UPDATE: 9 p.m. EDT ― Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys representing professor Christine Blasey Ford, held a call Thursday night with staff members from the offices of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, to discuss a potential hearing, Politico reported.
The lawyers requested that the hearing take place next Thursday and that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh deliver his testimony first, according to sources familiar with the discussions. They also said Blasey was opposed to being questioned by outside counsel and asked that there be only one camera allowed in the room.
Grassley’s office confirmed the call had taken place in a statement and said the senator would “consult with his colleagues on the committee.”
Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school, said she would be willing to negotiate the terms of testifying next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her lawyers said Thursday.
“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” Blasey’s attorney said in an email to the committee.
Blasey’s lawyer said a hearing on Monday, as initially planned, was “not possible” and that the insistence of some key Republicans on the committee that it move forward on that date was “arbitrary.”
The professor on Tuesday called for an FBI investigation into her allegations before she testified. But the Justice Department indicated it had no intention of reopening its background investigation of Kavanaugh, telling NPR in a statement that the FBI “does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation.”
“The purpose of a background investigation is to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States,” the agency said. “The allegation does not involve any potential federal crime. The FBI’s role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, also rejected calls that the FBI help investigate Blasey’s claims and earlier in the week appeared immovable on the Monday hearing date.
“We’ve offered Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story with the committee, as her attorney said yesterday she was willing to do,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday. “We offered her a public or a private hearing as well as staff-led interviews, whichever makes her most comfortable. The invitation for Monday still stands.”
Democrats, however, supported Blasey’s request and accused the GOP of rushing the process while attempting to put Blasey on the national stage before the allegations could be properly looked into.
“I support Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI background investigation before a hearing,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Tuesday on Twitter. “She should not be bullied into participating in a biased process and we should not rush forward before facts are gathered.”
Blasey has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both in high school in the 1980s. Since coming forward with her allegations, her attorney said in the email Thursday, “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 prospect of rehashing her alleged sexual assault on a public stage is also complicated by the fact that every Republican senator on the committee is male, and lawmakers are known to employ aggressive questioning during hearings. For that reason, HuffPost learned Tuesday that Republicans on the committee were considering having their female aides or lawyers question Blasey and Kavanaugh should she testify about her allegation.
Committee Republicans reportedly decided earlier on Thursday to hire an outside counsel to lead their questioning of Blasey during a hearing, The New York Times reported. They have yet to hire someone to fill the role, a Republican Senate official familiar with the decision told the Times.
This article has been updated with Thursday night talks over a hearing time.