Accuser of Trump's high court nominee willing to testify - reports

WASHINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - A lawyer for the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault told a Senate panel the professor would be willing to testify next week if it provides "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety," an email obtained by U.S. media on Thursday showed.

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, has been given a Friday deadline to decide whether to testify before the Judiciary Committee, but Republican lawmakers and the accuser remained locked in a high-stakes standoff over whether she will appear.

The email from Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, was reported on by the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.

"As you aware, she's been receiving death threats which have been reported to the FBI and she and her family have been forced out of their home," Katz wrote to the committee staff, according to the Washington Post. "She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety."

"A hearing on Monday is not possible and the committee's insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event," according to the email.

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Brett Kavanaugh through the years
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 13: Brett Kavanaugh, aide to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, during a meeting in the Office of the Solicitor General on November 13, 1996 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
US Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks on as the US President announces him as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Judge Brett Kavanaugh (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after being nominated to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President George W. Bush (R) listens to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge Brett Kavanaugh speak, [moments after being sworn-in at a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House], in Washington June 1, 2006.
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces his Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
UNITED STATES - JUNE 01: Brett Kavanaugh speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 1, 2006 in Washington, D.C., after being sworn in to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. (Photo by Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) announces US Judge Brett Kavanaugh (C) as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President George W. Bush (L) watches as Brett Kavanaugh (2nd L) is sworn in as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy (R) in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House in Washington June 1, 2006. Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, holds the bible. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh attends a news conference with Senate GOP leadership in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh smiles next to U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh (L) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh smiles next to U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: (L-R) U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: (L-R) U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 09: Brett Kavanaugh testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be U. S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 09: Brett M. Kavanaugh, who last appeared before the committee in late April 2004, is sworn in to testify during a second Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing. At right are former bosses Judge Walter K. Stapleton, of the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Wilmington, Del., and Judge Alex Kozinski, of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Pasadena, Calif., who introduced Kavanaugh to the committee. Kavanaugh, President Bush's staff secretary, is the president's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., held the second hearing because Committee Democrats wanted to ask Kavanaugh, formerly an associate White House counsel, more questions about his involvement in the administration's legal policies, particularly on the National Security Agency terrorist surveillance program and the treatment of detainees held by the U.S. military. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 19: Brett Kavanaugh, associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, sits behind Starr during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton on November 19, 1998 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 13: Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, center, talks with Deputy Independent Counsel John Bates, left, and aide Brett Kavanaugh, right, and another colleague in the Office of the Solicitor General during the Whitewater Investigation on November 13, 1996 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh (off frame) and their two daughters stand by US President Donald Trump after he announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (R) speaks after US President Donald Trump announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh and their two daughters stand by US President Donald Trump after he announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Kavanaugh, the conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Trump in July for the lifetime job as a Supreme Court justice, also has been invited to testify on Monday.

Chuck Grassley, the committee's Republican chairman, on Wednesday sent a letter to Ford's lawyers giving her until 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday to submit prepared testimony if she intended to show up on Monday.

A group of about 40 protesters, most of them women, clogged the lobby of Grassley's Senate office on Thursday. Many wore buttons with the words "I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford."

They asked to speak to Grassley and were told the senator is in Iowa, according to Marcie Wells of Las Vegas, a member of the Women's March organization that has been outspoken in opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination.

Ford has said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland, an allegation Kavanaugh has called "completely false."

Her lawyers said on Tuesday she would testify before the committee only if the FBI first investigated her allegation. The FBI has said it is not investigating, a decision backed by Republicans.

The confirmation fight has unfolded just weeks before Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress from the Republicans. Kavanaugh's confirmation would solidify conservative control of the Supreme Court and further Trump's goal of moving the high court and the broader federal judiciary to the right.

Trump's fellow Republicans appear to be counting on her failure to quickly agree to testify on Monday as a boost for Kavanaugh's confirmation chances. The Senate is narrowly controlled by Republicans, who have embraced the idea of a quick vote on Kavanaugh's nomination if Ford does not to testify.

Ford came forward with the allegation in an interview published in the Washington Post last Sunday. She accused Kavanaugh of attacking her and trying to remove her clothing while he was drunk at a party when he was 17 years old and she was 15.

Democrats, who opposed Kavanaugh's confirmation even before Ford's allegation surfaced, pressed ahead with demands for an FBI investigation.

"For this to be a fair, deliberate and open process, we need to let the FBI do its job and allow agents to conduct a full investigation of the allegations bravely brought forward by Dr. Ford," Democratic Senator Chris Coons wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Richard Cowan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham)

 

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