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GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser

GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans say they are willing to allow Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a decades-old sexual assault charge, to testify in a closed session without the presence of television cameras if that makes her more comfortable appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. 

Ford has yet to confirm her presence at a Monday hearing that could be pivotal to Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

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“She has the option of a closed session, with cameras or without. We want her to appear,” said Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (R-Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary panel. “We want her to appear and she has said before we made the decision that she wanted to appear.”

Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee say Ford has not responded to requests asking her to schedule her testimony next week. Kavanaugh will also testify under oath. 

Nevertheless, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October MORE (R-Iowa), leaving McConnell’s office, says he still hopes to hold a hearing. 

“I hope so,” Grassley said when asked if a hearing is going to take place.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (Utah), a senior Republican on the committee, said if Ford doesn’t come to testify before the committee, a hearing will still likely take place Monday. 

“I think so,” he said. 

Democrats want other witnesses who might have additional information to testify, and have accused Republicans of rushing the process as they seek to fill an opening on the Supreme Court with the conservative jurist.

Ford says that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a party both attended in the 1980s, when the two were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the charge.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (N.Y.) on Tuesday faulted Grassley for limiting the witness list to Kavanaugh and Ford. 

“That’s simply inadequate, unfair, wrong, and a desire not to get at the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Schumer said. “The minority has always been able to request a number of witnesses to provide context and exert opinion to the committee.”

Democrats want Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend who Ford said was present when Kavanaugh allegedly tried to assault her, to testify.

Judge in an interview with the Weekly Standard last week denied remembering the incident. 

“It's just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge told the conservative magazine. 

Democrats, however, say that Judge can testify to Kavanaugh’s drinking habits in high school. 

“His own record is one of the bits of sort of confirming evidence that raises the charge just from a stray allegation to ‘this could be serious,’” said Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineAmerica’s ball cap industry is in trouble Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (D-Va.) about the need for Judge to testify. 

Judge’s memoir about alcohol addiction, “Wasted,” makes a reference to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” which has been interpreted as an allusion to Kavanaugh.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality MORE (R-Maine), a key centrist swing vote, however, said that it is “too early” for her to decide whether Judge’s testimony is necessary.