Kavanaugh, accuser will be called to testify in Senate next Monday

By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of a 1982 sexual assault will be called to testify in the Senate next Monday, the chamber’s Judiciary Committee chairman said, pushing back a key vote in the judge’s confirmation process.

With Kavanaugh‘s once-safe nomination for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court now appearing in jeopardy, the conservative federal appeals court judge had meetings at the White House earlier on Monday and issued a fresh denial, calling the assault allegation “completely false.”

Trump‘s fellow Republicans in the Senate, which must confirm Supreme Court appointments, looked for a way forward.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the committee would hold a public hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, next Monday.

“As I said earlier, anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard. My staff has reached out to Dr. Ford to hear her account, and they held a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon,” Grassley said.

“Unfortunately, committee Democrats have refused to join us in this effort. However, to provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing,” Grassley said.

The move would delay a planned vote in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of trying to attack her and remove her clothing while drunk 36 years ago in a Maryland suburb outside Washington when they were students at different high schools.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to hold a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh before the Oct. 1 start of the Supreme Court‘s new term. It was unclear whether that goal will have to be adjusted.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Heavey, Amanda Becker, Doina Chiacu and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)