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Christine Ford Willing to Be Interviewed, With Restrictions

An attorney for the California college professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were in their teens has told Senate Judiciary staff she is open to testifying next Thursday in a public hearing assuming her safety is guaranteed, according to CNN.

Blasey Ford is also opposed to being in the same room as Kavanaugh, and does not want outside counsel for the questioning portion, although The New York Times reported Thursday that Republican members of the committee had already decided to hire one to avoid the image of 11 male senators questioning Blasey Ford.

Instead, they are seeking to enlist the help of an experienced litigator familiar with assault cases — and are seeking a woman, according to one person familiar with the search.

Ford earlier Thursday told the committee she is willing to testify next week so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to her lawyers.

“As you are aware, she has been receiving death threats, which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and she and her family have been forced out of their home,” attorney Debra Katz said in an email to the panel. “She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Blasey Ford said the incident occurred when she was 15 and a student at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Kavanaugh would have been 17 at Georgetown Preparatory School. Kavanaugh and a friend — both allegedly “stumbling drunk” at a small gathering of teens that night — corralled her into a bedroom in a house in Montgomery County, she said.

With his friend watching, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I believe her, and I think she’s very courageous for coming this far,” Ford’s adviser Ricki Seidman told Politico.

Blasey Ford Being Advised by Former Democratic Operative

Ricki Seidman, a Democratic Party operative who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations, is advising Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, according to a report in Politico.

Seidman, a senior principal at TSD Communications, also worked as an investigator for Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and as Joe Biden’s communications director during the 2008 presidential election campaign after Biden was picked as Barack Obama’s running mate. According to Politico, she was also involved with Anita Hill’s decision to testify against Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Ford on Thursday told the Senate Judiciary Committee she is willing to testify next week so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to her lawyers.

Blasey Ford said the incident occurred when she was 15 and a student at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Kavanaugh would have been 17 at Georgetown Preparatory School. Kavanaugh and a friend — both allegedly “stumbling drunk” at a small gathering of teens that night — corralled her into a bedroom in a house in Montgomery County, she said.

With his friend watching, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I believe her, and I think she’s very courageous for coming this far,” Seidman told Politico.

Google: Foreign Govt Hackers Targeted Senators, Staffers

Hackers from a foreign government have tried to access the personal email accounts of multiple senators and members of their staff, according to report Thursday.

Google confirmed to CNN that the Gmail accounts have been targeted.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote to Senate leadership Wednesday to relay the information that the attempted hacks were ongoing. A Senate aide told CNN that the illicit efforts cross party lines.

Google posted a bulletin on its company blog in March 2017 that outlined its course of action when it detects a potential hack of a user’s email at the hands of a government.

“Since 2012, we’ve warned our users if we believe their Google accounts are being targeted by government-backed attackers,” the bulletin reads. “We send these out of an abundance of caution — the notice does not necessarily mean that the account has been compromised or that there is a widespread attack. Rather, the notice reflects our assessment that a government-backed attacker has likely attempted to access the user’s account or computer through phishing or malware, for example.”

The Democratic Party claims Russian hackers stole information and emails from its servers during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Kavanaugh Letter: See You Monday to 'Clear My Name' ASAP

While his accuser’s attorneys attempt to delay Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh sent a letter saying he wants “a hearing as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name.”

“Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Monday, September 24,” Kavanaugh wrote to panel Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “I will be there. I look forward to the opportunity to testify before the committee.

“I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name. Since the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it. I remain committed to defending my integrity.”

A lawyer for the accuser, California college professor Christine Blasey Ford, told the committee earlier Thursday it is “not possible” for her to appear Monday. Lawyer Debra Katz said Ford would be prepared to testify later next week under “terms that are fair.”

The move by Ford’s lawyer sought to end a stalemate over the terms of testimony on her allegation Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party in the early 1980s when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies any attack occurred, and Republicans have appeared poised to seek a confirmation vote as early as next week if she does not testify Monday.

Grassley’s office didn’t immediately respond Thursday to queries on whether he will agree to a delay, hold the hearing Monday without Ford, or cancel it.

Democrats have demanded a delay in the hearing to allow time for the FBI to investigate Ford’s claim. President Donald Trump has said he will not ask the FBI to reopen its background probe of Kavanaugh.

Katz wrote, Ford “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” 

Ford has received death threats and has moved her family out of their home, the lawyer said. Katz said in the email it was Ford’s “strong preference” to allow a full investigation before her testimony, though the lawyer did not say whether Ford would insist on one.

Democrats in Washington sought to turn up pressure Thursday on the GOP for an FBI probe of Ford’s allegation, recommending she not testify Monday under Republicans’ current plan to hear only from her and Kavanaugh.

“She shouldn’t be bullied into it,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., at a news conference with alumna from Holton-Arms, the private girls’ school Ford attended at the time of the alleged attack more than three decades ago. “She’s not asking for extraordinary measures, she’s asking for basic fairness.”

Grassley told Democrats on the committee Wednesday he had no further patience for delays in Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.

“There has been delay and obstruction of this process at every turn and with every argument available,” Grassley wrote. “Therefore, I will view any additional complaints about the process very skeptically.”

Ford says Kavanaugh was drunk at a house party in about 1982, and he pulled her into a bedroom with classmate Mark Judge present then pinned her down on a bed, tried to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. She said she was able to escape, but The Washington Post reported she described the episode to a therapist in 2013 as a “rape attempt.”

HHS Secretary: Florence Survivors Face Years of Mental Health Challenges

Residents dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence will face mental health issues for years, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.

Azar told Fox Business that people in North and South Carolina will have to deal with hurdles that are not just physical.

“The mental health issues are the ones that we’ll be dealing with in the months and even years ahead,” Azar said. “That’s where we provide significant support to the state and local authorities there and public health providers for mental health.”

Azar added that his department will chip in with “significant grants and expertise to them to assist in providing mental healthcare services, of course deploy our health care professionals, with the FEMA emergency response teams that are there on the ground at the shelters able to provide care and counseling as we speak.”

Florence left a trail of destruction from the North Carolina coast, down into South Carolina, and across both states after it made landfall one week ago. Major flooding is plaguing many of the states’ rivers, which has resulted in towns being inundated with water as rivers swell well past their normal levels.

More than three dozen deaths have been attributed to the storm as a result of fallen trees and rising flood waters. Some parts of North Carolina, including the city of Wilmington, are cut off from other areas because of floods.

Student Pilot Boards Plane, Causes Florida Airport Lockdown

A 26-year-old student pilot boarded a vacant Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft in a maintenance facility early Thursday disrupting travel at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport, police and airport officials said.

The student drove to the curb outside the airport early Thursday, left his car running, hopped a fence and boarded the plane, airport spokeswoman Lori Booker told news outlets. A maintenance worker spotted him and police took him into custody a couple of minutes later.

Booker said officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before re-opening the airport. In addition, all employees and passengers were removed from the terminal during the incident. It caused two flight delays and interrupted airport operations for about five hours.

Police conducted a search of the man’s car with a robotic arm to make sure there were no explosives, Booker said. The car was then towed from the airport.

Police, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are involved in the investigation, according to Booker.

The man, who was born in Trinidad and entered the United States through Canada, was taken to the Brevard County Jail. His name hasn’t been released but Booker said he has a Florida driver’s license. She did not know whether he was enrolled in a local school.

The airport has returned to normal operations.

Melbourne is 70 miles southeast of Orlando.