Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of a decades-old sexual assault both indicated Monday they would be willing to testify to a Senate panel as the confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee shifted from seemingly painless to problematic.
But Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said Kavanaugh's nomination process should be put on hold until the FBI completes its investigation of the allegation.
On Wednesday, he doubled down on that defense, saying it would be "very hard" to imagine anything happened between Kavanaugh and Ford. The allegations, which Kavanaugh vehemently denies, refer to when he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, in the 1980s.
"Her recollection of these events is crystal clear", Ford's attorney, Lisa Banks, told Morning Edition.
We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security.
But the pivotal importance of the open Supreme Court seat means the controversy is only going to escalate ahead of an expected Judiciary Committee vote on the Kavanagh nomination next week.
Feinstein issued a statement on Sunday afternoon in support of Ford and calling for the FBI to investigate the matter before the Senate advances Kavanaugh's nomination.
In a round of television interviews early on Monday, Ford's Washington-based lawyer, Debra Katz, said her client would be willing to speak out publicly.
Katz said Ford believes "she would have been raped" by Kavanaugh had he not been drunk.
Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed while his friend watched, she said, then groped her while attempting to remove her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing on top of it.
Mr Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegations, a statement the White House repeated on Monday. "This is not a man who deserves this", he said at a news conference at the White House. "I hope she does".
Kavanaugh is not mentioned in the book, but a passage about partying at the beach makes glancing reference to a "Bart O'Kavanaugh, " who "puked in someone's auto the other night" and "passed out on his way back from a party". I think she knew it wasn't a strong enough allegation.
Republicans control the Senate by only a narrow margin, meaning any defections could sink the nomination and deal a major setback to Trump, who has been engaged in a so-far successful effort since becoming president a year ago to move the Supreme Court and broader federal judiciary to the right. "Never had even a little blemish on his record".
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"If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay".
From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from "go for it" to "stop". "Most importantly I want the American people to be happy, because they're getting somebody that is great". Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked Kavanaugh if he had ever made unwanted sexual advances, or been verbally or physically since becoming a legal adult.
"This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored", Conway said in an interview with Fox News. "This woman will be heard". Key will be the views of Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two moderates who have yet to announce their positions on Kavanaugh and aren't on the Judiciary Committee.
The Justice Department said in a statement late Monday that the accusation against Kavanaugh "does not involve any potential federal crime".
Such is the new atmosphere that confronts current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he faces accusations that echo eerily of the 1991 Anita Hill episode.
"I support Mrs. Ford's decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation", Feinstein said.
Feinstein was left facing an unwelcome new assault from her progressive challenger in California's jungle primary system, state Sen.
"I agree with Sen".
Feinstein said a call by committee staff would be unacceptable. There's a lot of information we don't know and the Federal Bureau of Investigation should have the time it needs to investigate this new material.
When asked about delaying the vote, Murkowski told CNN the committee should consider doing so. The hearings are now over, and if there is real substance to this, it demands a response. There is a way back to the better times of which Ginsburg spoke, though it will require great courage and character - to confirm the highly qualified Kavanaugh with a bipartisan vote. But faced with a growing #MeToo movement, they are also sensitive about appearances.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP leaders complained that the allegation was made public just days before the committee was set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Graham says he would "gladly listen to what she has to say" and compare it "against all the other information" the committee has considered about Kavanaugh. She said Sen. Lindsey Graham had told her it could happen as soon as Tuesday and the White House will "respect the process".
She said she was finally able to escape when another of Kavanaugh's classmates at his prestigious private school, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, whereupon all three were sent tumbling and she was able to escape the room, first locking herself in a bathroom briefly before fleeing the house.
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