WASHINGTON — Republicans abruptly laid plans Monday for a Senate committee hearing at which Brett Kavanaugh and the woman alleging he sexually assaulted her decades ago will testify publicly, as GOP leaders grudgingly opted for a dramatic showdown they hoped would prevent the accusation from sinking his Supreme Court nomination.
Just hours after GOP leaders signaled their preference for private, staff telephone interviews of Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said his panel would hold a hearing next Monday with both of them. Republican aides spoke by phone Monday with Kavanaugh and tried reaching Ford, Grassley said, but Democrats refused to participate in that process.
“To provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing,” Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a written statement.
Earlier, GOP leaders had shown no interest in a theatrical spectacle that would thrust Kavanaugh and Ford before television cameras with each offering public — and no doubt conflicting — versions of what they say did or didn’t happen at a party in the early 1980s. With the #MeToo movement galvanizing liberal and female voters and already costing prominent men their jobs in government, journalism and entertainment, a hearing would be a politically jarring prelude to the November elections for control of Congress.