Christine Blasey Ford says Brett Kavanaugh attacked her when he was a teenager
The lawyer for a woman who accuses US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has said the Senate’s “rush” to a hearing is “unnecessary”.
Lisa Banks says her client, Christine Blasey Ford, is willing to co-operate but wants a “full non-partisan investigation” ahead of her testimony.
Prof Ford has been given until Friday to decide if she will testify.
Judge Kavanaugh, 53, says the assault allegation, which dates back to his teenage years, is “completely false”.
President Donald Trump has again defended his nominee, saying it is very hard for him to imagine anything happened.
Prof Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee are engaged in a stand-off, and time is running out, the BBC’s Gary O’Donoghue reports from Washington.
The Republicans on the committee know they have to give her every opportunity to tell her story but they are adamant that this is not a matter for the FBI and that Democrats are using the case to simply stall the nomination process, our correspondent says.
What are Ford’s lawyers saying?
“Dr Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago,” Ms Banks said in a statement. “Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this.”
The lawyer’s statement repeats earlier reports of threats to Prof Ford and her family’s safety, adding that she is “currently unable to go home”.
Ms Banks then suggests that the plan by the Senate Judiciary Committee to go ahead with a hearing next Monday involving both Judge Kavanaugh and Prof Ford – either publicly or in a closed-door session – “is not a fair or good faith investigation”.
“There are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding.
“The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth,” she adds.
Prof Ford earlier declined the Senate’s offer to testify unless the FBI began investigating the judge.
Why did the Senate set a deadline?
In a letter to Prof Ford’s legal team, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said “it is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this”.
“I have reopened the hearing because I believe that anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault has a right to be heard, and because it is the Committee’s responsibility to fully evaluate the fitness of a nominee to the Supreme Court,” the Iowa Republican wrote.
The Senate, the committee chairman notes, “and only the Senate”, is tasked with vetting a president’s Supreme Court nominee.
“The FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee.
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Media captionSenator Mazie Hirono urged “the men in this country” to “do the right thing for a change”Mr Grassley’s letter states that Prof Ford has until Friday morning to provide the committee with her prepared testimony and biography if she plans to testify next Monday.
He said he was “disturbed” to hear that she had been facing threats and harassment but urged her to speak before the committee.
“You have stated repeatedly that Dr Ford wants to tell her story. I sincerely hope that Dr Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday.”
What is the allegation against the judge?
Prof Ford, a psychology lecturer in California, has accused Mr Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh of drunkenly trying to remove her clothing in 1982 when they were both teenagers in a Washington DC suburb.
She says he pinned her to a bed and clamped his hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream.
The incident allegedly happened at a gathering of teenagers at a house, when Mr Kavanaugh and a friend allegedly “corralled” her into a bedroom.
Judge Kavanaugh continues to deny the claim and has this week been meeting White House officials.
What are Trump and other Republicans saying?
On Wednesday, Mr Trump continued to support his nominee, telling reporters outside the White House: “He is such an outstanding man, [it is] very hard for me to imagine anything happened.”
“I want to see what she [Prof Ford] has to say but I want to give it all the time they need,” the Republican president said. “If she shows up that would be wonderful.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that it was “imperative” to move forward on the Kavanaugh vote.
Skip Twitter post by @LindseyGrahamSC
Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36 year old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 19, 2018
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He called the allegation against Judge Kavanaugh “a drive-by shooting”.
Fellow Republican Susan Collins of Maine said she hoped Prof Ford would “reconsider and testify” on Monday.
Skip Twitter post by @SenatorCollins
I hope that Dr. Ford will reconsider and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. It is my understanding that the Committee has offered to hold either a public or a private session, whichever would make her more comfortable.— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 19, 2018
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Ms Collins and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski are moderate Republicans who have voted with Democrats in the past, making them possible swing votes when it comes to Judge Kavanaugh.
Both have called on Judge Kavanaugh and Prof Ford to testify under oath.
On Wednesday, Senator Jeff Flake – who had previously said he would not decide his vote until hearing both testimonies – also called on Prof Ford to accept the Senate’s invitation.
Skip Twitter post by @JeffFlake
When Dr. Ford came forward, I said that her voice should be heard and asked the Judiciary Committee to delay its vote on Judge Kavanaugh. It did so. I now implore Dr. Ford to accept the invitation for Monday, in a public or private setting. The committee should hear her voice.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 19, 2018
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