1 of 2 | Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh agreed to take part in a public congressional hearing about allegations he sexually assaulted a high school classmate. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Senate judiciary committee on Monday scheduled a public hearing regarding allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., announced Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said there would be an opportunity for senators to hear testimony from Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a public hearing. A Senate Republican aide confirmed both Kavanaugh and Ford were willing to participate and the hearing would take place Sept. 24, delaying the vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, The New York Times reported.
"Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation. He stands ready to testify tomorrow if the Senate is ready to hear him," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said.
Kavanaugh was scheduled for a confirmation vote in the full Senate on Thursday, after being approved by the judiciary committee last week. In a Washington Post article, Ford said she and a friend were sexually assaulted by Kavanugh the 1980s, when the three were high school students in Maryland.
An attorney for Ford, told CBS News Monday that she was willing to testify before Congress about her allegations -- and expects Senate Republicans to "play hardball."
Most experts have anticipated Kavanaugh to be confirmed by the Senate, which would place Trump's second appointee on the high court bench. Democrats, though, have now called for a delay due to the new accusations.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked Grassley, the chair of the judiciary committee, to postpone the vote until "at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated."
"To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court," he said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., first informed the committee of Ford's claims after reviewing a copy of a letter sent to Ford's representative in Congress.
Two Republicans on the committee also have expressed an interest in examining the case. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the committee needs to examine the charges, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he was open to learning more.
"If Ms. Ford wishes to provide information to the committee, I would gladly listen to what she has to say and compare that against all other information we have received about Judge Kavanaugh," Graham said in a statement. "If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled."
Monday, the White House issued a statement from Kavanaugh.
"This is a completely false allegation," he said. "I have never done anything like what the accuser describes -- to her or to anyone.
"Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday," he continued.
"I am willing to talk to the Senate judiciary committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity."
Trump on Monday called a reporter's question about whether Kavanaugh would withdraw from consideration due to the allegation "ridiculous," adding he views Kavanaugh as "somebody very special" and believes he will be confirmed even if there is a delay.
"If it takes a little delay, it'll take a little delay," Trump said. "I'm sure it will work out very well."
Ford told the Post a drunken Kavanaugh and a friend, Matt Judge, forced her onto a bed during a party and attempted to undress her. She said Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. She said she escaped and didn't tell anyone about the ordeal until a therapy session in 2002.
Ford said she went public to clarify what she said were inaccuracies about the story.
"These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid," she said. "Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation."
Kavanaugh needs a simple majority in the Senate, 51 votes, to be confirmed.
Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court
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