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Kavanaugh, accuser slated to testify; Dems say more witnesses needed

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Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Christy Bowe/Globe Photos/Zuma Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill plan to hear testimony Monday from Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, but will call no one else, drawing rebuke from Democrats who say more witnesses and experts are needed.

“Compare that to the 22 witnesses at the 1991 Anita Hill hearing, and it’s impossible to take this process seriously,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said.

Republicans and Democrats are bitterly debating the specifics of the high-stakes hearing planned for Monday into Ford’s allegations concerning a decades-old sexual assault by Kavanaugh.

Democrats argue that the GOP is trying to put Ford at a disadvantage by limiting who will testify and not consulting her before setting Monday’s date. Republicans counter that Democrats are just trying to stall the process and hint that if Ford does not appear — she has not confirmed for Monday — her credibility will be in question.

In addition to more witnesses and time to prepare, Democrats want the FBI to investigate the claims before any hearing is held.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday reiterated his support for Kavanaugh and said he saw no need to involve the FBI. “I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved,” he said. “This is not really their thing. The senators will do a good job.”

Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party while they were both in high school in the early 1980s. The nominee has denied the accusations.

Kavanaugh is expected to testify and Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, has offered to speak to the committee, though she has not yet committed to Monday, according to Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Our staff reached out to Dr. Ford’s lawyer with multiple emails yesterday to schedule a … call and inform her of the upcoming hearing, where she will have the opportunity to share her story with the committee,” said Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “Her lawyer has not yet responded.”

Democrats say the hearing is being set up to bolster Kavanaugh.

“If I were her lawyer, I’d be very concerned that it’s under these kind of totally disadvantageous conditions,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

The hearing and public views about how Ford’s allegation is being handled are now critical to whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a pivotal vote, said Tuesday that she wants Kavanaugh and Ford’s lawyer to be able to question the opposing side. After that, she suggested, senators would be allowed to pose questions.

“Such an approach would provide more continuity, elicit the most information and allow an in-depth examination of the allegations,” Collins wrote in a letter to the leaders of the committee.

Republicans have blasted Feinstein for not disclosing the allegation earlier. The senator received a letter from Ford in July, but did not refer the matter to the FBI until last week and did not share it with other members of the committee reviewing Kavanaugh’s before his confirmation hearing earlier this month. Feinstein has said she did not disclose the letter because Ford initially did not want to be publicly identified.

Republicans say Democrats are refusing to participate in setting up the hearing in an attempt to drag out the process. In addition to more witnesses, Democrats want the FBI to investigate the claims before any hearing is held.

Ford said there was at least one witness to the assault she alleges happened at a teen party — Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge. Feinstein said she wants to hear from him on Monday.

“What about individuals who were previously told about this incident?” Feinstein asked. “What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”

In media interviews in recent days, Judge has either denied the incident took place or said he did not remember it. He is the author of the book “Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk,” which details his drinking problem and blackouts as a
student.

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