The woman who has accused president Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault decades ago wants her allegations to be investigated by the FBI before she appears at a US Senate hearing, one of her lawyers said on Tuesday.
Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor in California, has accused Mr Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982 when they were both high school students, allegations that he has called “completely false.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing the nomination, had called a hearing for September 24 to look into the allegations.
“Nothing of substance and nothing legitimate can happen by Monday,” Lisa Banks, an attorney for Ms Ford, told CNN.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump showered sympathy on his embattled Supreme Court nominee, as Senate Republicans and Democrats fought determinedly over who should testify at a high-stakes hearing on the allegation just six weeks before major congressional elections.
“I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this, to be honest with you,” Mr Trump told a news conference. “This is not a man that deserves this.”
“Hopefully the woman will come forward, state her case. He will state his case before representatives of the United States Senate. And then they will vote,” the president added.
Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, appeared to cast doubt on Ms Ford’s allegations.
“We just don’t know what happened 36 years ago and there are gaps in her memory. She doesn’t know how she got there, when it was, and so that would logically be something where she would get questions,” Mr Cornyn told reporters.
Mr Cornyn’s fellow Republicans have generally avoided criticising Ms Ford, instead castigating Democrats for not revealing her allegations earlier.
The confirmation fight comes just weeks before the November 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress from Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans, which could be a major blow to his agenda.
Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, urged Republicans not to “rush the hearings”.
However, Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican on the committee but one from the anti-Trump wing of the party, said the panel would vote on Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination next week whether or not Ms Ford testified.
“If she does not want to come Monday, publicly or privately, we’re going to move on and vote Wednesday,” he told Fox News Channel.