Minutes before a 2:30 p.m. deadline on Saturday, Christine Blasey Ford agreed that she would testify before Congress next week about her claims that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two of them were in high school. Lawyers representing Ford wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that their client “accepts” the request to testify but expressed optimism they would be able to negotiate conditions at the hearing.
A few hours later, the Senate Judiciary Committee and Ford’s lawyers reportedly reached a tentative agreement for her to publicly testify on Thursday in what the New York Times characterized as “an apparent breakthrough in halting negotiations.” Although there were still lots of details to work out, the concession by Republicans to allow Ford to testify Thursday seemed to be a confirmation that they want the public session to take place. Negotiations between the committee and Ford’s lawyers are set to continue Sunday.
“Dr. Ford accepts the Committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, wrote in the afternoon message to the committee. “We are hopeful that we can reach agreement on details,” they added. “Can we set up a time for later this afternoon to continue our negotiations?” The lawyers also said they were “disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process.” Blasey’s attorneys say she wanted to appear before the committee on Thursday, according to the New York Times, but that is one of many details that still have to be decided.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had given Ford a deadline of 10 p.m. on Friday to decide whether she would testify. Ford’s attorney Katz responded with a strongly worded letter criticizing the “aggressive and artificial deadlines” as an attempt “to bully Dr. Ford.” Grassley agreed to an extension and proceeded to write a tweet that looked like an apology to Kavanaugh. “Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate,” he wrote.
“She shld decide so we can move on I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive.” Grassley also complained that he felt like he was “playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor.”
Republicans were immediately skeptical about Ford’s agreement to testify, with some questioning whether the letter amounted to a stalling tactic. “Our view of this latest response from Ford through her attorney is still ambiguous. She says she’s willing to testify but she says she still wants negotiations,” a senior White House official told Politico. “Until there’s actually an agreement, there isn’t. It could be a another delay tactic.” Vice President Mike Pence expressed support for Kavanaugh on Saturday, telling a crowd at the Values Voters Summit that Kavanaugh “is a man of integrity, with impeccable credentials and a proven judicial philosophy.”
This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.