The woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the episode, her attorney said Monday, shortly before the Supreme Court nominee again denied the allegation and said he would also talk to the committee.
In his first public statement since a Washington Post report identified California college professor Christine Blasey Ford as the accuser, Judge Kavanaugh said it “is a completely false allegation.” He added: “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone.” He said he didn’t know who was making the accusation “until she identified herself yesterday.”
Judge Kavanaugh visited the White House Monday morning as reports of the allegations dominated news coverage.
Meantime, in a tweet, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that “Judge Kavanaugh is willing to add to his dozens of hours of sworn testimony” and “is ready to defend his honor and integrity.” Earlier, Ms. Conway told Fox News that “this woman should not be insulted and should not be ignored.”
Mrs. Ford came forward Sunday with her public allegation, and the willingness by both her and Judge Kavanaugh to appear before the committee means the White House and Senate Republican leaders must decide quickly how to proceed on a nomination that had been going smoothly so far. The Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to vote on Judge Kavanaugh Thursday, with a vote by the full Senate before the Supreme Court’s coming term starting Oct. 1.
Now, GOP leaders may have to revisit that schedule, in part because at least two Republican senators—including Jeff Flake of Arizona, who sits on the Judiciary Committee—have said they favor delaying the vote. Republicans hold narrow margins of 11-10 in the committee and 51-49 in the full Senate, so any defections are potentially significant.
When asked on CNN Monday morning whether Mrs. Ford would be willing to testify, her attorney, Debra Katz, said, “The answer is yes,” although Mrs. Ford hadn’t been approached by the committee, Ms. Katz told CNN. “We’ve heard from no one,” she said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said several days ago she had reported a matter involving Judge Kavanaugh to the FBI. On Sunday she confirmed Mrs. Ford was the person involved in the allegations. Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Democrats have long been seeking to slow down the Kavanaugh confirmation process, which they argue has been rushed in an effort to get the judge seated before November’s midterm elections. Republicans are now seen by political strategists as likely to retain control of the Senate in November, but should Democrats take the chamber it would upend Republicans’ efforts to fill the now-vacant Supreme Court seat if the process extends past the election.
Republicans, including President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, see their success in putting conservatives on the bench, especially the Supreme Court, as one of their biggest achievements in the Trump era.
A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said Sunday that the committee vote was still scheduled for Thursday. But hours later, Mr. Flake said he wouldn’t vote for Judge Kavanaugh to advance to the full Senate until the committee had heard from Mrs. Ford.
“I would not vote yes until we hear more from the woman who’s come forward,” Mr. Flake said in an interview. With Republicans holding just a one-vote majority on the committee, a defection by Mr. Flake would prevent the panel from favorably advancing Judge Kavanaugh to the full Senate. Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told Politico he also supported delaying the vote to hear from Mrs. Ford, while Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) told CNN she was discussing the matter with colleagues.
In a tweet around midday Monday, Ms. Collins said: “Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.”
Mrs. Ford, in a Washington Post article, said that when she and Mr. Kavanaugh were teenagers at a party in the Washington, D.C., area, he and a friend pulled her into a bedroom. Mr. Kavanaugh pinned her down on the bed, groped her and attempted to remove her clothing before she escaped, Mrs. Ford said in the article.
Mrs. Ford, who is a professor at Palo Alto University in California, described the episode as aggressive. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she told the Post.
Judge Kavanaugh, 53 years old, denied the assertions when they began to surface, without the accuser’s name, last week. “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Judge Kavanaugh said in a statement released through the White House. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Efforts to reach Mrs. Ford weren’t successful. The White House didn’t change its stance after she came forward.
“On Friday, Judge Kavanaugh ‘categorically and unequivocally’ denied this allegation. This has not changed,” White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Sunday. “Judge Kavanaugh and the White House both stand by that statement.”
It is unclear whether Mrs. Ford would testify before the committee, either in private or in public.
When the Supreme Court’s fall term begins in October, justices will hear cases that could impact the criminal justice system, major tech companies and charities. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday looks at key cases on the docket. Photo: AP.
The outlines of Mrs. Ford’s allegation emerged publicly several days ago when Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she had reported a matter involving Judge Kavanaugh to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mrs. Feinstein didn’t initially name Mrs. Ford, saying the individual had requested confidentiality.
On Sunday, Mrs. Feinstein confirmed in a statement that Mrs. Ford was the person who had made the allegations.