Kavanaugh accuser will testify in open hearing on Thursday

9 months 4 weeks 28 minutes ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 6:31:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
By: By Eli Watkins, Gloria Borger and Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) -- Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford said in a statement on Sunday that she has committed to testifying in an open hearing on Thursday about her allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The statement from attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich came after a call Sunday with staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and said he wants to testify before the committee.

"Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her," the statement read.

Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, made the announcement official in a statement later Sunday, saying the panel would hear testimony from Ford followed by Kavanaugh on Thursday.

The statement from Ford's lawyers noted that she would still testify even though "important procedural and logistical issues remain unresolved" and expressed dissatisfaction that the committee does not plan to subpoena Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly groped her and tried to remove her clothes during a party in their high school years.

Judge has denied having any memory of such an incident and said he did not want to testify.

"They have also refused to invite other witnesses who are essential for a fair hearing that arrives at the truth about the sexual assault," the statement from Ford's attorneys said.

A source familiar with the conversation told CNN that Republicans on the committee were so far rejecting requests from Ford's team to subpoena Judge as well as the polygraph examiner who conducted Ford's test and two trauma experts.

Democrats and Ford's team plan to push for more outside witnesses before Thursday's hearing.

In addition to his statement on Sunday, Grassley released a note from his counsel that said the panel would not "hand over its constitutional duties to attorneys for outside witnesses."

"The Committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, in what order to call them, and who will question them," the note read. "These are non-negotiable."

Another statement from the committee on Sunday said it had reached out to four people, including Kavanaugh and Judge, who Ford has said were at the party.

One of the others, Patrick Smyth, told the committee that he had "no knowledge of the party in question" or the allegations against Kavanaugh, according to a statement he gave the committee through his lawyer.

The fourth person, Leland Ingham Keyser, told the committee that she did not recall the party Ford described. CNN reported on the outreach to Keyser and her lawyer's response on Saturday. Keyser told The Washington Post that although she did not recall the party, she believed Ford, whom she described as a friend. Ford told the Post that she did not expect Keyser to recall the party because, from her perspective, nothing remarkable had happened there.

The statement from Ford's attorneys said the other unresolved matters included whether the GOP senators on the committee would ask questions of Ford themselves.

Republicans have left open the option of using an outside counsel to do their questioning of Ford and Kavanaugh, two sources familiar with the subject told CNN. Ford's team has called just for senators to do the questioning. Democratic senators will ask their own questions.

Ford's team prefers Kavanaugh testify first, but will accept that he goes second, the source familiar with the conversation told CNN said.

The hearing will start at 10 a.m. and will be open to the public, the source said. There will be breaks at 45-minute intervals upon request, and Ford will have dedicated security as well as two lawyers at the table with her, the source said.

CNN previously reported that Ford's attorneys told the committee on a Saturday call that she had accepted a request to speak at the panel with further details to be ironed out in Sunday's call.

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