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 suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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 GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general 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 HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown 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 SchumerBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency Christie: Trump doesn’t give nicknames to people he respects 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 KaineClinton on GOP promoting Trump 'stronger together' quote: Now copy my policies too GOP promotes Trump line mirroring Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign slogan Pompeo: US will continue investigating Khashoggi murder 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 CollinsGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration DOJ warns White House that national emergency will likely be blocked: report On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration 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.