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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 FlakeTim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller CNN to partner with The Des Moines Register on polling ahead of 2020 Iowa caucuses 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 GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform 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 HatchInternet gambling addiction is a looming crisis Trump runs into GOP opposition with NAFTA threat Hatch weighs in on reported push to ban phrases like 'bringing home the bacon' with video 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 SchumerPush to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives House approves two-week spending measure to avert shutdown Manchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives 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 KaineWhile G-20 Summit was promising for US- China trade relations, Congress must still push for an exclusion process Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission 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 CollinsSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Judd Gregg: The last woman standing 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.