Where do the Ford testimony negotiations stand?

CNN reports that negotiations between Christine Blasey Ford’s legal team and the Senate Judiciary Committee are moving forward such that it’s likely she will testify. I don’t know whether CNN’s report is accurate, but Committee staff does not appear to be pushing back against it.

Here is the essence of CNN’s report with my commentary:

The hearing cannot be on Monday. That’s not negotiable and is a red line. Katz proposed this Thursday; it’s possible, but not by any means set at this point.

By no means should the hearing be later than next Thursday.

Ford will not ever be in the same room as Kavanaugh. This also wasn’t negotiable, but it’s not a huge ask — witnesses can be separated and enter/leave at different times. It’s not an extraordinary request.

The request is extraordinary given that Ford has alleged criminal behavior. However, Republicans may have to cave on this one to keep certain GOP Senators on board.

Safety. This was the other key non-negotiable. Ford must be made to feel safe, which, given the threats that Katz laid out that have been directed toward Ford since this was all made public, is understood by all parties.

There should be mo problem here, as long as Ford isn’t being ridiculous about what makes her feel safe.

Kavanaugh must testify first, before Ford. This, according to congressional aides, is a non-starter. It’s not how the committee works, and given Kavanaugh would need to respond to Ford’s testimony, will not occur.

It damn sure better not occur.

No outside counsel to ask questions. Republicans on the committee agreed to hire outside counsel — a woman, with experience on these issues — to ask the bulk of the questions at the hearing. This is due to both optics (all 11 GOP members are men) and order (concern that the hearing would be deemed too quickly a political circus). Katz said this would make the hearing appear too much like a trial. This wasn’t viewed as a red line by Republicans, according to the sources, and wasn’t agreed to. It will be discussed amongst committee members and staff.

This should be a red line for the Committee. Ford and Katz don’t get to control who asks questions and are not in charge of “the optics.” If Ford’s claim has any validity, it shouldn’t matter who asks her questions about it.

The possibility of a subpoena for Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleged in her letter was also in the room at the time of the alleged assault. This is a non-starter for Republicans, who are firmly against allowing anyone outside the committee dictate who or what to subpoena.

Good. They should also be dead set against allowing anyone outside the committee to dictate who asks Ford questions.

The Committee is expected to respond to Ford’s legal team today with its counter-offer. I think at this point the best outcome would be that Team Ford overplays its hand and no hearing occurs. However, I doubt this will happen. More likely, there will be a hearing, with both sides compromising on the details.


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