Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET
President Trump says he hopes the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her will appear at a hearing next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Speaking to reporters as he left the White House for a trip to visit flood damage in North Carolina, Trump said he “really wants to see” Christine Blasey Ford testify on Monday. “If she shows up and makes a credible showing,” Trump said, referring to Ford, “that’ll be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision.”
Trump repeated his support for Kavanaugh, calling him “such an outstanding man, it’s very hard for me to imagine anything happened.”
But he said it’s not the FBI’s job to conduct an investigation of her claims, saying, “It’s up to the Senate and I really rely on them.”
Ford’s lawyers have asked the FBI to investigate her charge — that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothes at a party when they were both teenagers more than three decades ago — before she agrees to appear at the hearing, but Republicans have refused to go along.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has offered to allow Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, to speak either in private or in public before the committee but has made it clear that her only opportunity will be Monday.
Ford’s lawyers say she has been subject to death threats as a result of her allegations against Kavanaugh.
In a letter to Ford’s attorneys released Wednesday, Grassley said “no one should be subject to that behavior.” He said the committee is investigating Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh, but that “we have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence.”
Grassley also said that Ford has to submit any testimony and her biography to the committee by Friday morning if she plans to testify.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has been seen as a key GOP swing vote on Kavanaugh, because of her support for abortion rights. She told WVOM Radio in Maine it would “not be fair to Judge Kavanaugh,” if Ford does not come forward and testify.
“Both of them need to testify under oath next Monday before the Judiciary Committee,” Collins said. “And if the professor is more comfortable that that be in a closed session where it would be videotaped and that videotape be released later that would be fine. That’s an option that the committee has given her.”
Collins, who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, contradicted Grassley, saying “if we need additional help from the FBI we could ask for it—the committee could ask for it.”
Collins said she pressed Kavanaugh on Ford’s accusation in a phone call with him last week, “and he was categorical and emphatic in his denial.”
In a tweet Wednesday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation “is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections.”