Grassley responds to Ford’s demands, sets new response deadline, and issues new ultimatum

Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley has issued this statement about how his Committee now intends to proceed:

Despite the fact that the July 30th letter [containing Dr. Ford’s allegations] remains hidden, my committee has been investigating the allegations and has heard from multiple witnesses since Sunday. Ms. Katz has discussed Dr. Ford’s allegations in numerous media interviews and said on TV Monday morning that Dr. Ford wants to share her account with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible. I’m extending the deadline for response yet again to 10 o’clock this evening.

I’m providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr. Ford’s attorneys don’t respond or Dr. Ford decides not to testify. In the event that we can come to a reasonable resolution as I’ve been seeking all week, then I will postpone the committee vote to accommodate her testimony. We cannot continue to delay.

(Emphasis added)

Grassley also sent Team Ford a letter providing the Committee’s response to Ford’s demands. It sets the terms Ford is being asked to accept by 10:00 p.m. tonight.:

You demanded that we not hold the hearing on Monday because Dr. Ford needs time to prepare her testimony. Because Dr. Ford’s testimony will concern only her personal knowledge of events, events which she already described to the Washington Post, holding a hearing more than one week after she aired these allegations is more than reasonable. We will nevertheless reschedule the hearing for later in the week, as you requested. The Committee will take Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony on Wednesday, September 26. . . .

We also accept some of your other demands. You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh not be in the hearing room during Dr. Ford’s testimony. We have no objection to that.

You demanded that only one camera be permitted in the hearing room and that there be limited press access. We have no objection to that.

You demanded that the number of rounds and minutes per round of questions be equal for all senators. We have no objection to that.

You demanded that Dr. Ford be given adequate breaks during her testimony. We of course have no objection to that.

You also expressed concerns about Dr. Ford’s safety and that the Senate provide adequate security. This, of course, we will do. The Capitol Police offers more than adequate security. The Senate hosts the President, Vice President, Cabinet secretaries, heads of state, and other prominent public figures all the time with the necessary precautions.

Some of your other demands, however, are unreasonable and we are unable to accommodate them. You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh be the first person to testify. Accommodating this demand would be an affront to fundamental notions of due process. In the United States, an individual accused of a crime is entitled to a presumption of innocence. And, further, the accused has the right to respond to allegations that are made about him. Judge Kavanaugh cannot be expected to respond to allegations that have been made to the press. He is entitled to hear the full, detailed testimony of Dr. Ford before he testifies. You have indicated that Dr. Ford has allegations that she would like to make in public and under oath. She will have the opportunity to do so before we give Judge Kavanaugh the opportunity to respond.

You also demanded that only senators be permitted to ask questions of the witnesses. We are also unable to accommodate this demand. There is no rule of the Senate or the Committee that precludes staff attorneys from asking witnesses questions. We reserve the option to have female staff attorneys, who are sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Ford’s allegations and are experienced investigators, question both witnesses. We believe this will allow for informed questioning, will generate the most insightful testimony, and will help de-politicize the hearing.

You demanded that the Committee issue subpoenas for the testimony of Mark Judge and other unidentified witnesses. The Committee is unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take subpoena requests from witnesses as a condition of their testimony. You went on television earlier this week and said Dr. Ford wants the chance to tell her story in public and under oath. This is the opportunity we have given her. We don’t need to subpoena additional witnesses to do that.

You demanded that the Committee call additional witnesses that Dr. Ford requests. We are unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take witness requests from other witnesses. Mark Judge and one other alleged witness to the events Dr. Ford has described have already denied the allegations under penalty of felony to the Committee. We can obtain additional testimony through staff interviews, obtaining statements, or other means that are subject to penalties of felony, if necessary.

(Emphasis added)

So, as things stand now, Team Ford has until 10:00 tonight to respond to these terms. If she doesn’t respond, or says she won’t testify, the Committee votes on Monday.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford’s lawyers make a counter-proposal to Grassley’s counter-proposal. Although Grassley’s statement almost invites this tactic, I hope that if Team Ford uses it, the Chairman will put an end to this dance and move the Committee to a Monday vote.

If he does, I wouldn’t be surprised if Team Ford capitulates. It looks like Grassley has the votes to move ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Ford can stop the train only by testifying.

Or so it seems to me.

JOHN adds: All I can say is, thank God for Chuck Grassley.

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