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's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment Are Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? 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 GrassleyState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate 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 holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom 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 SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback 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 KaineLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate 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 CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes 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.