President Donald Trump continues to support Brett Kavanaugh, his nominee for the Supreme Court, describing him at a rally in Las Vegas Thursday as “a great gentleman with an impeccable reputation.”
“He is a fine, fine person,” Trump said of Kavanaugh, who is facing allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman 36 years ago.
Lawyers for the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her say she wants to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety is ensured.
Attorney Debra Katz said her client, Christine Blasey Ford, has gotten death threats and she and her family have been forced out of their California home.
But according to U.S. media reports, Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford still wishes to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, has scheduled a hearing for next Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear in public to tell their stories.
But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”
Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” is that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to probe the charges against Kavanaugh.
Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wants to tell his side in a Monday hearing.
“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.
Media reports say Kavanaugh has also received what law enforcement officials say are credible death threats.
Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senateappeared to be an almost certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor.
She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school.
She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to escape.
Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman.
A number of women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them.
Trump expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford. But he said he wants her to testify, saying, “I really want to see her, to see what she has to say” and that if it takes the Senate a little longer to confirm Kavanaugh, so be it.
Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on Oct. 1, or if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.