The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her three decades ago when they were in high school wants to testify next week before a Senate panel, her lawyers told committee aides Thursday.
The lawyers said that California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford "would be prepared to testify next week," as long as the lawmakers offered "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety," news outlets reported.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a Monday hearing and invited Ford to testify then about what she has alleged happened in 1982 at a house party in suburban Washington. She contends Kavanaugh, then 17 and "stumbling drunk," pinned her to a bed and groped her, leaving her fearful for her life before she escaped.
'Strong preference' for full probe
Ford's lawyers said her testimony Monday "is not possible and the committee's insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event." They said Ford's "strong preference" is that "a full investigation" be completed before her testimony, but stopped short of demanding an FBI probe and seemed to suggest that she would testify without one.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, had given Ford, who was 15 at the time of the alleged attack and now is 51, until Friday morning to decide whether to testify. But her lawyers' email appeared to open a path to negotiations over her appearance before the 21-member panel, which consists of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
Until her lawyers sent the email, it was an unresolved question whether Ford would appear after first demanding the investigation in advance of her testimony.
Kavanaugh has adamantly denied that he attacked Ford or any other woman, including over his long career in Washington as a White House aide and for the last 12 years as an appellate court judge, one level below the Supreme Court. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, for a lifetime appointment to fill a vacancy on the country's highest court, with independent court analysts saying they believe Kavanaugh would shift the court's ideological balance toward conservative rulings for years to come.
Kavanaugh appeared headed toward eventual confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate, but after Ford made the public accusations against Kavanaugh in a Washington Post interview last weekend, Democrats opposed to Kavanaugh and some Republicans called for a new hearing to allow Ford to testify and Kavanaugh to respond.
Lisa Banks, one of Ford's lawyers, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday that Ford and her family had received threats, which forced them to leave their home. Some critics have posted allegations against Ford on the internet that have been debunked.
Numerous Republicans had called for the confirmation process to move forward if Ford would not agree to testify, and they accused Democrats of trying to stall the confirmation process. Democrats have said there is no need to rush and that the allegations should be fully considered.
Trump has often expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying Wednesday that "it's very hard for me to imagine" that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford.
The president has indicated he wants Ford to testify, saying, "I really want to see her, to see what she has to say."
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.