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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“She has the option of a closed session, with cameras or without. We want her to appear,” said Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget 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 GrassleyTrump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Bipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package 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 HatchTrump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify 'Congress' worst tax idea ever'? Hardly. 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 SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' 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 KaineOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights 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.