A US Senate committee on Saturday postponed its hearing on sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is the presidential nominee for the Supreme Court.
Senator Chuck Grassley, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that both Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford had been invited for the hearing, scheduled to take place on Monday. While Kavanaugh had agreed to testify, Ford declined, he said.
Grassley asked Ford to respond to the request by 10 pm Saturday in the absence of which, he said, the Senate Judiciary Committee would vote on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.
"I'm extending the deadline for response yet again to 10 o'clock this evening. I'm providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr Ford's attorneys don't respond or Dr Ford decides not to testify," Grassley said.
"In the event that we can come to a reasonable resolution as I've been seeking all week, then I will postpone the committee vote to accommodate her testimony. We cannot continue to delay," the top Republican Senator said in a statement.
Soon, thereafter, he issued a notice of a committee executive business meeting, at which the committee can vote on the nomination of Judge Brett M Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Earlier, all 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urged Grassley to learn from mistakes made during the Anita Hill hearings and outlined steps the committee should take to ensure a thorough investigation of Ford's allegations and fair hearing.
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a letter to lawyers of Ford, said it has been "extremely accommodating" to her. "We want to hear Dr Ford's testimony and are prepared to accommodate many of your demands, including further delaying a hearing that is currently scheduled for Monday.
We are unwilling to accommodate your unreasonable demands. Outside counsel may not dictate the terms under which Committee business will be conducted," the letter said.
The committee said it is not able to accommodate Ford's demand that Kavanaugh testify first. "You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh be the first person to testify. Accommodating this demand would be an affront to fundamental notions of due process. In the United States, an individual accused of a crime is entitled to a presumption of innocence," the committee said.
"And, further, the accused has the right to respond to allegations that are made about him. Judge Kavanaugh cannot be expected to respond to allegations that have been made to the press. He is entitled to hear the full, detailed testimony of Dr Ford before he testifies," the letter said.
President Donald Trump continues to support the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. He has questioned the motives of the Democrats in raising this issue.