Accuser of US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to testify next week

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Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a past sexual assault, told Senate Judiciary Committee staff on Saturday that Ford "accepts" the request to speak to the panel next week about the alleged incident.

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford said she accepted the Senate Judiciary Committee's request to appear before them to be questioned on the alleged attack at a party in 1982.

The committee had given Ford, a California professor, until 2:30pm (1830 GMT) Saturday to decide on whether to appear, after she rejected a Friday evening deadline imposed by the committee's Republican leader, Chuck Grassley.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to direct the FBI to investigate sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In a statement on Sunday, Ford's lawyers Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich said their client "has agreed to move forward" with a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill. Previously, Ford demanded that Kavanaugh defend himself first before she testifies.

That's because the Iowa Republican's tweet read like a direct message to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The deal sets up a final showdown in the bitter fight over President Donald Trump's second high court pick.

While the women in the interview say they believe Kavanaugh's denial, they also say this sounds like normal teenager behavior and should not derail his confirmation. "You know, when you take a look at this in honest terms, I believe that not only Judge Kavanaugh, but certainly Dr. Ford deserves a fair hearing".

Then Sen. Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News on Sunday that "unless there is something more, no, I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this".

Mr Grassley turned down Ms Ford's request that only senators, not lawyers, be allowed to ask questions.

Earlier, Trump ended a week of constraint and sarcastically assailed Ford, tweeting that if the episode was "as bad as she says", she or "her loving parents" surely would have reported it to law enforcement.

The gloves came off later in the week after Trump cast doubt on her account in a Twitter post and Republican senators began expressing impatience with the conditions her lawyers sought before she testified in public.

But Kavanaugh's team also cautioned that the calendar items do not disprove Ford's accusations, saying he could have failed to list a party he attended.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had requested that Ford respond to his invitation to testify before the Senate by Saturday afternoon.

It was also not clear in which order Ford and Kavanaugh will testify.

And a temporary communications adviser to Grassley during the Supreme Court confirmation fight has abruptly resigned after an accusation of sexual harassment - an allegation he denies. "I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

"If this process to secure her testimony falls apart, the fault is totally and clearly on the Republican leadership", Sen.