Grassley agrees to give Ford more time to decide on Senate testimony
Phil Mattingly, Dana Bash, Manu Raju, Devan Cole and Sunlen Serfaty, CNN - Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley agreed late Friday night to allow the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more time to decide whether to testify before Congress.
Grassley tweeted that he "granted another extension" to Christine Blasey Ford, saying "she (should) decide so we can move on. I want to hear her."
The committee earlier Friday had set a deadline of 5 p.m. ET for Ford to decide, later extending that to 10 p.m. In response, Debra Katz, who is representing Ford, wrote in a letter to the committee that its "cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate."
Calling the deadline arbitrary, Katz wrote in a letter that "our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make her decision."
The letter comes after the committee proposed holding a hearing next Wednesday where it would hear testimony from both Kavanaugh and Ford, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. Kavanaugh has denied the sexual assault allegation.
Had Ford's lawyers not responded to the proposal or if Ford decided not to testify by the deadline, Grassley said, the committee would vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Monday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused Republicans of "bullying a survivor of attempted rape in order to confirm a nominee" by saying they will vote Monday on the nomination if they don't reach an agreement with Ford and her lawyers for her to testify.
"It's clear that Republicans have learned nothing over the last 27 years. Bullying a survivor of attempted rape in order to confirm a nominee—particularly at a time when she's receiving death threats—is an extreme abuse of power," Feinstein said in a statement. "I'm shocked and appalled by the Republicans' refusal to wait 24 hours for a hearing and instead rush forward with a vote on Monday. From the outset Republicans have tried to push through this nomination at all costs."
Max Young, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said, "At approximately 2:30 Republicans sent her a proposal and gave her a 5 p.m. deadline. Shortly after they wrote her, she responded and said I need 24 hours to talk to my client. At 6:30 they gave her a 10 p.m. deadline. ... At this point, the Senate has shown significantly more deference to Facebook and Google's hearing-scheduling requests than to Ford's."
Ford's lawyers said Thursday night that Ford wouldn't be able to get to Washington before next Thursday because of all that her family is dealing with, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
The proposed hearing, according to three sources, would include an outside counsel who would ask questions. The proposal calls for Ford to testify first and Kavanaugh second.
The order of testimonies is the opposite of what Ford, through her lawyers, has requested, according to a senior congressional source.
Another source told CNN that Republicans are dealing with internal disagreements about whether they should use an outside counsel. Multiple senior members of the committee are pushing for one, while others are less interested, according to the source, making it unclear whether this will make it into the final proposal to Ford.
Her lawyers previously suggested that the committee's senators question their client, not an outside counsel.
A Senate Republican aide told CNN Friday that a special counsel would prevent the politicization of Ford's questioning.
"Senate Democrats rightly said that the Senate should not bully Dr. Ford ... the way to depoliticize that and ensure that is with an outside counsel," they said.
But the use of an outside counsel is receiving pushback from Senate Democrats. An aide to a member of the Senate's Democratic leadership told CNN that, "outside counsel doesn't vote on Kavanaugh. Senators do. Republicans need to do their jobs and not hide."
Ford also requested that at no point during any potential hearing would she be in the same room as Kavanaugh.