Lawyers for the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago say she wants to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety is ensured.
Attorney Debra Katz said her client, Christine Blasey Ford, has gotten death threats and she and her family have been forced out of their California home.
But according to U.S. media reports, Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford still wished to testify, “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has scheduled a hearing for Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear in public to tell their stories.
But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”
Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” is that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to probe the charges against Kavanaugh.
Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wanted to tell his side in a Monday hearing.
“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.
Media reports said Kavanaugh had also received what law enforcement officials said were credible death threats.
Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senate appeared to be an almost certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor.
She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school.
She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to escape.
Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he had never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman.
A number of women who said they knew and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career said he had been respectful and fair in dealing with them.
Trump expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford. But he said he wanted her to testify, saying, “I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” and that if it took the Senate a little longer to confirm Kavanaugh, so be it.
Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on Oct. 1 or, if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.