After posting a schedule for a Monday morning vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court, Republicans late on Friday night gave extra time to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to consider testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, still trying to work out an agreement for testimony from a woman who accused the judge of sexual misconduct back when they were teenagers, allegations that have thrown Kavanaugh’s nomination into question.
“It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) tweeted late Friday night from his home state of Iowa, as he tried to both press ahead with a vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, and hold open the possibility of testimony from Ford.
The late night change of heart created an odd mixture of reaction, as even after Grassley said he was giving more time to Ford’s legal team, Democrats were churning out news releases after midnight criticizing Republicans for their treatment of the allegations leveled against Kavanaugh.
“By blocking both an FBI investigation and a hearing where all three witnesses present during the assault could answer questions under oath, the Senate will fail in its duty to the American people,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
As the sun rose on Saturday morning, it still wasn’t clear whether Ford would testify.
“Dr. Blasey Ford has been clear in her desire to testify following an independent, thorough investigation by the FBI,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
But Republicans were still suspicious of the allegations brought by Ford, who says she was sexually attacked by Kavanaugh at a high school party in the 1980’s.
“Their decision to reveal this allegation at the most politically damaging moment reeks of opportunism,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Under the timeline originally unveiled by the Judiciary Committee on Friday night, Republicans scheduled a vote for Monday morning on a list of judges, with one prominent name at the top of the list:
“Brett M. Kavanaugh, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” it read.
Ford’s lawyers wanted her to testify next Thursday – Grassley and Republicans were offering Wednesday. There was also talk of Ford talking directly to investigators in California, instead of traveling to Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, there was no guarantee that Republicans would have the votes to approve the Kavanaugh nomination, as several key Senators, Collins of Maine, Flake of Arizona, and Murkowski of Alaska, have been silent on how they viewed the political fortunes of the nominee.
Collins on Friday had sharply criticized tweets from President Trump which criticized Ford by name, Mr. Trump’s first direct foray into the dispute over what happened at a party 36 years ago.
“In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday, drawing big cheers at the conservative Values Voters Summit in Washington.