Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation odds could get a boost if his accuser refuses to testify

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  • Republicans want Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser to testify in a committee hearing scheduled for Monday.
  • Kavanaugh’s accuser, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, has not responded to committee officials seeking her testimony.
  • Republicans on the fence about supporting Kavanaugh say they would be disappointed if Ford does not testify and fully expect the committee to move on in that case.

WASHINGTON – Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are swiftly organizing a hearing for lawmakers to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers.

But while Ford has yet to accept the invite and Democrats are advocating for a completed FBI investigation before any hearing takes place, Republicans on the fence about Kavanaugh are already hinting that a no-show means the process will have to go on as planned and unlikely to nudge them toward voting against his confirmation.

When Ford went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh held her down and groped during a high school party in the early 1980s, which had been previously kept secret in a letter only viewed by a few Democratic lawmakers, a handful of Republicans requested delaying any votes on his confirmation. They demanded to hear from both sides in an under-oath setting.

After hours debating amongst themselves, top Republican brass decided to host another hearing slated for Monday. But Senate Democrats are not complying with Republicans wanting to conduct follow-up calls with the parties involved in the burgeoning scandal. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has demanded that the FBI conclude their own investigation into the allegations, despite the fact that appears to not be happening.

To make things more complicated, Ford and her attorney have not responded to inquiries from Republicans on the committee. That is where things get into a bind for Democrats who might have been looking to court GOP senators on the fence about supporting Kavanaugh.

“I would hope that if someone is given the opportunity to voice a concern that they have that they would do so,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker told reporters on Tuesday. “So that would be quite something if she decided she did not want to testify and I would assume the committee would then move on as they should.”

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who like Corker is retiring at the end of the year, told CNN he would back Republicans moving forward with the confirmation if Ford does not talk to the committee in an official capacity.

And both Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska expressed concern that Ford might not show. Murkowski said it would be a “a very interesting and unfortunate turn of events.”

Trump says Kavanaugh is eager to tell his side of the story

Democrats have felt a lot more confident in recent days that Kavanaugh’s nomination could be toast, but that newfound optimism might evaporate if Ford decides not to attend the hearing.

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, has been adamant about pleading his case, according to President Donald Trump.

“We will delay the process until it’s finished out. I guess we’ve invited everybody,” Trump said during a joint press conference with the President of Poland on Tuesday. “I know – I can tell you this – that Judge Kavanaugh is anxious to do it. I don’t know about the other party, but Judge Kavanaugh is very anxious to do it.”

Trump also said that he has not spoken to Kavanaugh since the allegations surfaced.

While the GOP’s chances of confirming Kavanaugh once appeared to be fading, they might gain new ground. And unlike past cases where prominent figures have been under fire for sexual misconduct allegations, like in the case of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, many Republicans are not jumping ship.

The party is overwhelmingly standing by Kavanaugh.