At an impromptu press conference before departing to the storm-tossed states of North Carolina and South Carolina, President Trump said that he will “make a decision” about his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court if accuser Christine Blasey Ford can give “credible testimony” about her allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
If Ford appears before the Senate Judiciary committee, he said, “and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we'll have to make a decision.”
“If she shows up, that would be wonderful,” Trump said. “If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate.”
It remains unclear whether Ford will decide to accept an invitation by the committee to testify about an assault she said took place more than than 35 years ago. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote in a new letter to Ford’s attorneys that he hopes Ford will decide to appear. “You have stated repeatedly that Dr. Ford wants to tell her story,” Grassley wrote. “I sincerely hope that Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday.”
Reportedly, Grassley is willing to send committee staff to speak with Ford in California, where she is a professor at Palo Alto University. Separately, Grassley said on Wednesday that he is offering four potential venues for Ford to speak with staffers, including private or public hearings before his committee, or public or private interviews with committee staff.
"We’re going to continue to try to hear from Dr. Ford in any format she's comfortable [with] open session/closed session/private staff interviews/public staff interviews [because] her information is very important. We’ve provided an opportunity for her to put her story fwd on Monday," Grassley tweeted.
However, Ford does not want to testify before the Senate until an FBI investigation into the matter is conducted. Grassley said it is not the FBI’s “role to investigate a matter such as this,” and noted that the Constitution assigns to solely the Senate of advise and consent on presidential nominees.
More and more members of the Republican caucus are calling for a vote, which had originally been planned for Thursday. On Wednesday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tweeted, "If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said of the Democrats’ demands for an investigation are about “delaying the process till after the midterm elections.”
Some observers have likened the current impasse over Kavanaugh to nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas, then-President Ronald Reagan’s embattled Supreme Court pick in 1991. After weathering stiff cross-examination by Democrats and accusations of sexual misconduct by Anita Hill, Thomas said his treatment at the hands of the Senators reminded him of lynchings endured by blacks in the Deep South. Senate Republicans of the time, it has been said, were offended by the tardy inclusion of Anita Hill’s accusations, and may now resent a similar scenario being played out now. The key Republicans in the current impasse may be Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski -- all of whom have been critical of President Trump on critical issues in the past, including abortion and Obamacare.
Some in Washington are predicting that Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, while seeking to energize their base before the November election, will introduce new information this week or over the weekend to stall Kavanaugh’s confirmation and be as disruptive and vocal as they were on the first day of his nomination hearings.