Kavanaugh preps for Senate testimony on assault allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was back at the White House complex Thursday, amid a week of visits that have included preparation for the possibility of additional Senate testimony, according to a person involved in the confirmation process.

In a private session Tuesday, Kavanaugh was grilled by a small group of White House staff about his past, his dating life and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford's account of events from the early 1980s. Among the White House staffers participating were White House counsel Don McGahn, communications director Bill Shine, press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

The source said that Kavanaugh, who returned to the White House for a third consecutive day Thursday, is "determined and hopeful," and that it's up to him how he'd like to present himself on Monday if the Senate Judiciary Committee moves forward with its scheduled hearing.

"He has to make those decisions how he wants to tell his story," the source said. "It's really in the nominee's hands. It's his reputation and he knows all the facts."

Separately, a Republican senate aide who has been briefed on Kavanaugh's preparations said the "moots have been going well," adding that he's been spending his days as if a hearing will go forward on Monday.

As Kavanaugh prepares for Monday and Senate Republicans renew their push to move forward with the confirmation process, the judge's opponents looked to outside pressure Thursday to do what institutional tools have not.

Protesters descended on Capitol Hill Thursday morning even though most lawmakers were back in their districts for the rest of the week. Dozens arrived at Senate office buildings to protest Kavanaugh's nomination, including a group of women wearing pins reading "I believe Christine Blasey Ford" who recounted their own experiences involving sexual harassment and assault.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school in Maryland during the early 1980s and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have set a deadline of Friday morning for her to decide whether she intends to testify about the experience at a public hearing on Monday.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 alumnae who graduated between the 1940s and the present day from Ford's high school, Holton-Arms School, have signed a short letter in support of her.

"We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story. It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court," they write.

"Dr. Blasey Ford's experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves."

The protests come as Republicans press forward with the process to confirm Kavanaugh. Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations on the Senate Judiciary Committee, drew scrutiny Wednesday for posting and then deleting tweets saying he had personally questioned Kavanaugh and referring derisively to Ford's legal team — and indicating that, despite his current role in the investigation, he backed the nominee's confirmation.

"I'm still waiting to hear back from the accuser's attorneys, who can't find time between TV appearances to get back to me," he said. "...Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh. #ConfirmKavanaugh #SCOTUS".

Davis tweeted Thursday that he had deleted the comments.

Democrats and Ford are pushing for the FBI to first investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh while Republicans are arguing that such a probe isn't necessary and President Trump, who would have to direct the FBI to conduct such an investigation, has said he has no plans to do so.