White House opens door to new hearings with Kavanaugh, accuser

A top aide to President Donald Trump on Monday raised the possibility of further Senate hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, as Democrats demanded that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford be allowed to tell her story, in which she accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct at a party in the early 1980's, a charge he vehemently denied in a new statement issued on Monday morning.

"This woman should not be insulted, and she should not be ignored," Conway said this morning on the Fox News program Fox and Friends, and then repeated the same to a gaggle of reporters on the driveway outside the White House.

"Allowing this woman to be heard in sworn testimony, allowing Judge Kavanaugh to be heard in sworn testimony," Conway said that would acceptable, maybe as soon as this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

That panel has a vote currently set for Thursday afternoon on the Kavanaugh nomination.

"So, let me make very clear - I've spoken with the President, I've spoken with Senator (Lindsey) Graham and others - this woman will be heard," Conway said.

Through the White House, Kavanaugh meanwhile issued a fresh denial of the charges leveled by Ford.

"This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone," Kavanaugh said in a new statement issued Monday morning.

"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," Kavanaugh added.

As Conway was raising the possibility of additional hearings - or at least a meeting with Senators - the lawyer for Ford told CNN that her client was prepared to testify in public.

After making charges anonymously against Kavanaugh in recent months, Ford's story became public late last week - but by Sunday, she put her name to it in an on-the-record interview with the Washington Post, accusing Kavanaugh of attacking and groping her at a party of drunken teenagers.

At the time, Ford was a student at the prestigious Holton-Arms school for girls in suburban Washington; Kavanaugh was at the equally well-regarded Georgetown Prep private school.

Some GOP Senators said they would be open to hearing from Ford, but it wasn't clear whether that would be in a public setting.

Back in 1991, when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, the Senate Judiciary Committee reconvened two weeks after sending the Thomas nomination to the Senate floor, and heard dramatic testimony from both the judge, and his accuser Anita Hill.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate were urging a delay in the committee vote scheduled for this Thursday.

"There are serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh's record, truthfulness, and character," Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter, demanding that they be 'thoroughly evaluated and answered.'

"I’m urging Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to delay a vote on Judge Kavanaugh," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). "Congress cannot take these new allegations lightly."

Democrats also received the support of a key swing vote, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said in a tweet that both the judge and his accuser should go before the Judiciary Committee.

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