Accuser of Trump's SC pick willing to talk to Congress

US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 4, 2018. Reuters

The woman accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her is willing to tell her story in public to a Senate panel considering his nomination to the Supreme Court, her lawyer said on Monday.

Kavanaugh had been on a smooth confirmation track, but the new allegations have roiled that process. Republican senators have expressed concern over a woman's private-turned-public allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.

Debra S Katz, the attorney for the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, said her client considered the incident to be an attempted rape.

"She believes that if were not for the severe intoxication of Brett Kavanaugh, she would have been raped," Katz told NBC's "Today." Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegations, a statement the White House repeated on Monday.

"This has not changed," said White House spokesman Kerri Kupec.

"Judge Kavanaugh and the White House both stand by that statement." In morning television interviews, Katz said her client was willing to tell her story in public to the Senate Judiciary Committee, although no lawmakers or their aides had yet contacted her. Katz also denied that Ford, a Democrat, is politically motivated.

"No one in their right mind regardless of their motives would want to inject themselves into this process and face the kind of violation that she will be subjected to by those who want this nominee to go though. ... She was quite reluctant to come forward." 

Initially, the sexual misconduct allegation was conveyed in a private letter, without revealing Ford's name. With a name and disturbing details, the accusation raised the prospect of congressional Republicans defending President Donald Trump's nominee ahead of midterm elections featuring an unprecedented number of female candidates and informed in part by the #MeToo movement.

The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee appeared nonetheless committed to a vote later this week despite Ford's account in The Washington Post.

Kavanaugh, she told the Post, pinned her to a bed at a Maryland party in the early 1980s, clumsily tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

Ford said Kavanaugh and a friend — both "stumbling drunk," she says — corralled her in a bedroom when she was around 15 and Kavanaugh was around 17.

She says Kavanaugh groped her over her clothes, grinded his body against hers and tried to take off her one-piece swimsuit and the outfit she wore over it. Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream, she says, and escaped when Judge jumped on them.

Kavanaugh attended a private school for boys in Maryland while Ford attended a nearby school.

Through the White House, Kavanaugh, 53, a federal appeals judge in Washington, said: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time." A split seemed to be emerging among the GOP.

As Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, called for a delay in the vote, two committee Republicans — all 11 on the GOP side are men — Sens Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they wanted to hear more from Ford. Flake went as far as to say he was "not comfortable" voting for Kavanaugh for the time being.

A potential "no" vote from Flake would complicate the judge's prospects. A Republican not on the committee, Sen Bob Corker of Tennessee, said the vote should be postponed until the committee heard from Ford. Contacted Sunday by CNN, Sen Susan Collins, R-Maine, wouldn't say if the vote should be postponed.

A committee spokesman said late Sunday that its chairman, Sen Chuck Grassley of Iowa, was trying to arrange separate, follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford, but just for aides to Grassley and Sen Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., before Thursday's scheduled vote. Critics have already accused the GOP of fast-tracking the process to get Kavanaugh on the court by October 1, the first day of the fall term.

The allegation against Kavanaugh first came to light late last week in the form of a letter that had been for some time in the possession of Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and one of its four female members. On Sunday, The Washington Post published an interview with Ford, who after months of soul-searching decided to go public.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, 51, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing." She told the Post that she was able to escape after a friend of Kavanaugh's who was in the room jumped on top of them and everyone tumbled.

In the interview, Ford says she never revealed what had happened to her until 2012, when she and her husband sought couples therapy. Ford's husband, Russell Ford, said he recalled his wife using Kavanaugh's last name and expressing concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might someday be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans, along with the White House, see no need to postpone voting over what they consider uncorroborated and unverifiable accusations, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorised to speak publicly. 

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Accuser of Trump's SC pick willing to talk to Congress

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