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Senate panel reaches tentative deal for Kavanaugh accuser to testify Thursday

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reached a tentative agreement for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, to testify next week.

The tentative deal struck during a call between Judiciary Committee staff and Ford's lawyers would have her testify on Thursday, a person briefed on the conversation told The Hill. 

The source added that the call was "productive," lasting 15 to 20 minutes and that all parties on the call, which included staff from both parties, tentatively agreed on the date. Negotiations on a hearing are expected to continue into Sunday.

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If lawyers for Ford and Judiciary Committee staffers can finalize the deal Sunday, it would be a shift for Republicans, who wanted the 51-year-old professor to testify initially on Monday and then, as a counteroffer, on Wednesday. 

Spokesmen for Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyClinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the tentative agreement. 

The day of the hearing was one of several remaining sticking points in the negotiations. Though Ford announced earlier Saturday she was willing to testify next week, they had not yet agreed to a date. 

"Many aspects of the proposal you provided via email ... are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process, we are hopeful that we can reach agreement on detail," attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks wrote in the email sent on Saturday afternoon. 

The two sides have been locked in days of negotiations after Ford opened the door to testifying. 

Grassley's staff have agreed to her requests on limiting camera access, giving timely breaks, giving her Capitol Police protection and keeping her and Kavanaugh in separate rooms. 

But they remain divided on the order of a possible hearing— Ford's lawyers want Kavanaugh to go first but Republicans insist he go second. Ford's lawyers want to call additional witnesses, including subpoenaing Mark Judge, a classmate of Kavanaugh's and potential witness. 

And Republicans are considering using a counsel, potentially a woman, to ask questions and avoid the optics of 11 male Republican senators questioning Ford. But Ford's lawyers have raised concerns that it would make a hearing too much like a trial. 

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a high school party in the early 1980s. Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to remove her clothes and covered her mouth when she protested. 

Kavanaugh has denied wrongdoing. White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement on Saturday night that Kavanaugh "categorically and unequivocally" denies the allegation. 

"We have heard about different dates, conditions, and ever changing schedules, but today we appear no closer to a fair hearing. But one thing has remained consistent: Brett Kavanaugh remains ready, willing and eager to testify as soon as possible," she added.