U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the integrity of the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault years ago, posting Friday on Twitter that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.
Trump also accused “radical left wing politicians” of attacking Kavanaugh, who Christine Blasey Ford said sexually assaulted her at a house party 36 years ago.
Lawyers for Ford said she wanted to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety was ensured.
Attorney Debra Katz said her client had received death threats, and that Ford and her family had been forced out of their California home.
But according to U.S. media reports, Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford still wished to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, had scheduled a hearing for next Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear in public to tell their stories.
But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”
Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” was that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to probe the charges against Kavanaugh.
Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wanted to tell his side in a Monday hearing.
“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.
Media reports said Kavanaugh had also received what law enforcement officials said were credible death threats.
Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senate appeared to be a near certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor.
She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school.
She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to escape.
Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman.
Women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them. Dozens of women who support Kavanaugh held a Washington news conference Friday.
Sara Fagen, who described herself as a friend and former colleague of Kavanaugh, said she and the other women at the news conference believe the allegation is untrue.
“The reason that we know that this allegation is false is because we know Brett Kavanaugh,” Fagen said. “We know his heart and we have known him over every aspect of his life, and the charge leveled against him is inconsistent with every single thing we know about him. So we stand here proud to support Brett and confident that the things being talked about are completely wrong.”
Trump has regularly expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying earlier this week “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford. But the president said he wanted her to testify, saying, “I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” and that if it takes the Senate a little longer to confirm Kavanaugh, so be it.
Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on Oct. 1 or, if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.