How it looks: Optics key in fight over Kavanaugh hearing

Gate and Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears at a confirmation hearing in Washington Sept. 4 2018

Donald Trump has questioned a professor's claim she was sexually assaulted by a Supreme Court nominee, suggesting that if it happened charges would have been filed "immediately".

Ford has alleged that in the early 1980s Kavanaugh and a friend took her into a room where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothes and put his hands over her mouth to muffle her when they were both teenagers at a house party in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Asked if she believes Ford's account, Kessinger responded, "I believe that something may have happened to this woman ... but I don't believe Brett Kavanaugh committed those allegations".

Trump also made clear his opinion on Ford's claims Friday, tweeting, "if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities".

Attorney Debra Katz said her client, Christine Blasey Ford, has gotten death threats and she and her family have been forced out of their California home.

The split between Trump Jr. and Flake illustrates the differing approach that Republicans have taken in addressing Ford's accusations.

Grassley, a Republican, sent a letter on Wednesday to Ford's lawyers giving her until 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday to submit prepared testimony if she meant to show up on Monday.

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, has said he is ready to appear on Monday (Tuesday NZT).

Senate Judiciary Committee staff continue to negotiate with Ford's attorneys but say two of her requests discussed in a conference call with committee staff from both parties on Thursday - to have Kavanaugh testify first and for the committee to subpoena other witnesses like Mark Judge - are "nonstarters", according to a senior Senate Republican source familiar with the discussions.

Ford told the Washington Post that she didn't tell anyone about her alleged assault at the time, anxious that she might get in trouble for being at a party with underage drinking.

"As you are aware, she's been receiving death threats which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and she and her family have been forced out of their home", Katz wrote to the committee.




"That's when I will make my determination in regards to Judge Kavanaugh".

The lawyers said Ford was opposed to being questioned by outside counsel, according to Politico. But he also called for Ford's voice to be heard: "With all of that, I feel that the Republicans-and I can speak for myself-we should go through a process, because there shouldn't be even a little doubt".

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh arrives on the first day of his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, on September 4, 2018.

Ford's attorney said Ford would like to testify first, but that might be complicated because Kavanaugh has already agreed to Monday's scheduled hearing. She said she will not go through with a committee interview if asked.

Grassley has allowed Judge to testify unofficially, through the letter written by his attorney and released to the public.

The FBI conducted a background check on Kavanaugh as part of the White House's review process of vetting him for the Supreme Court.

If the Senate GOP leadership moves forward with a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, they run the risk of alienating female voters like Cordes in the Denver suburbs, where vulnerable Republican Rep. Mike Coffman's campaign could play a role in deciding the House majority this fall. Ford's lawyers and Democrats on the panel want the FBI to investigate the charges.

By refusing to call Mark Judge as a witness, and refusing to direct the FBI to investigate, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the president are in lockstep. 'But they've delayed it a week, and they have to get on with it'.

Republicans have resisted all Democratic efforts to slow and perhaps block Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Midterm elections in November are seen as a popularity test for Trump and the Republican Party.

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