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Republicans turn up pressure on Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford to testify

Kevin Breuninger
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Wednesday told Christine Blasey Ford that she must send him documents by the end of the week in order to testify Monday about her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley , R-Iowa, on Wednesday told Christine Blasey Ford that she must send him documents by the end of the week in order to testify Monday against President Donald Trump 's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh .

The deadline, in which Ford, 51, must submit her written testimony and biography by Friday at 10 a.m., tightens the screws on Ford to testify in a public Senate hearing under oath about her allegation that Kavanaugh, 53, sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.

In a letter to Ford's lawyers, first reported by NBC News on Wednesday, Grassley said that if Ford "intends to testify on Monday," she must submit her documents in accordance "with Committee rules."

Ford, through her lawyers, called for an FBI investigation into her allegation prior to a public hearing. Other Democrats on the committee have made the same request, which would likely slow Kavanaugh's nomination proceedings to a crawl — a situation Republicans are eager to avoid, as the November midterm elections loom large.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied Ford's allegation, saying he would be willing to testify once again before the Judiciary Committee.

Grassley had originally said he would try to set up phone calls to question both Ford and Kavanaugh, but said California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein 's office refused to cooperate. He has since relented on that request and scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. on Monday.

Ford wrote a letter detailing her allegation that was received by Feinstein in late July, but it was not publicly reported until mid-September. That letter alleges a very drunk Kavanaugh, with participation from his friend Mark Judge, held Ford down on a bed, covered her mouth to stifle her screams and attempted to take her clothes off.

Judge has said he has no recollection of the incident Ford described.

Sen. Susan Collins , R-Maine, said Wednesday that "both of them need to testify under oath next Monday."

"I think it's not fair to Judge Kavanaugh for her not to come forward and testify," she added.

Collins, who is widely viewed as a crucial swing vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, was among the first GOP senators to call for a public hearing.

Grassley's letter Wednesday also appeared to place the onus for an FBI probe on the president's shoulders.

"We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence," the letter said.

But Trump, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said "really, it's up to the Senate. I really rely on them."

When told by a reporter that the FBI would investigate if he asked them to, Trump said, "I would let the senators take their course."

Ford's identity was first revealed in a Washington Post report published Sunday. Democrats in Congress have called to delay proceedings pending a more thorough investigation, which would include a hearing with more witnesses and expert testimony.

Grassley has said there is no need to delay the hearing or hear from more than the two key figures in the allegation. His committee already canceled a vote scheduled for Thursday that would have advanced Kavanaugh's nomination .

Trump also gave his sympathies for Kavanaugh and his family Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on the way to visit hurricane-damaged areas of North Carolina , Trump cast doubt on Ford's allegations in light of Kavanaugh's "outstanding" character.

"Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened," Trump said.

Kavanaugh is Trump's second pick to join the nine-member bench of the Supreme Court. His first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch , was appointed in April 2017.