The New York Times and the Washington Post both reported Saturday night that an agreement has been reached between the Senate Judiciary Committee and Christine Blasey Ford. The agreement called for Ford to testify before the committee sometime on Thursday.
The deal, which has not been finalized, was termed “tentative” because the negotiations over the details were to continue on Sunday. This means the deal could still fall apart if the parties can’t agree on the details before Monday.
The tentative deal was reached during a telephone call between staff members of the Judiciary Committee and Ford’s attorneys. Ford is the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kavanaugh will also testify before the committee on Thursday.
News reports say the call lasted approximately 20 minutes and that all parties on the call unanimously agreed on next Thursday as the date for both Ford and Kavanaugh to give their sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee.
It is hoped that lawyers for Ford and staffers for the Judiciary Committee will be able to reach agreement on the details and finalize the deal Sunday. This would be a major shift for Republicans, who wanted Ford, a 51-year-old professor from California, to testify on Monday.
News outlets tried to reach Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for comment on the tentative agreement but he was unavailable.
With all parties agreeing on a Thursday date for testimony to occur, a major stumbling block had been overcome. Ford and her attorneys had announced earlier Saturday that she was willing to testify next week, but they had not yet agreed on a date.
In the email sent on Saturday afternoon Ford’s attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks wrote:
“Many aspects of the proposal you provided via email … are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process, we are hopeful that we can reach agreement on detail.”
The two sides have not been able to agree on details for Ford’s appearance and testimony, and she had previously set conditions which the Judiciary Committee found unacceptable. This led to several days of negotiations over the details after Ford had opened the door to testifying.
Grassley‘s staff have agreed to some of her requests such as limiting camera access, giving timely breaks, giving her Capitol Police protection and keeping her and Kavanaugh in separate rooms.
But they remain divided on other details such as the order of the hearing. Ford’s lawyers want Kavanaugh to go first but Republicans have insisted that he go second. Ford’s lawyers also want additional witnesses to testify, and they want to subpoena Mark Judge, a classmate of Kavanaugh‘s, who Ford says was present at the time of the attack.
And Republicans want to use a lawyer, probably a woman, to ask Ford questions. But Ford’s lawyers have raised concerns that it would make a hearing too much like a trial.
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a high school party in the early 1980s. In an interview last Sunday Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to remove her clothes and covered her mouth when she tried to cry out.
Kavanaugh has denied any wrongdoing and said the events Ford described never occurred. White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement on Saturday night that Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denies the allegation.