers were eyeing asking a nonpartisan outside lawyer to conduct the questioning of Ms. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

That could avoid the spectacle of male senators being forced into a testy back-and-forth with the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh when they were both high school students.

But one senior Senate aide told The Washington Times, Ms. Blasey Ford prefers to be quizzed by the lawmakers. She also doesn’t want to testify in the same room as Judge Kavanaugh, insists that witnesses she says were present at the time of the attack be subpoenaed and also wishes to have no time limit placed on her opening statement.

“The committee doesn’t issue subpoenas in the process of considering nominations — that is a nonstarter. Other alleged witnesses have made clear they have no intention of testifying,” the senior staffer told The Times. “It only makes sense for the accused to respond to the charges so Judge Kavanaugh would surely follow Dr. Ford.”

It’s not clear whether GOP senators are receptive to her lawyers’ requests for a different date.

“We are happy that Dr. Ford’s attorneys are now engaging with the committee,” Taylor Foy, a spokesman for the committee, told The Associated Press.

The committee’s GOP staff had been trying to reach Ms. Blasey Ford and her lawyers in the days since she went public with her accusation.

They say they have offered her the chance to have a public or closed-door hearing, and have asked to have investigators interview her — including in California, if that’s her wish.

They also canceled a committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, which had been scheduled for Thursday, in order to give Ms. Blasey Ford an opportunity to be heard.

After asking for a hearing, Ms. Blasey Ford, through her lawyers, announced a number of preconditions, including demanding multiple witnesses and insisting the FBI investigate her claims before she would agree to testify.

Republicans rejected those and said they were sticking with their plans for Monday.

Ms. Blasey Ford’s lawyers then changed tactics Thursday, sending the letter to the committee saying she is not averse to testifying next week, but must have her safety and the fairness of the proceedings assured. The letter was first reported by The New York Times.

Ms. Blasey Ford’s attorneys said she has faced threats and has had to hire security and leave her home.

Key Senate Democrats sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday asking them to investigate those threats as acts of intimidation of a key witness. They also said that could give the FBI a backdoor opportunity to investigate Ms. Blasey Ford’s original assault allegation.

“The bureau should promptly investigate these potential crimes against Dr. Blasey Ford and provide updates to Congress as appropriate,” the Democrats said.

Ms. Blasey Ford has declined so far to talk to committee investigators about her account, but staffers have spoken to Judge Kavanaugh and several other people Ms. Blasey Ford has suggested were witnesses.

Two of those individuals have given statements to the committee denying having been witnesses to the behavior Ms. Blasey Ford alleged.

Judge Kavanaugh has also vehemently denied the accusation, and so far no corroborating witness has publicly come forward to back up Ms. Blasey Ford’s account.

In a letter Thursday to Mr. Grassley, Judge Kavanaugh said he will be at Monday’s hearing and is eager to defend his integrity.

“I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name,” the nominee said.

Ms. Blasey Ford first made her allegations in communications to Democrats on Capitol Hill in July, but the information was not used until just before the first scheduled vote on Judge Kavanaugh — and well after he sat for a week of hearings.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who was one of those who got the information in July, said Thursday she promised to keep the woman’s identity private.

Ms. Eshoo said she thinks Ms. Blasey Ford’s testimony should take place in public for the American people to view.

“I believe that my constituent Dr. Ford will testify. I don’t think any senator wants to bear the burden of being accused of not being fair,” Ms. Eshoo told KCBS radio Thursday.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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