10:27, September 21 243 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-21 10:27:04
Trump breaks restraint and casts doubt on Kavanaugh accuser

Donald Trump has cast doubt on the woman who accused his supreme court pick Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and blamed opponents for trying to “destroy” his nominee.

After days of restrained comments about the allegations from California professor Christine Blasey Ford, Trump tweeted on Friday, questioning her account of what happened between her and Kavanaugh at a party in 1982 when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump said. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!

Trump said he believes Kavanaugh is “under assault by radical leftwing politicians”. In the tweets on Friday, he said that Kavanaugh has an “impeccable reputation” and that Democrats “don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay”.

A Senate panel vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation was delayed after Ford’s allegations came out last week.

Ford told a Senate committee she would be willing to testify later next week as a Friday morning deadline set by the Republican-led Senate judiciary committee loomed. The panel had scheduled a hearing on Monday.

Ford is asking for the hearing on Capitol Hill in which she will testify against Kavanaugh be moved to next Thursday.

Ford had already indicated that she cannot be prepared by Monday, as the current schedule for a hearing in front of the Senate judiciary committee demands.

The California professor is willing to come to Washington to give her account and be questioned by senators, but doesn’t want Kavanaugh in the same room, her attorney told judiciary committee staff in a 30-minute phone call later on Thursday. The conversation also touched on security concerns and others issues, according to a Senate aide who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because public discussion of the matter was unauthorized.

Ford is willing to give her account to the judiciary committee, whose senators need to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation before it goes to a full Senate vote.

But she will only appear if agreement can be reached on “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety”, the attorney, Debra Katz, said in an email to the committee revealed earlier on Thursday. In the later call, the lawyer said Ford needed more time to secure her family, prepare her testimony and travel to the capital. No decisions were reached, the aide said.

On Thursday night, Donald Trump, who had been uncharacteristically restrained in his comments on the crisis, challenged Ford’s story, during an interview with Fox News while at a rally in Las Vegas.

“I think it’s a very sad situation,” said Trump, asking: “Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago? ... What’s going on?”

While he said Ford should “have her say”, he made clear he was done waiting: “I don’t think you can delay it any longer. They’ve delayed it a week already.”

Kavanaugh, 53, currently a judge on the powerful US court of appeals for the DC circuit, has repeatedly denied her allegation. The accusation has jarred the 53-year-old conservative jurist’s prospects for winning confirmation which, until Ford’s emergence last week, had seemed all but certain.

Supporters of both Kavanaugh and Ford have been lining up to vouch for their side. It also emerged this week that a prominent Yale law professor told students it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice them about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him.

There was no word from Capitol Hill early Friday morning about whether the committee will move the hearing.

Republicans are anxious to move ahead to a vote by the committee, where they hold an 11-10 majority, and then by the full Senate, which they control, 51-49.

Taylor Foy, the spokesman for Republicans on the panel, said after the Thursday phone call that Grassley “will consult with his colleagues on the committee. He remains committed to providing a fair forum for both Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.”

Katz emphasized that Ford, 51, a psychology professor in northern California, has received death threats and for safety reasons has relocated her family.

“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” Katz wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Guardian and the Associated Press after first being reported by the New York Times.