Senators wait to see if Kavanaugh accuser will testify

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As President Donald Trump again defended his Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, Senators in both parties waited Tuesday to see if Kavanaugh’s accuser would agree to testify at a hearing set for next week, after accusing him of sexual misconduct back when the two were teenagers in the 1980’s.

“Dr. Ford’s lawyers refuse to respond to our invitations to participate,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as questions seemed to be raised about whether a politically explosive hearing would take place next Monday as scheduled.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said staffers had spoken with Judge Kavanaugh on Monday about the charge that he tried to sexually assault Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party.

“We’ve also called and emailed Dr. Ford’s lawyer to arrange a similar interview, but we haven’t received a response,” the committee reported, as Senators didn’t seem to know whether Ford would testify.

If Ford decides to appear on Capitol Hill next week, Republicans said they were ready to go forward.

“She’s going to have an opportunity to be heard,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

At the White House, President Trump defended Kavanaugh several times, again chiding Democrats for bringing the allegations forward after hearings on Kavanaugh had ended, and just days before a scheduled vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this, to be honest with you,” the President said at a joint news conference with the President of Poland.

“It should have been brought up long ago,” Mr. Trump said of Ford’s charge from 36 years ago. “And that’s what you have hearings for. You don’t wait until the hearing is over and then, all of a sudden, bring it up.”

As for Democrats, they stood by Ford and her explosive allegation.

“In my view, Professor Ford is telling the truth,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

“Senate Republicans are still not taking these allegations seriously,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who was first informed of the charge weeks ago, but held on to the information. “They’re rushing into a hearing that is completely unfair.”

“The FBI background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh should be reopened in light of the serious charges against him,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

But as Senators left town for the week, they headed home unsure as to whether Ford would be on Capitol Hill for testimony next Monday, as Ford’s lawyers echoed calls by Democrats for a full FBI review of her charge against Kavanaugh – before any hearing could take place..

With uncertainty about the hearing, there was some discussion among Republicans that if Ford refuses to testify in person on Monday – then the GOP might just move next week to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

“Hopefully, the woman will come forward, state her case,” the President said.