In tweet, Trump shows he doubts accuser’s story

Says if the attack was as bad as Ford says, she would have reported it to the authorities when it happened more than 30 years ago

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump, changing course after days of unusual restraint, lashed out on Friday at the woman who accused Judge Brett M Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, saying that if the attack “was as bad as she says,” she or her parents would have reported it to the authorities when it happened more than 30 years ago.

Trump’s comment on Twitter was his first direct attack on Christine Blasey Ford, the research psychologist in Northern California who levelled the accusation against Kavanaugh, the president’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, just as his confirmation appeared secure. The outburst came as lawyers for Blasey and top Senate Judiciary Committee aides struggled to reach an agreement that would lead to her testimony next week before the committee.

Those talks continued late into Friday night, appearing to break down at one point, but are now expected to resume Saturday. Senator Charles E Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter shortly before midnight that he had granted lawyers for Blasey — who sometimes goes by her married name, Ford — another day to negotiate.

Grassley’s tweet, which he directed to Kavanaugh, saying, “I hope u understand,” came after a tense back-and-forth between the two sides. First, Grassley announced that the judiciary panel would vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Monday morning unless negotiators reached an agreement by 10pm. Friday.

Blasey’s lawyer, Debra Katz, responded with a blistering email, accusing Grassley’s aides of pressuring her client “to agree to conditions you find advantageous to the nominee,” and of imposing “aggressive and artificial deadlines” whose “sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family.”

Earlier Friday, their legal tango riveted Washington as the two sides tried to work out details like how many photographers and television cameras would be in the room (Blasey, fearful of being mobbed, wanted one of each), who would ask the questions (Republicans wanted an outside lawyer; Blasey favoured senators) and what day the session would take place (Blasey asked for Thursday; Republicans wanted Wednesday).

In his tweet, Trump called on Blasey to produce law enforcement reports “so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

Blasey, who was around 15 at the time of the incident, has said that she did not report it to the authorities and that she does not recall exactly when it took place. Experts say many women are reluctant to report sexual assaults, in part because they fear they will not be believed.

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