The deadline for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys to answer the Senate’s invitation to come and testify on Monday was 2:30 pm eastern time today. Just under the wire, an answer was received, but it wasn’t much of an answer at all. The first hint I saw of the non-answer came from Manu Raju on Twitter.
Christine Blasey Ford ACCEPTS request to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The exact terms and timing are uncertain as Ford’s attorney asks to continue negotiations today with committee staff. pic.twitter.com/r4ScBPSl7o
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 22, 2018
This is a non-answer in every sense of the phrase. Some of the more liberal outlets were trying to put a positive spin on it, but that’s a seriously heavy lift. CNN offered one of these more optimistic views while ignoring the fact that nothing has been settled.
Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a past sexual assault, told Senate Judiciary Committee staff on Saturday that Ford “accepts” the request to speak to the panel next week about the alleged incident.
“Dr. Ford accepts the Committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys representing Ford, wrote in a message to the committee.
The message did not, however, agree to a specified date and time for Ford to speak to the committee and said that “many aspects” of an earlier proposal by the committee was “fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations.”
The lawyers asked in their message to “set up a time for later this afternoon to continue our negotiations.”
While I normally refrain from quoting such language here, allow me to share the immediate take from our Salem colleague Storm Paglia.
The deadline in question was not an offer to extend negotiations. We’ve already heard the answer that Ford is busy, dealing with intrusions and all the rest. She has had plenty of time to prepare for a trip to provide testimony that she requested. The meeting is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Washington, D.C. Given the way the committee has bent over backward, offering her multiple settings, including flying out to hear her testimony in California, with no need to travel, this is preposterous.
The way things have been going thus far, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Grassley wind up opening a new line of negotiations over the evening, but he shouldn’t do it. If Ms. Ford thinks she’ll have trouble getting to Washington by Monday afternoon, I assure you that we could find a donor with a private jet who will fly her. If all they want to do is stall more (which is all the Democrats want out of this dog and pony show) then there’s a far better answer that the committee chair could give.
The hearing is already scheduled. Ford needs to go first because it’s ridiculous to expect the accused to answer charges that the accuser hasn’t even made. Then both sides can be considered. But since the hearing is already scheduled, if she doesn’t show up, allow Kavanaugh to make a brief statement in his own defense and move on to the vote. And after the committee has voted, hold the floor vote on Thursday as already planned. It’s really as simple as that.