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Accuser of US top court nominee Kavanaugh goes public

  • Published at 05:51 pm September 17th, 2018
USA-COURT-Brett Kavanaugh
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, September 6, 2018 Reuters

The Judiciary Committee has completed its hearings on Kavanaugh and plans to vote on Thursday on his nomination

A woman who had anonymously accused President Donald Trump's US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s went public on Sunday, prompting Republicans to plan further discussions about his nomination before a committee vote this week.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, said that as a high school student in suburban Maryland decades earlier, a "stumbling drunk" Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to remove her clothing.

She said that when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told the newspaper, adding: "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Last week, Kavanaugh, the Republican president's second nominee for a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court, said he "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegations.

Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman Taylor Foy said Senator Chuck Grassley, the panel's chairman, was working to set up follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford before the committee's scheduled vote on Kavanaugh on Thursday, given the disclosure of Ford's identity and "the late addendum to the background file."

"The Chairman and Ranking Member routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to nominees' background files," Foy said in a statement.

Since Trump's fellow Republicans control a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, and with Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, Democrats cannot stop Kavanaugh's appointment unless some Republicans make a rare decision to break with their party and vote against Trump.

Some said they would like Ford to be given a chance to tell her story.

Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, told the Post on Sunday that Ford "must be heard" and urged the panel not to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination until it can hear from her.

Another committee Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, said he "would gladly" hear from Ford if she wanted to appear before the panel, but it would have to be done quickly.

"If the committee is to hear from Ms Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled," Graham said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee has completed its hearings on Kavanaugh and plans to vote on Thursday on his nomination. A positive vote would send the matter to the full Senate.

Republicans have just an 11-10 majority on the committee, so Flake's vote could make a difference. While it would be unusual, the committee is not required, however, to approve Kavanaugh before the full Senate votes.