Update, 12:30 a.m., Sept. 22: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a series of late night tweets extending the negotiations for Christine Blasey Ford’s potential testimony, ending on a familiarly rueful-sounding note:
Original Post: The Senate Judiciary Committee tried to initiate a Friday night game of chicken with attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The committee had issued a 10 p.m. ultimatum for Ford to agree to testify by Wednesday, stating that the vote to confirm Kavanaugh would proceed on Monday without her agreement. Ford’s lawyers did not bite.
Ford’s attorney Debra S. Katz responded to the ultimatum with a strongly-worded letter decrying the “aggressive and artificial deadlines” as an attempt “to bully Dr. Ford.” Katz explains that Ford had “traveled to meet with the FBI for several hours about the death threats she had been receiving,” and that her legal team requested time “to be able to provide you with a well-considered response.”
“Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor,” Katz writes, “is completely inappropriate.”
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s office had sent a letter to Ford’s lawyers earlier on Friday “providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr. Ford’s attorneys don’t respond (by 10 p.m. tonight) or Dr. Ford decides not to testify.” That deadline was not the first of the day set by the committee; earlier Friday afternoon it had demanded a response from Ford by the more business-friendly 5 p.m.
Ford’s attorneys have been negotiating with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee over the past week regarding the conditions under which Ford would testify. Yesterday, Ford agreed to testify no earlier than next Thursday if the conditions were safe and fair. Members of the Republican-led committee and their staffers have been explicit in their desire to expedite Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, and earlier this week the committee had rejected Ford’s requests for an FBI investigation into the alleged assault.
According to the Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim, the Friday letter from Grassley’s office also elaborated on specific requests from Ford’s lawyers and whether or not the Senate Judiciary Committee would honor them.
As of 11 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee had not issued a statement regarding its 10 p.m. deadline.