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Christine Blasey Ford Is Open To Testifying About Sexual Assault Allegations

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

No one is really sure what's going to happen next week when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, says Monday is too soon for her to testify before a Senate committee, although now her lawyer says she may be willing to appear a few days later under conditions that are, quote, "fair and ensure her safety". President Trump again threw his support behind his Supreme Court nominee at a rally in Las Vegas last night. And the crowd responded in kind.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh...

MARTIN: And here's what the president said in an interview with Fox News before the rally.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Why didn't somebody call the FBI 36 years ago? I mean, you could also say, when did this all happen? What's going on? To take a man like this and besmirch - now, with that being said, let her have her say. And let's see how it all works out. But I don't think you can delay it any longer. They've delayed it a week already.

MARTIN: Now this morning, in a tweet, the president is questioning Ford's accusations and her credibility. He says if the, quote, "attack" was as bad as Ford said it was, charges would have been filed back when it happened in the '80s. Scott Jennings is with us now from Louisville, Ky. He is a Republican political strategist who worked in the Bush White House. Thanks so much for being with us, Scott.

SCOTT JENNINGS: Of course. Thank you.

MARTIN: You argue that there does not need to be an FBI investigation into professor Ford's allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Why?

JENNINGS: Well, I don't think the FBI is going to find anything out that the committee cannot find out. The committee's tried to conduct an investigation. Kavanaugh has come in and given a sworn statement. They've tried to reach out to the witnesses. This is a 36-year-old event with no digital footprints, no physical evidence. We don't know the exact place or time. I think the committee ought to be allowed to do its job.

MARTIN: Although there is precedent for this. The president you worked for, George W. Bush, actually instructed the FBI to look into the allegations Anita Hill waged against then-nominee Clarence Thomas. So we know the FBI is capable of doing this kind of difficult examination.

JENNINGS: I would say it's beyond difficult. And I would also say that the FBI, let's not forget, has investigated Brett Kavanaugh six times on background checks. I've been through one before. I can tell you they call people you forgot you ever met. The fact that he's been through this six times, and it's never turned up, and no similar incidents have ever turned up carry a lot of weight with me.

MARTIN: Although, you know, we know that the reason that this came to the fore was because - when it did was because the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was requesting anonymity. And then it was leaked. And then the Democrats brought it into the mix. What is the rush? If the desire is on the part of Democrats and Republicans - have said they want the information, why not just delay the hearings in order to allow the FBI to investigate?

JENNINGS: Well, look. This whole thing is about delay. You brought up the right word. the reporting. The Republicans, within 24 hours of meeting or hearing Christine Ford's name, tried to get her on the record under some options that I thought were very reasonable. They could've even interviewed her in private, they offered. They wouldn't take them. Everything about what the Democrats have done tell me this is nothing but a delay game - from the fact that Feinstein sat on the letter for two months to the fact that they've asked for not one but two delayed hearings - it strikes me what they want to do is push this past the election, hopefully win the election and then hold this thing open for two years. I don't really think they care about Dr. Ford's story. I think they care about deceit and delaying it and holding it open.

MARTIN: Although, I mean, Democrats would argue that Republicans did the same thing with Merrick Garland.

JENNINGS: Of course. And this is all about revenge for Merrick Garland. I mean, if everybody would just be honest here, it'd be a whole lot better world, wouldn't it, Rachel? I mean, the reality is they want revenge for Merrick Garland. And they're trying to get it. And they're using Dr. Ford and her story to get it. And I don't think the...

MARTIN: By that same token, are you suggesting that Republicans are pushing this through without an FBI investigation because they want to get the confirmation before elections, where the House and perhaps the Senate could change hands?

JENNINGS: Well, let's be clear. To say that Republicans don't want an FBI investigation doesn't mean they don't want her testimony. And it doesn't mean they aren't trying to investigate this matter because I think they are earnestly trying to get her on the record. But yes. The politics of this are clear. If the Democrats win the Senate, this thing will sit open for two years, and Republicans will not have a chance to fill it. So the raw politics here are actually very simple and very clear. This confirmation will be held open if the Democrats win the Senate. The Republicans think Kavanaugh has been unfairly attacked here, although they do want to respect Dr. Ford's story. But there is - this has politics written all over it on both sides. And Republicans, I think, would be well within bounds to move this process forward if they cannot come to an agreement on Ford's testimony.

MARTIN: Scott Jennings, Republican political strategist, thanks so much.

JENNINGS: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.