Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) set what he says is the final deadline Friday for Judge Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers to agree to have her testify at a hearing next week.
If Ford’s attorneys do not reach an agreement to one of the several options they have been offered for their client to tell her side of the story, Grassley will schedule a committee vote on Kavanaugh for Monday.
“Despite the fact that the July 30th letter remains hidden, my committee has been investigating the allegations and has heard from multiple witnesses since Sunday,” Grassley said in a statement to reporters after Ford’s attorneys, led by Democratic activist Deborah Katz, failed to respond first to a 10:00 a.m. deadline to agree to testify Monday and then a concession offer of 5:00 p.m. to testify Wednesday.
The statement continues:
Ms. Katz has discussed Dr. Ford’s allegations in numerous media interviews and said on TV Monday morning that Dr. Ford wants to share her account with the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible. I’m extending the deadline for response yet again to 10 o’clock this evening. I’m providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr. Ford’s attorneys don’t respond or Dr. Ford decides not to testify. In the event that we can come to a reasonable resolution as I’ve been seeking all week, then I will postpone the committee vote to accommodate her testimony. We cannot continue to delay.
Grassley’s move represents the firmest language yet that Senate Republicans have reached the end of their patience since Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh had groped her at a high school party more than 35 years ago threw the confirmation process into disarray last weekend. Grassley set a full public hearing under oath, only for Ford’s lawyers to repeatedly not agree to have their client testify.
In the intervening time, those lawyers have reportedly issued a fluid set of demands including excluding outside counsel from asking any questions at the hearing, having Ford not be required to appear in the same room as Kavanaugh, testifying in the opposite order of an actual trial with the accuser having the last word and the accused, Kavanaugh, having no opportunity to reply, and finally, Friday, claiming a further delay was needed because Ford was unwilling to board a plane for fear of confined spaces.
The Judiciary Committee also released the text of the previous offer, originally made with 5 p.m. deadline, that was put to Ford’s lawyers after they failed to meet the 10 a.m. deadline for the Monday hearing. “The Chairman has offered the ability for Dr. Ford to testify in an open session, a closed session, a public staff interview, and a private staff interview,” the offer letter explains. “The Chairman is even willing to fly female staff investigators to meet Dr. Ford and you in California, or anywhere else, to obtain Dr. Ford’s testimony.”
The letter goes on to refuse some of Ford’s lawyers’ most controversial demands:
Some of your other demands, however, are unreasonable and we are unable to accommodate them. You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh be the first person to testify. Accommodating this demand would be an affront to fundamental notions of due process.
You also demanded that only senators be permitted to ask questions of the witnesses. We are also unable to accommodate this demand. There is no rule of the Senate or the Committee that precludes staff attorneys from asking witnesses questions. We reserve the option to have female staff attorneys, who are sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Ford’s allegations and are experienced investigators, question both witnesses.
You demanded that the Committee issue subpoenas for the testimony of Mark Judge and other unidentified witnesses. The Committee is unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take subpoena requests from witnesses as a condition of their testimony.
You demanded that the Committee call additional witnesses that Dr. Ford requests. We are unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take witness requests from other witnesses.
The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who withheld a letter detailing Ford’s account of her alleged sexual assault for more than six weeks, meanwhile issued a response admonishing Republicans for their handling of the situation. “[W]e are disheartened to see many of our colleagues in the majority have already made up their minds and begun to dismiss and diminish Dr. Ford’s experience,” the Democrats letter reads. “Up to this point, the Committee majority’s treatment of Dr. Ford has unquestionably been worse than the disgraceful treatment that Anita Hill received 27 years ago. We are better than this.”