Brett Kavanaugh: Judge accuser agrees to testify next week

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Brett Kavanaugh denies the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford

The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has agreed to testify against him next week.

Lawyers for Dr Christine Blasey Ford said she had accepted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request to appear before them to be questioned about the alleged attack at a party in 1982.

Some reports say she will testify on Wednesday or Thursday.

Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The allegations, which emerged in the US media last week, have delayed his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

What has Dr Ford said about testifying?

Dr Ford, a university professor, had originally been granted a deadline of Friday to agree to testify. This was later extended to Saturday by Senator Chuck Grassley, the leading Republican on the committee.

Dr Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz said in a letter to the committee on Saturday that her client had accepted the request but wanted to “continue our negotiations” on the details.

She also criticised the process and said some of what the senators had been proposing was “fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations” – but it was not clear to what she was referring.

How did the allegations come to light?

The allegation against Judge Kavanaugh became public last week, after it emerged Prof Ford had detailed the alleged assault in a confidential letter to the top Democratic senator on the judiciary committee, Dianne Feinstein, in July.

As the judge neared confirmation, news about the letter leaked to US media. Ms Feinstein then confirmed she had passed it on to the FBI.

After days of continued media speculation, Prof Ford went on record in a Washington Post article as the mystery accuser, detailing the alleged assault.

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Media captionWhy it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out

She said Mr Kavanaugh had tried to drunkenly remove her clothing at a party, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth when she was 15 and he was 17.

Since then, her lawyers have been in back-and-forth negotiations with the judicial committee, trying to agree on terms for her to testify.

She had asked for a number of preconditions, including not testifying with Mr Kavanaugh in the room and the subpoenaing of his friend, Mark Judge, who she said had witnessed the alleged sexual assault.

What has been the reaction?

Some Republicans, including President Trump, have accused her and Democratic politicians of deliberately trying to delay and obstruct the judge’s confirmation, and urged them to push forward the process.

The feelings are strong on both sides – with both Prof Ford and Brett Kavanaugh and his wife receiving threats and rallies of support over the matter.

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Media captionAlumni of Ford’s school: “We believe her”

Why is the hearing important?

The choice of a new justice for the Supreme Court is pivotal, as it often gives the final word on highly contentious laws and its nine judges have an immense impact on US public life.

As Mr Trump’s pick, Brett Kavanaugh has to first be approved by the Senate before he can take his seat – but before that vote can happen, he has to be approved by the judiciary committee, where Prof Ford will now testify.

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The Senate is made up of 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats – so her testimony on the allegations could prove key.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh pauses while delivering his opening statement during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. U.S. Republicans set Monday vote on Kavanaugh if no deal for hearing