US Supreme Court nominee and accuser agree to testify on Thursday

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Lawyers for a woman who accuses US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault have reached agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee for a public hearing on Thursday.

Christine Blasey Ford committed to an “open” hearing after negotiations on Sunday, her lawyers said.

A spokesman for the committee’s chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, confirmed the meeting would be set for 10am on Thursday.

Supreme Court Kavanaugh
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Terms of their appearances are still being negotiated, but several details have been resolved.

Dr Ford agreed that she will testify after Mr Kavanaugh, rather than going first, as she had preferred, according to a source familiar with the talks.

But who will be asking the questions remains unresolved, the lawyers said.

Republicans have been trying to hire an outside female counsel who could take over the questioning.

The 11 senators on the Republican side are all men, which could send an unwanted message on live television against the backdrop of the #MeToo era so close to the mid-term election. They could also use staff attorneys to the Republican majority on the committee.

“We were told no decision has been made on this important issue, even though various senators have been dismissive of her account and should have to shoulder their responsibility to ask her questions,” the attorneys said.

A final accord could bring to a close days of brinkmanship that have hit Washington ahead of mid-term elections and threatened to jeopardise Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court, even as some Republicans say the additional hearings may do little to change their support for him.

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