The Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed holding a hearing next Wednesday where they will hear testimony from both Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
A deadline for Ford’s legal team to respond to Senate Republicans’ proposal for the hearing has been extended from 5 p.m. ET Friday to 10 p.m., Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement. If Ford’s lawyers do not respond to the proposal or Ford decides not to testify by the deadline, Grassley said, the committee will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday.
“It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible,” the Iowa Republican said in the statement, later adding that the committee “cannot continue to delay.”
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.
Her 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.
In response to Republicans’ proposal for a hearing for Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused them of rushing Ford, saying their proposal was “mean-spirited and candidly shows no sympathy or empathy whatsoever.”
“Republicans should show a little compassion, not to mention consideration that she’ll need to prepare for the hearing,” the California senator said in a statement Friday, adding, “Just because Republicans don’t need to prepare doesn’t mean Dr. Ford should be rushed.”
Another source told CNN that Republicans are dealing with internal disagreements about whether they should even 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.
Kavanaugh has denied the sexual assault allegation.
The order of testimonies is the opposite of what Ford, through her lawyers, has requested, according to a senior congressional source.
Ford also requested that at no point during any potential hearing could Ford be in the same room as Kavanaugh.
The use of an outside counsel is already 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.”
By Phil Mattingly, Dana Bash, Manu Raju, Devan Cole and Sunlen Serfaty, CNN