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Kavanaugh Accuser Opens Negotiations on Testimony Next Week

WASHINGTON — The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault has told the Senate Judiciary Committee, in an apparent bid to jump-start negotiations, that she “would be prepared to testify next week,” so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to an email her lawyers sent to committee staff members.

In the email, obtained by The New York Times, the lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford said that testifying Monday — the timetable Republicans have set for a hearing — “is not possible and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.” The lawyer reiterated that it is Dr. Blasey’s “strong preference” that “a full investigation” occur before her testimony — wording that stopped short of demanding an F.B.I. probe and suggested she is open to testifying without one.

Dr. Blasey has accused Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school at a gathering of teenagers in Montgomery County, Md. Judge Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegation and has said he would be willing to testify.

[Read how Dr. Blasey went from the anonymity of academia to the center of a Supreme Court confirmation]

In the email, addressed to top Republican and Democratic aides on the committee, the lawyer, Debra Katz, wrote that she would like to set up a call later on Thursday to “discuss the conditions” under which Dr. Blasey would be prepared to testify.

“As you are aware, she has been receiving death threats, which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and she and her family have been forced out of their home,” the email said. “She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Earlier on Thursday, committee Republicans had decided to hire an outside counsel to lead their questioning of Dr. Blasey, rather than the committee members themselves, according to a Republican Senate official familiar with the decision. Although they have yet to hire someone to fill the role, the Republicans have been eager to avoid the image of 11 male senators questioning Dr. Blasey about her account.

Instead, they are seeing to enlist the help of an experienced litigator familiar with assault cases.

Democrats had been sticking to their position that an F.B.I. investigation should precede any hearing.

“Our view on the Democratic side seems to hardening and deepening that an F.B.I. investigation should be done, and I’m going to be reaching out to my Republican colleagues to set a timetable,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said in an interview before the Blasey email.

But after it came to light, he softened. Dr. Blasey, he said, has “a right to decide how and when she tells her story. So if the terms are acceptable to her, I certainly would be there.”

A spokesman for Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had no comment when asked if Mr. Grassley would agree to a date other than Monday.

“We’re glad to hear back, but that’s about the extent to which we can comment,” the spokesman, George Hartmann, said.


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