U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 35 mins

Doubts arise over whether Trump court nominee's accuser will testify

By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan

By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A woman who has accused President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault decades ago has not yet agreed to testify at a U.S. Senate hearing set for next Monday, raising questions about whether the high-stakes public showdown will take place.

Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor in California whose allegations have put Kavanaugh's once-safe nomination in jeopardy, has not responded to attempts by the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee to contact her about appearing at the hearing, committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday.

Trump stepped up his defense of Kavanaugh and expressed sympathy toward his nominee, who met with officials at the White House for a second straight day though not with the president.

"I feel so badly for him that he's going through this, to be honest with you," Trump told a news conference. "... This is not a man that deserves this."

"Hopefully the woman will come forward, state her case. He will state his case before representatives of the United States Senate. And then they will vote," Trump added.

The hearing represents a potential make-or-break moment for the conservative federal appeals court judge's confirmation chances for the lifetime post on the top U.S. court, as Trump pursues his goal of moving the federal judiciary to the right.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of trying to attack her and remove her clothing while he was drunk in 1982 in a Maryland suburb outside Washington when they were students at different high schools. Kavanaugh has called the allegation "completely false."

Republicans control the Senate by only a narrow margin, meaning any defections within the party could sink the nomination and deal a major setback to Trump.

Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, appeared to cast doubt on Ford's allegations.

"We just don't know what happened 36 years ago and there are gaps in her memory. She doesn't know how she got there, when it was, and so that would logically be something where she would get questions," Cornyn told reporters.

Cornyn's fellow Republicans have generally avoided criticizing Ford, instead castigating Democrats for not revealing her allegations earlier.

The confirmation fight comes just weeks before the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress from Trump's fellow Republicans, which could be a major blow to his agenda.

Grassley, whose committee oversees the confirmation process, initially said the planned hearing would be public but other Republicans indicated it could be held privately if Ford requests that.

Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, urged Republicans not to "rush the hearings."

Democrats, already fiercely opposed to the nominee, wrote a letter to Grassley objecting to the planned format of the hearing, which was announced on Monday, including having just Kavanaugh and Ford as witnesses.

'DESERVES TO BE HEARD'

"We have reached out to her in the last 36 hours, three or four times by email, and we've not heard from them. So it kind of raises the question ... do they want to come to (the) public hearing or not?" Grassley said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

"I want to hear from Dr. Ford," Grassley said. "And she deserves to be heard because these are serious accusations. And I would surely hope she'd come Monday."

Ford detailed her allegation in a letter sent in July to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat. The letter's contents leaked last week and Ford identified herself in an interview with the Washington Post published on Sunday that included details about the alleged assault.

Debra Katz, a lawyer representing Ford, said in television interviews on Monday that the professor would be willing to testify and called the alleged incident "attempted rape." Katz did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Democrats have so far also refused to cooperate with the committee's Republican leadership. They have asked that the FBI conduct an investigation, a request that Republicans have rebuffed. Trump and other Republicans said they do not think the FBI needs to be involved.

Feinstein said there should be more than just two witnesses, possibly to include people who Ford previously confided in. The committee's Democrats said witnesses should include Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge, who Ford has said witnessed the alleged incident.

A lawyer representing Judge sent a letter to Grassley saying Judge does not want to speak publicly about the matter.

"In fact, I have no memory of this alleged incident. Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford's letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes," the letter quoted Judge as saying.

Judge is the author of a 1997 memoir titled "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk," which recounts his experiences as a teenage alcoholic.

One Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal, said Kavanaugh should withdraw his nomination.

"I believe Dr. Ford. I believe the survivor here," Blumenthal said. "... She has come forward courageously and bravely, knowing she would face a nightmare of possible and vicious scrutiny."

Republican staffers quizzed Kavanaugh about the allegations on a call on Monday evening in which the Democrats refused to participate. Committee spokesman Taylor Foy said other witnesses would be questioned ahead of the hearing.

The showdown has echoes of current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' contentious confirmation hearings in 1991 involving sexual harassment allegations lodged against him by a law professor named Anita Hill. Thomas, the court's second black justice, was ultimately confirmed, but only after a nasty televised hearing in which Hill faced pointed questions from Republican senators and the nominee said he was the victim of "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."

Grassley offered his assurance that Ford would be treated respectfully and not badgered during the hearing. All 11 Republicans on the committee are men. Four of the Democrats are women.

Trump picked Kavanaugh in July to replace retired conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Steve Holland, Andrew Chung and Amanda Becker; Editing by Will Dunham)

  • 7 Stocks to Buy and Hold Through Any Market Selloff
    Business
    InvestorPlace

    7 Stocks to Buy and Hold Through Any Market Selloff

    Last week’s market collapse made headlines throughout the world. Since the sharp correction has negatively impacted virtually all investment sectors, you’re going to find discounted deals everywhere you look.

  • Piers Morgan Mocked Daniel Craig For the Way He Carries His Child and Dads Are Clapping Back
    News
    Time

    Piers Morgan Mocked Daniel Craig For the Way He Carries His Child and Dads Are Clapping Back

    Piers Morgan the British TV personality, saw a photo of Daniel Craig carrying his infant daughter—and decided to mock him. His tweet featured a photo of the James Bond star carrying his baby in a baby carrier and included the hashtag #emasculatedBond

  • Netflix user growth beats expectations, shares spike
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Netflix user growth beats expectations, shares spike

    Netflix (NFLX) reported user growth that exceeded Wall Street expectations, underscoring a recovery for the online streamer following a rare miss in new user additions last quarter.The Los Gatos, California-based company brought on 6.96 million total new streamers, beating its own guidance of 5 million total member additions for the quarter. The company issued guidance that it would add 9.4 million new members in the fourth quarter of 2018. Netflix’s stock rose 13% in late trading Tuesday.

  • Boeing delivers first 737 Max 8 BBJ and unveils Max 7 luxury interior (Photos)
    Business
    American City Business Journals

    Boeing delivers first 737 Max 8 BBJ and unveils Max 7 luxury interior (Photos)

    Boeing has delivered its very first 737 Max 8 business jet to a paying customer. It's the first of 20 BBJ Max jets that buyers from around the world have ordered from the Chicago-based jetmaker since they went on sale. Boeing spokesman Dmitry Krol declined to identify the buyer of the jet, which is the second of its kind made at Boeing's Renton 737 factory.

  • Marijuana Stocks to Watch in October -- and Into 2019
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Marijuana Stocks to Watch in October -- and Into 2019

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 17, Canada will become the first industrialized county in the world where marijuana is legal for adult recreational use -- and only the second country, along with Uruguay, where such use is legal.  Not only does this open up

  • These are the bad things about early retirement that no one talks about
    News
    MarketWatch

    These are the bad things about early retirement that no one talks about

    For all the glamour of living an early retirement lifestyle, there are plenty of negatives I’ve come to discover since I permanently left my job in 2012. As a result, you’re repeatedly forced to will yourself into action.

  • Jamal Khashoggi was accidentally killed during interrogation: report
    World
    Fox Business Videos

    Jamal Khashoggi was accidentally killed during interrogation: report

    Fox Business foreign policy analyst Walid Phares on the report that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was accidentally killed.

  • Brits Are All Making the Same Joke About the New Royal Baby
    News
    Time

    Brits Are All Making the Same Joke About the New Royal Baby

    Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is expecting her first child with Prince Harry. The news, announced Monday morning by Kensington Palace, has already been greeted by hundreds of messages of congratulations for the royal couple on social media. The U.K. is set to leave the European Union on March 29, exactly two years after Prime Minister Theresa May started the formal process for doing so by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

  • Sears soars 36% — one day after filing for bankruptcy (SHLD)
    Finance
    Business Insider

    Sears soars 36% — one day after filing for bankruptcy (SHLD)

    The retailer received approval on Tuesday to access a $300 million loan to keep it afloat during bankruptcy. Sears Holdings soared as much as 124% — one day after filing for bankruptcy — as the embattled retailer received approval to access a $300 million loan to keep it afloat during bankruptcy.

  • Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?

    At one time, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) floated under the radar in the technology sector. Its graphics processing units (GPUs) were then niche tech products that appealed mainly to graphic artists and hardcore PC gamers, but that all changed over the last

  • Why MannKind Corp. Soared 16.4% Tuesday
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why MannKind Corp. Soared 16.4% Tuesday

    After MannKind Corp. (NASDAQ: MNKD) announced that it closed on its planned collaboration agreement with United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR), its shares rallied 16.4% on Tuesday. MannKind only has one Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug to its name, Afrezza, an inhalable insulin. Afrezza was launched in 2015 and sales have been far shy of optimistic pre-launch forecasts.

  • 3 Stocks for Warren Buffett Fans
    Business
    Motley Fool

    3 Stocks for Warren Buffett Fans

    Warren Buffett has no shortage of acolytes, and it's easy to see why. The Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) chief and founder has made thousands of early investors in his conglomerate rich as the parent of businesses like GEICO car insurance and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad has posted average annual returns of 20% over the last 50 years, crushing the market. Buffett has never gotten too big for his britches, however.

  • Lam Research (LRCX) Q1 Earnings and Revenues Surpass Estimates
    Business
    Zacks

    Lam Research (LRCX) Q1 Earnings and Revenues Surpass Estimates

    Lam Research (LRCX) came out with quarterly earnings of $3.36 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.21 per share. This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of 4.67%. Lam Research, which belongs to the Zacks Semiconductor Equipment - Wafer Fabrication industry, posted revenues of $2.33 billion for the quarter ended September 2018, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.16%.

  • Walmart is aggressively shifting away from its most legendary shopping format
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Walmart is aggressively shifting away from its most legendary shopping format

    Walmart (WMT) continues to kill off the American shopping creation it’s most known for, the massive supercenter that sells everything under one roof. With the U.S. market already having more than 3,500 Walmart supercenters and a focus by CEO Doug McMillon to increase spending on eCommerce and India, Walmart said Tuesday it will open a mere 10 supercenters in 2019. The company has reduced emphasis on the store format pioneered by founder Sam Walton – which could average a gargantuan 178,000 square feet – in recent years.

  • Cramer: 'Cannabis might be the most disruptive force sinc...
    Business
    CNBC Videos

    Cramer: 'Cannabis might be the most disruptive force sinc...

    Jim Cramer surveys the pot craze as Canada prepares to legalize cannabis nationwide and flags the companies he thinks will be long-term winners.

  • Price Target Update for Canopy Growth in October
    Business
    Market Realist

    Price Target Update for Canopy Growth in October

    How Analysts Rate These Cannabis Stocks in October (Continued from Prior Part) Canopy Growth Without a doubt, Canopy Growth (CGC)(WEED) has been one of the hottest cannabis stocks on the market (MJ). The company is one of the most valuable companies,

  • A Look at AT&T’s Dividends
    Business
    Market Realist

    A Look at AT&T’s Dividends

    What Investors Should Know about AT&T’s Growth Prospects (Continued from Prior Part) Shareholder returns Increasing capital returns to shareholders is one of AT&T’s (T) main priorities. In the second quarter, the company returned $3.1 billion to shareholders

  • General Electric (GE) Stock Sinks As Market Gains: What You Should Know
    Finance
    Zacks

    General Electric (GE) Stock Sinks As Market Gains: What You Should Know

    With this in mind, we can consider positive estimate revisions a sign of optimism about the company's business outlook. Investors can capitalize on this by using the Zacks Rank. This model considers these estimate changes and provides a simple, actionable rating system.

  • Down 28% In 3 Months, Will Facebook Stock Ever Recover? 1 Analyst Thinks So
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Down 28% In 3 Months, Will Facebook Stock Ever Recover? 1 Analyst Thinks So

    Decelerating revenue growth, shrinking margins, and surging expenses: Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) Q2 earnings results were not for the faint of heart. Three months after that report lopped $120 billion off the social network's market cap, however, one analyst is stepping up to call Facebook stock a buy today. Facebook's last earnings report came out on July 25.

  • The Largest Private Employer in the World May Soon Sell Marijuana Products
    Business
    Motley Fool

    The Largest Private Employer in the World May Soon Sell Marijuana Products

    With literally hours remaining, Canada is set to lift the curtain on nine decades of recreational marijuana prohibition tomorrow. This makes Canada the first industrialized country in the world to legalize adult-use weed. As you might rightly imagine, investors can't wait for this legalization to take place.

  • Here's the Average Social Security Benefit for 2019
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Here's the Average Social Security Benefit for 2019

    Millions of seniors collect Social Security, and without it, they'd be underwater on their bills. At present, the average retiree gets $1,422 a month in Social Security benefits. There's a world of misinformation surrounding Social Security, and perhaps one of the most detrimental myths out there is the notion that the program is enough to sustain seniors by itself.

  • Marijuana stocks to watch: Canopy Growth is the cannabis business’s $4 billion gorilla
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Marijuana stocks to watch: Canopy Growth is the cannabis business’s $4 billion gorilla

    The following article is part of a package of stories that MarketWatch is publishing to mark the start of full legalization of cannabis for adult use in Canada on Wednesday. Smith Falls, Ontario–based Canopy Growth Corp. made headlines and drove cannabis stocks to new heights over the summer when it announced that Corona brewer Constellation Brands Inc. was going to invest an additional $4 billion in the company. Billed by both companies as a strategic partnership, the additional $4 billion investment adds to the 9.9% stake that Constellation bought in October of last year and sets the company up to either be bought outright by Constellation — via warrants that could increase its stake to more than 50% — or continue to work with the beverage company to create a range of consumer-focused cannabis products that may one day appear in markets in dozens of countries.

  • Business
    InvestorPlace

    30 Marijuana Stocks to Buy as the Future Turns Green

    With the previous presidential administration’s frankness on the matter, marijuana has become more blasé. Naturally, marijuana stocks have also increased in popularity, where we have more choices today than was previously thought possible. For instance, some of the top marijuana stocks are levered toward medical cannabis.

  • Why New Age Beverage Corp. Stock Popped Today
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why New Age Beverage Corp. Stock Popped Today

    Shares of New Age Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: NBEV) were climbing again today, riding a surge on marijuana stocks as growers like Tilray, Cronos Group, and Canopy Growth all jumped by double digits. Along with the bullish sentiment in the industry, a number of other factors seemed to be driving New Age shares higher, including the recent hiring of a new CFO, the upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on Wednesday, and the market's reaction to its launch last week of a new line of beverages infused with cannabidiol (CBD). On Friday, New Age named Gregory Gould as its new CFO, a notable move as Gould brings experience from the pharmaceutical industry, which should help the beverage company as it moves into CBD products.

  • Johnson & Johnson Reports Strong Q3 Results, Stock Rises
    Business
    Market Realist

    Johnson & Johnson Reports Strong Q3 Results, Stock Rises

    Johnson & Johnson Reports Strong Q3 Results, Stock Rises Johnson & Johnson’s third-quarter earnings Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) reported its third-quarter earnings results before the market opened today. It reported sales of $20.3 billion, up ~3.6% YoY (