Sen. Grassley focusing on making Kavanaugh accuser 'comfortable' to speak with his committee

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Official photo.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that he is focused on "doing everything" to make Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in the 1980s, comfortable with appearing before the committee.

"We are doing everything that we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable to coming before the committee in an open session or a closed session, or a public or a private interviews," he told reporters. "That's four different ways she can chose to come. So I'm not worried about anything other than just focusing for the next few days on encouraging her to come."

Ford is the author of a private letter sent to the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, alleging that, at a party during their high school years, Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom, tried to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford has asked for the FBI to investigate the allegations she's made before testifying for the committee, a request Grassley's previous statement indicated he did not plan to oblige.

"Dr. Ford's testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events," Grassley said in a statement Tuesday. "Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay."

Kavanaugh has said in a statement that he "unequivocally" denies the accusation.

Grassley told reporters Wednesday he's working on planning this hearing the rest of the week.

"I'm going to concentrate in the next three days, today, Thursday and Friday, as long as I can," he said. "We've got to have time to plan for a hearing and it's going to come off -- there's a certain time we have to notify people that there is going to be a hearing."

When asked if he would go ahead with this hearing without Ford, Grassley responded: "We don't have any problem with Kavanaugh coming ... but we want to make sure it is a fruitful hearing for both sides."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said asking for an FBI investigation is trying to delay the process of confirming Kavanaugh.

"Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process until after the midterm elections," he said in a statement. "It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken as soon as possible."

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who also sits on the committee, told CNN earlier Wednesday he would like to hear from Ford.

"I think there is a reasonable possibility that she will appear on Monday, and I hope she does. If she does appear, I will get together with my colleagues," he said in an interview Wednesday. "I don't know a single senator, by the way, or a single reporter who has talked to Dr. Ford. I would like to talk to her. I have talked to Judge Brett Kavanaugh yesterday. But I don't have enough information to say we ought to go forward."

By Daniella Diaz, Manu Raju and Sunlen Serfaty, CNN. The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

The Gayly – September 19, 2018 @ 11:20 a.m. CDT.