Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
WASHINGTON — Lawyers for the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh spoke with attorneys for the Senate Judiciary Committee and laid out conditions for her appearance before the panel, including not being in the hearing room with him and assurances that she will be safe.
In nearly an hour-long telephone call in which the Judiciary Committee staff did most of the listening, Debra Katz, an attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, went through a series of concerns and preferences should she agree to appear before the committee next week.
It’s the first time Republicans on the committee have spoken directly with Ford’s attorneys since she went public with the allegation against Kavanaugh on Sunday and the discussion seems to have thawed a stand-off between the two parties as to whether she would testify.
Among the requests, the one that appeared to be non-negotiable for Ford was a Monday appearance. The earliest she could show would be Thursday, Republican and Democratic sources told NBC News. Monday is the day that Senate Republicans had originally offered for Ford to come testify and when Kavanaugh has said he is ready to testify.
Ford’s attorney also relayed her concern about security and asked that the committee work with her to ensure she would be safe if she agrees to testify.
Here are the other items Ford requested:
- Wants to testify second and Kavanaugh to appear first;
- Doesn’t want Kavanaugh in the room at the same time with her;
- Prefers not to be questioned by outside counsel, but rather by the senators on the committee;
- Would like the committee to subpoena Mark Judge, the other student Ford alleges to be in the room at the time of the assault, to testify;
- Says each senator should have equal time questioning (already committee practice);
- No time limit on her opening statement; and
- Will appear at a public hearing but she would like to limit the number of cameras to pool coverage.
After the call concluded, Katz sent to the participants on the call a letter re-stating their position, according to a copy of the letter obtained by NBC News. Katz wrote that she wanted “to be clear” about their position. “The only issue I said was a deal breaker was that Dr. Ford cannot appear at a hearing on Monday for the reasons I described.” Katz adds that Ford can’t meet Grassley’s demand that she submit written testimony by 10 a.m. Friday, calling it a “non-starter.”
“She needs sufficient time to settle things with her family in California, travel east, and prepare for her testimony” while at the same time “take appropriate security precautions in the face of the avalanche of threats,” the letter reads.
In addition, Katz writes that she has “registered a strong objection” to bringing in outside counsel to question Ford. Republicans said earlier on Thursday they were strongly considering on bringing in a woman litigator to question Ford instead of the senators to avoid the optics of an all-male, Republican panel questioning her.
“Senators should be the questioners as they have been for all other witnesses who have appeared before the Committee in connection with this nomination and with respect to all others of which I am aware,” Katz wrote.
After consulting with his fellow Republicans on the committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is expected to present Ford with a counter offer as early as Friday.
As for the viability of the requests, the most controversial one is expected to be the subpoena of Judge, who has said he doesn’t want to testify. It is unlikely that Republicans would allow a witness to dictate a subpoena of another witness.
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a party in high school when Kavanaugh attended the elite all-boys Georgetown Preparatory School outside of Washington, D.C. Ford detailed, in an account to the Washington Post, that she was 15 at the time and attended the all-girls school, Holton-Arms.