GOP Extends Christine Blasey Ford's Deadline To Decide On Senate Hearing Request

Republicans granted the extension after lawyers for Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser claimed they were bullying her with the tight deadline.

The legal team for Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her when they were teens, rejected a last-minute Friday deadline Republicans gave them to respond to a request for Blasey to testify next week. But about an hour later, Republicans extended the deadline a day.

In an email sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s staff near the time of the deadline, attorney Debra Katz criticized the panel’s Republicans for giving Blasey only until 10 p.m. EDT Friday to decide whether she would testify on Wednesday and without many of the conditions she had requested for the hearing.

Katz urged the committee to extend the response deadline by a day and criticized Republicans for rejecting several of the conditions Blasey had requested for the format of the hearing.

Responding to Katz’s email after the deadline Friday night, committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted that he did grant an extension to Blasey’s team.

Grassley complained that he had already granted extensions “five times” since Blasey publicly identified herself Sunday as Kavanaugh’s accuser.”

Several minutes later, though, he added: “With all the extensions we give Dr Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate I feel like I’m playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor.” 

On Friday afternoon, Republicans on the committee had proposed that the hearing be held Wednesday and set the 10 p.m. deadline for Blasey to respond, giving her less than a day to decide.

Katz called the 10 p.m. deadline “arbitrary” and “aggressive” and accused the Republicans of bullying Blasey while she receives death threats.

The deadline’s “sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family,” Katz wrote.

Grassley had threatened Blasey’s lawyers to hold the vote for Kavanaugh’s nomination on Monday if she did not respond by the deadline, according to The Associated Press.

Katz’s email was obtained by reporters from The Washington PostPolitico and journalist Yashar Ali.

Blasey’s attorneys, on a conference call with committee staff members Thursday night, had laid out conditions under which the professor, who goes by Christine Blasey professionally, would be willing to testify.

They asked that Kavanaugh testify first and that senators preside over questioning instead of bringing in outside counsel. They also requested that the hearing take place next Thursday instead of Monday, which Grassley had suggested earlier in the week.

Blasey’s attorneys also asked if the committee could subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend who Blasey said was in the room during the alleged assault. Judge has denied witnessing the alleged assault and refused to testify before the committee.

The GOP counter-offer largely ignored these requests, instead proposing a Wednesday hearing in which Blasey would testify first. It also specified that lawyers for the committee ― rather than the senators themselves ― would oversee questioning and that no outside witnesses would be called.

“We want to hear Dr. Ford’s testimony and are prepared to accommodate many of your demands, including further delaying a hearing that is currently scheduled for Monday,” Grassley said in a statement. “We are unwilling to accommodate your unreasonable demands. Outside counsel may not dictate the terms under which committee business will be conducted.”

The negotiations came after Republicans on the committee rejected Blasey’s calls for an FBI investigation into her allegations before she would be called to testify.

Katz, in her response late Friday, harshly criticized the way the Republican committee members were treating Blasey.

The deadline and hearing negotiations had “created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and stress on Dr. Ford,” Katz wrote. “Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate.”