Time running out for Kavanaugh accuser to talk, say Republicans

Republicans are warning that time is running out for US Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser to tell Congress about her claim he sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers.

With Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination dangling in the balance, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said his panel still planned a Monday morning hearing that Mr Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford were invited to attend.

Senator Chuck Grassley wrote to Ms Ford’s lawyers on Wednesday saying that the panel was giving the California psychology professor until 10am on Friday to submit a biography and prepared statement “if she intends to testify” on Monday.

It remained unclear, though, whether Ms Ford would attend or if the hearing would occur without her.

After initially saying through a lawyer on Monday that she was willing to appear, Ms Ford has since said she first wants a full FBI investigation of her accusation.

Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have been emphatic that an FBI renewal of its background checks on Mr Kavanaugh will not happen, saying an investigation by committee staff — which Democrats are boycotting — is sufficient.

Ms Ford’s demand has been fully backed by Democrats.

Lisa Banks, a Ford lawyer, wrote that Mr Grassley’s plan to call just two witnesses, Mr Kavanaugh and Ms Ford, “is not a fair or good faith investigation” and said “multiple witnesses” she did not name should be included.

“The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth,” Ms Banks wrote.

Republican leaders are offering Ms Ford a chance to describe her allegation, either in a hearing room before television cameras or in private.

Republicans have largely stood by Mr Kavanaugh’s denials.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Mr Trump told reporters, “I can only say this: He is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.”

Ms Ford has contended that at a house party in the 1980s, a drunken Mr Kavanaugh tried undressing her and stifling her cries on a bed before she fled.

Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has had her share of clashes with Mr Trump, said she hoped Ms Ford would reconsider a decision not to testify and “it’s not fair to Judge Kavanaugh” if she refuses.

“Otherwise, there are these very serious allegations hanging over the head of a nominee who has emphatically denied them,” she said on radio WVOM in Bangor.

Senator Lindsey Graham said “it is imperative the Judiciary Committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken as soon as possible”.

As for a possible FBI intervention, Mr Grassley said in his letter to Ford’s lawyers, “We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence.”

In a separate letter to Democrats, Mr Grassley wrote that committee aides were “even willing to fly to California, or anywhere else, to meet her”.

He also wrote that Republican aides tried to arrange interviews with two other “alleged witnesses”. The letter mentioned no names and committee staff declined to identify them.

- Press Association

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