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The Latest: Flake pans Trump Jr.’s post mocking allegation

September 19, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accuses him of sexually assaulting her decades ago (all times local):

5:35 p.m.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is criticizing an Instagram post from President Donald Trump’s eldest son that mocked the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Donald Trump Jr.’s post earlier this week shows a crumpled piece of notebook paper with a scribbled message: “Hi Cindy will you be my girlfriend, Love Bret.” It has boxes to check for “yes” or “no.”

It’s captioned: “Judge Kavanaugh sexual assault letter found by Dems...”

Trump Jr. wrote: “Oh boy.... the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have him on the ropes now.”

Flake posted the photo on Twitter and wrote: “This is sickening. No one should make light of this situation.”

Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party more than 30 years ago. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

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3:35 p.m.

A Democratic senator who is undecided on whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh says the process for handling Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against the Supreme Court nominee has “gone off the rails.”

Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama said Wednesday that “it’s unreasonable” for the Senate Judiciary Committee to “force her hand without doing the appropriate investigation.”

Kavanaugh denies Ford’s accusation that he assaulted her decades ago when they were teens. Both Kavanaugh and Ford were called to testify before the committee on Monday, but Ford says she wants an FBI investigation first.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa says an FBI investigation isn’t needed. He says the committee’s investigation of Ford’s claim is sufficient.

But Jones says the FBI is well-equipped to conduct a quick investigation and interview potential witnesses.

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1:45 p.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is offering in a letter to lawyers for Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser to have his panel’s investigators interview her wherever she wants.

That includes having aides interview Christine Blasey Ford in California, where she lives, according to a person speaking anonymously because they weren’t authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

Chairman Chuck Grassley is also setting deadlines. His letter to Ford’s lawyers says his committee’s hearing on her allegations of sexual abuse will begin Monday morning. He says if she intends to testify, she must submit written testimony by Friday morning.

Ford has said she wants the FBI to investigate her accusation before she would testify.

Grassley writes that his panel “cannot commandeer an Executive Branch agency” and ask them to do more work.

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12:10 p.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley says the FBI does not need to look into the sexual-assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because Republicans are conducting their own investigation.

California college professor Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her claim Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers, something Kavanaugh denies. Ford says the investigation should happen before a Monday hearing at which she and Kavanaugh are invited to testify.

Grassley rejected that idea Wednesday. The Iowa senator says “no other outside investigation is necessary.”

President Donald Trump also has refused to get the FBI involved.

Republican staffers on the Judiciary panel have interviewed Kavanaugh and sought an interview with Ford. Grassley didn’t provide further details on their investigation.

Committee Democrats have not participated and want FBI involvement.

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10:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says “we’ll have to make a decision” if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual-assault accuser “makes a credible showing” before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He said Wednesday it would be “very interesting.”

Trump calls Kavanaugh an “outstanding man” and says it’s “very hard” for him to imagine anything happened.

The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Monday and has invited Kavanaugh and California college professor Christine Blasey Ford to testify regarding her allegation against him.

Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh assaulted her decades ago when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation and has said he’s willing to appear before the committee.

Ford’s attorneys say she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies.

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8:50 a.m.

Hillary Clinton says the White House should request an FBI investigation of the sexual-assault accusation facing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and any refusal to do so by Republicans amounts to rushing to confirm him.

The former Democratic presidential nominee said on MSNBC on Tuesday the relevant precedent is the FBI’s investigation of Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegation against Clarence Thomas in 1991. Like Kavanaugh, Thomas strongly denied the accusation against him.

Under Republican President George H.W. Bush, the White House asked the FBI add to Thomas’ background check. President Donald Trump has refused to do so regarding California college professor Christine Blasey Ford’s charge against Kavanaugh.

Clinton says that makes it difficult to “avoid the appearance of insult” against Ford. Clinton says she thinks Republicans are trying to put Ford “in the dock and try to rush this through.”

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7:50 a.m.

Anita Hill says the Senate Judiciary Committee could be holding a “sham” hearing next week without an FBI investigation of a woman’s sexual-assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh strongly denies the allegation and has suggested California college professor Christine Blasey Ford’s account could be a case of mistaken identity.

But Hill told ABC she supports Ford’s demand for an FBI investigation before a hearing Senate Republicans have set for Monday. Hill questions whether the Senate hearing “is going to be anything more than just a sham proceeding.”

Hill’s allegation Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her — and the committee’s handling of his confirmation hearings — haunts Washington as a key event that alienated many women. Thomas denied Hill’s account and was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

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12:20 a.m.

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford say that before she testifies on Capitol Hill next week she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

But the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, says an FBI investigation wouldn’t have any bearing on Ford’s testimony so “there is no reason for further delay.” Other Republicans are suggesting that Ford will have only this one opportunity to testify.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump showered sympathy on Kavanaugh. The president too has rejected the idea of bringing in the FBI to reopen its background check of the appeals court judge.

Ford’s lawyers say she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since coming forward with her story.

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