Published 7:28 PM EDT Sep 20, 2018
WASHINGTON – Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, reiterated Thursday that she would be willing to testify before senators about her allegations.
In an email sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by USA TODAY, Ford's lawyer says her client "would be prepared to testify next week," as long as conditions are determined that are "fair and which ensure her safety."
Ford's attorney asked for a phone call later Thursday to discuss the terms of her client's testimony but added Ford had a "strong preference" that "a full investigation" happen before testifying. Her attorney also said Ford's safety is a high priority and a hearing on Monday "is not possible," adding the committee's "insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event."
"As you are aware, she has been receiving death threats, which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and she and her family have been forced out of their home," the email states.
Kavanaugh also sent a memo to the committee Thursday accepting the invitation to appear before senators on Monday. He wrote in the letter that he wants to have the hearing as soon as possible so "that I can clear my name."
"Since the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it," Kavanaugh wrote. "I remain committed to defending my integrity."
Ford came forward publicly in The Washington Post on Sunday with an allegation that Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were both in high school. Her attorney, Debra Katz, said Ford believes it was an "attempted rape."
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
Since her name and the allegations were made public, both Ford and Kavanaugh have been the target of death threats. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee requested on Thursday that the FBI investigate the threats and the alleged hacking of her email, which are aimed to "intimidate" and "potentially prevent her from testifying about her credible allegations of sexual assault," a letter sent to the FBI reads.
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent Ford's attorneys a letter Wednesday advising that if Ford plans to discuss her allegations with lawmakers, she must give a copy of her prepared testimony and a biography to the committee by 10 a.m. EDT on Friday. He cited "committee rules" as the reason for the deadline.
"You have stated repeatedly that Dr. Ford wants to tell her story," Grassley said in the letter. "I sincerely hope that Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday."
The Iowa Republican said Ford's claim was added to the nominee's file and that "standard procedure for supplemented background investigations" was to interview the relevant parties by phone. But the senator said repeated attempts to contact Ford and her lawyers by phone and email had gone unanswered.
Although Ford's team has requested an FBI investigation as a "first step," Grassley said that was not the FBI's job and that the committee did not have the power to order the bureau to do anything.
"I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations," he wrote. "That is precisely what the Senate is doing. That is why our investigators have asked to speak with your client. That is why I have invited Dr. Ford to tell her story to the Senate and, if she so chooses, to the American people. It is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this."
In urging Ford to testify, Grassley said he "reopened the hearing because I believe that anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault has a right to be heard."
"By hearing out both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, the Committee will endeavor to discover the truth of the matter, and will be better able to make an informed judgment about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination," he wrote.
On Wednesday, Grassley said he didn't doubt that Ford "believes what she says."
"In fact, I have a responsibility to give deference to that, at least until I hear it, and to make a determination afterwards if it is possible to make a determination," Grassley told reporters in Iowa.
He said both Ford and Kavanaugh need to be heard.
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