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Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation before she will testify: lawyer

By Lawrence Hurley and Eric Beech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A woman who has accused President Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault decades ago wants her allegations to be investigated by the FBI before she appears at a U.S. Senate hearing, one of her lawyers said on Tuesday.

Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor in California, has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her in 1982 when they were both high school students, allegations Kavanaugh has called “completely false.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing the nomination, has called a hearing for Monday to look into the matter, and the White House has said Kavanaugh was ready to testify.

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“Nothing of substance and nothing legitimate can happen by Monday,” Lisa Banks, an attorney for Ford, told CNN.

In a letter to the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, Ford‘s attorneys said an FBI investigation should take place before any testimony. A copy of the letter was posted on CNN‘s website.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” the lawyers wrote.

A spokesman for the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats, already fiercely opposed to the nominee, have also been seeking an FBI investigation, a request that Republicans have rebuffed. Trump and other Republicans said they did not think the FBI needed to be involved.

A hearing would represent a potential make-or-break moment for the conservative federal appeals court judge’s confirmation chances for the lifetime post on the top U.S. court, as Trump pursues his goal of moving the federal judiciary to the right.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of trying to attack her and remove her clothing while he was drunk at a party in a Maryland suburb outside Washington.

Republicans control the Senate by only a narrow margin, meaning any defections within the party could sink the nomination and deal a major setback to Trump.

Earlier on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican on the committee, said the panel would vote on Kavanaugh‘s nomination next week whether or not Ford testified.

“If she does not want to come Monday, publicly or privately, we’re going to move on and vote Wednesday,” he told Fox News Channel.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Roberta Rampton, Steve Holland, Andrew Chung, Amanda Becker and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

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