WASHINGTON — The California professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school is willing to testify to the Senate, her lawyer told “CBS This Morning” on Monday.
The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward on Sunday with her claim that a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to take off her clothes at a party around 1982. Her allegation has now put in doubt the timing of a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and perhaps the nomination itself.
Debra Katz, the attorney for Ford, said on CBS that her client “will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story and the full set of allegations to allow them to make a fully informed decision.”
Kavanaugh again denied the allegations, but said he also would be willing to speak to the Judiciary Committee.
“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone,” he said.
“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.
I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
Ford also alleges that a friend of Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge, was a participant in the incident. He told the Weekly Standard on Sunday that he has “no recollection” of it.
The situation already is drawing comparisons to the confirmation process for Clarence Thomas, who in 1991 seemed to be on his way to confirmation until Anita Hill, who worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education, accused him of sexual harassment. Her testimony, and Thomas’s later denials, riveted the country and drew huge TV audiences. Thomas was confirmed, but the hearings had huge political ramifications and raised awareness of workplace sexual harassment. Hill is now leading an entertainment industry commission on sexual harassment, launched after allegations surfaced against Harvey Weinstein and other industry figures.
Ford initially declined to come forward. According to the Post, she contacted the publication’s tip line as Kavanaugh was under consideration by President Donald Trump, and she later sent a letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who forwarded it to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Republican leadership on the Judiciary Committee have questioned the timing of the revelation of Ford’s letter and her allegation, coming just as the committee was preparing to vote on the nomination on Thursday. But Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said that the vote should not be held until senators hear more about the allegations. The committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), has not delayed the vote.
On NBC’s “Today,” Katz defended Ford’s initial decision to stay anonymous and then to come forward. Katz said, “I would say no one in their right mind regardless of their motive would want to inject themselves into this process and face the kind of annihilation that she will be subjected to by those who want this nominee to go through.”
At the White House, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told reporters, “She should not be insulted. She should not be ignored. She should testify under oath and she should do it on Capitol Hill.” She also said that “Judge Kavanaugh should also testify as to these 36-year-old allegations.”
Update: Time’s Up, the initiative launched by Hollywood figures earlier this year to create safe workplaces for women, issued a statement calling for a full investigation of the allegations.
“There was a time when business as usual could continue amid credible allegations of sexual violence. But that era has ended forever.
“A man who could be our next U.S. Supreme Court Justice has been accused of sexual assault. There is no path forward for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination until those credible and serious allegations have been investigated. We demand that the U.S. Senate postpone any vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until a thorough and complete examination has been completed.
“If confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh would have tremendous influence over the lives of working women for generations to come. A lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land should not be rushed through without thorough vetting of all critical issues.
“If this moment in time feels strangely familiar, it’s because it is. Listen to Christine Blasey Ford. A woman’s experience should never be valued less than a man’s career.”