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President Trump heads to North Carolina to see damage from Hurricane Florence

President Trump heads to North Carolina to see damage from Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Trump travels to flood-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday to assess the federal response to Hurricane Florence, which drenched the state last week.Precise details of t ... Continue Reading
The GOP's older voter problem

The GOP's older voter problem

(CNN) - Is the GOP having a senior moment? Late summer surveys by CNN and other organizations show senior voters tilting decisively towards Democratic congressional candidates. That would dramatic ... Continue Reading
Trump Organization prepares for a fight if Democrats win

Trump Organization prepares for a fight if Democrats win

NEW YORK (CNN) - The Trump Organization, already hamstrung by self-imposed restrictions and costly legal bills, could face new headaches if Democrats take control of either the House or Senate this fa ... Continue Reading
6 possible Kavanaugh scenarios, including a Supreme Court vacancy until 2021

6 possible Kavanaugh scenarios, including a Supreme Court vacancy until 2021

(CNN) - Allegations of a sexual assault have thrown the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, which had seemed to be on a glide path, into chaos.The outcome now depends on a new hearing, te ... Continue Reading
Trump's most trusted national security adviser? Himself.

Trump's most trusted national security adviser? Himself.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Earlier this summer, National Security Council experts were working to implement harsh penalties against Chinese technology behemoth ZTE when President Donald Trump caught them off- ... Continue Reading
Kavanaugh's accuser made her move -- now Republicans have to choose

Kavanaugh's accuser made her move -- now Republicans have to choose

(CNN) - Republican leaders are preparing a controversial push to install Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court after a frenetic night of legal and political maneuvering in Washington that could reverb ... Continue Reading
Trump on Kavanaugh: 'This is not a man who deserves this'

Trump on Kavanaugh: 'This is not a man who deserves this'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Donald Trump continued to stand behind his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday, even as senators grapple with how to move forward after a woman has accused th ... Continue Reading
Former classmate of Kavanaugh's denies being at party in sexual assault allegation

Former classmate of Kavanaugh's denies being at party in sexual assault allegation

(CNN) - In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, another former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh's denies attending a party like the one described in the allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, w ... Continue Reading
After 'major escalation' in US-China trade war, what happens next?

After 'major escalation' in US-China trade war, what happens next?

HONG KONG (CNN) - The trade war between the United States and China just got a lot bigger after both sides announced their broadest waves of tariffs yet.

The latest exchange of fire means the two economic superpowers will soon have imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of goods. And analysts say the battle is likely to get worse, even as China starts to run low on ways to retaliate.

The new tariffs announced by Washington and Beijing this week "mark a major escalation of their conflict that will hit global economic growth," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at research firm Oxford Economics, said in a note.

The Chinese government said late Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration's announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs.

The US tariffs start at a rate of 10%, before rising to 25% at the end of the year. They come into effect on September 24, and will apply to thousands of Chinese products, ranging from food seasonings and baseball gloves to network routers and industrial machinery parts.

China's new tariffs will be levied at rates of 5% or 10%, depending on the product, from the same date, the Chinese government said.

More than 5,000 US goods will be affected, including meat, nuts, alcoholic drinks, chemicals, clothes, machinery, furniture and auto parts.

The clash between the world's top two economies is already hurting companies on both sides of the Pacific. The latest US move means roughly half of the products that China sells to the United States each year will be hit by American tariffs.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended the latest trade move against Beijing.

"We're doing a very good job with China," Trump said in the Oval Office. "China has been taking advantage of the United States for a long time and that's not happening anymore."

The Trump administration is trying to pressure Beijing to change its behavior, accusing it of overseeing the theft of US intellectual property and boosting Chinese companies through aggressive industrial policies. The Chinese government dismisses the criticism as groundless, even though American and European firms operating in China frequently complain about the issues.

What does China do next?

China had already gone blow for blow with the United States on tariffs on more than $50 billion of each other's goods this year. But its options for responding further are getting increasingly complicated.

The White House warned Monday that it would respond to any retaliation from Beijing with yet more tariffs on roughly $267 billion of Chinese exports. That would mean the US measures effectively cover all the goods China sells to the United States each year (the total for 2017 was about $506 billion).

China has a smaller target to aim for in response: it bought around $130 billion of US products last year, according to US government figures.

The tariffs announced by Beijing on Tuesday reflect the dwindling amount of goods on which it can impose new tariffs. The tariff range of 5% to 10% is lower than the 5%-to-25% range China had threatened in early August. That leaves it the option of ramping up the rates at the end of the year when the US tariffs rise from 10% to 25%.

"China has been unable to match the US dollar-for-dollar in this round of tariffs, so a key question is what other steps China might take," Mark Williams, chief China economist at research firm Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

Beijing's 'very difficult' decision

Analysts have suggested that after Beijing runs out of US goods to target, it could go after major American companies that do business in China, such as Apple and Boeing. China has a track record of such behavior, including making life difficult for South Korean firms because of a political dispute last year with South Korea's government over a US missile defense system.

Some US companies operating in China have already reported increased hurdles, including delays at customs and more inspections by regulators, according to a recent survey by two American chambers of commerce based in the country.

But uncertainty remains over whether Chinese leaders will aggressively pursue that approach on wider scale --- by encouraging consumer boycotts of US brands or disrupting supply chains.

The escalating waves of tariffs have prompted international companies to talk about shifting business out of China to avoid the extra taxes. By hounding American companies that have brought investment and jobs to the Chinese economy, Beijing risks making the country even less appealing for foreign firms.

"They don't want to add to the incentive of American companies to be looking at investing elsewhere and to source products elsewhere," said Timothy Stratford, a managing partner at law firm Covington & Burling in Beijing. "It's a very difficult policy decision on China's part to find just the right touch to do this."

"They are going to try to show they will stand up to the US and not just be pushed around, but I don't think they want to be seen as escalating things," Stratford said Tuesday during a panel discussion at a conference of business and political leaders in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

Uncertainty over trade talks

Before the latest round of tariff announcements, China and the United had been preparing to hold a new round of talks this month. It's unclear whether those will now take place.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that Trump's latest tariff salvo "has brought uncertainty" to the planned negotiations, but he stopped short of saying that Beijing was pulling out.

"The Chinese side has repeatedly emphasized that the only correct way to solve the trade dispute between China and the United States is through talk and consultation on the basis of equity, integrity and mutual respect," spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing. "But what the US side has done doesn't show sincerity or goodwill."

Ahead of Trump's tariff announcement late Monday, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the United States was still willing to continue its dialogue with China.

"We stand ready to negotiate with China anytime, if they are willing to engage in serious talks," Kudlow said at the Economic Club of New York.

Several previous rounds of talks between the two sides failed to achieve any breakthroughs. Analysts are skeptical China will be willing or able to do enough to satisfy the Trump administration on some of its key concerns, including Chinese efforts to get hold of US technology and Beijing's ambitious industrial policies.

"The principal objective of the tariffs is probably not to bring Beijing to the bargaining table," Arthur Kroeber, a senior analyst at research firm Gavekal said in a note Tuesday. "Rather, it is to force US multinational companies to pull back their investments in China, so that the interdependence of the two rival economies is reduced."

"Against this aim," he added, "no possible offer by China can cause the tariffs to be lifted."

Hillary Clinton: Trump 'left unchecked' in midterms could do lasting damage

Hillary Clinton: Trump 'left unchecked' in midterms could do lasting damage

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that if there isn't a "very big rejection" of President Donald Trump's "authoritarian tendencies" in the midterm ... Continue Reading
Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation before testifying

Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation before testifying

(CNN) - The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.

In a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and obtained by CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys argue that "a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions."

The letter from Ford's lawyers notes that despite receiving a "stunning amount of support from her community," Ford has also "been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats" and has been forced to leave her home.

"We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security," the letter from Ford's lawyers said.

Ford's attorney Lisa Banks told Cooper that Ford will talk with the committee but added, "She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday."

"She will talk with the committee," Banks said. "She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago."

"Asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process. If they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this, and she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee," Banks said Tuesday night.

Grassley said in a statement Tuesday night that there were never any plans to sit Ford and Kavanaugh together at the witness table, as Banks told Cooper during the interview. He said there is no reason for more delay:

"Immediately after learning of Dr. Ford's identity from news reports Sunday, committee staff started working to gather facts related to her claims. We've offered Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story with the committee, as her attorney said yesterday she was willing to do. We offered her a public or a private hearing as well as staff-led interviews, whichever makes her most comfortable. The invitation for Monday still stands."

"Dr. Ford's testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events," Grassley said. "Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay."

A Justice Department spokesperson said the FBI had forwarded the initial letter from Sen. Dianne Feinstein on September 12 to the White House counsel's office in accordance with guidelines for conducting background checks.

The spokesperson noted that the allegation "does not involve any potential federal crime," and said if the FBI becomes aware of new information that raises suitability questions about a nominee or appointee, the agency will inform the White House, which is an existing agreement.

According to the spokesperson, the FBI "does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation."

The letter comes after a day of uncertainty about whether the hearing scheduled for Monday would even take place, as Republicans continued to emphasize their repeated efforts to reach out to Ford.

Last week, news surrounding a private letter that had been sent to Feinstein, Democrat of California, raised potential questions about Kavanaugh's nomination. Feinstein later announced she had given the letter to the FBI. On Sunday, The Washington Post published a story that detailed Ford's personal account of an incident that Ford said took place when she and Kavanaugh were both in high school.

Ford alleges that while at a party, Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom along with his former classmate Mark Judge, and attempted to remove her clothes. She also alleges that Kavanaugh put her hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream. Kavanaugh has denied the incident, and he and Judge both deny being at the party in question.

"This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes -- to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday," Kavanaugh said in a statement. "I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity."

The public accusation led Grassley on Monday to announce that the committee would convene next Monday to give both Kavanaugh and Ford the opportunity to publicly testify, as both had indicated a willingness to do so.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans had yet to hear from Ford or her lawyer regarding their request for her to testify.

"What we're saying is there should be an investigation because that's the right thing to do," Banks said.

"She is prepared to cooperate with the committee and with any law enforcement investigation," she added.

Democrats have pushed back on the hearing. All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter on Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House counsel Don McGahn arguing that the FBI should conduct an investigation prior to a hearing.

"The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI's report before we proceed," the senators wrote.

Feinstein said in a statement she supported Ford's proposal.

"We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford's wishes and delay this hearing. A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date," Feinstein said in a news release.

"I hope that each and every one of us will immediately denounce the horrific treatment of Dr. Blasey Ford. That this brave woman is receiving death threats and has been forced to flee with her family is appalling and heartbreaking. This abuse must stop. We're better than this."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, also supported Ford's proposal.

"Dr. Ford's call for the FBI to investigate also demonstrates her confidence that when all the facts are examined by an impartial investigation, her account will be further corroborated and confirmed," Schumer said in a statement. "Senate Republicans and the White House should drop their inexplicable opposition to an FBI investigation, allow all the facts to come out, and then proceed with a fair process in the Senate. Dr. Ford's life has already been badly disrupted by death threats and other intimidation. She deserves to be treated with respect and fairness by the Senate."

However, Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, countered Ford's proposal on Twitter Tuesday night, arguing, "The FBI does not do investigations like this."

"The responsibility falls to us," Hatch tweeted. "Chairman @ChuckGrassley has moved our committee vote to accommodate Dr. Ford's lawyer's offer on TV yesterday to have her client testify before the Judiciary Committee. We should proceed as planned."

Kavanaugh accuser's friend says she has told him she needs more than one exit from her bedroom

Kavanaugh accuser's friend says she has told him she needs more than one exit from her bedroom

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A longtime friend of Christine Blasey Ford -- the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault -- tells CNN that Ford has previously said she needs "more t ... Continue Reading
Georgia district is ordered to redo primary election after voting errors

Georgia district is ordered to redo primary election after voting errors

(CNN) - A judge said he will order a Georgia Legislature district to redo a primary election between two Republicans because errors in voter data called the results into question.The announcement ... Continue Reading
Read: Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys' letter requesting FBI investigation

Read: Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys' letter requesting FBI investigation

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.In a let ... Continue Reading
Cruz campaign defends mailer resembling official summons

Cruz campaign defends mailer resembling official summons

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz's reelection campaign on Tuesday defended a mailer labeled as "Official Travis County Summons" that was soliciting campaign contributions. The Texas Republican's campaign had ... Continue Reading
Trump inflames war on Justice Dept. by declassifying Russia docs

Trump inflames war on Justice Dept. by declassifying Russia docs

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Donald Trump showed no signs of backing off his highly unprecedented order to declassify various documents and text messages related to the Russia investigation Tuesday, saying he wants it done for "transparency."

The move, which has prompted renewed unease about the increasing politicization of intelligence materials, is likely to further inflame tensions between the President and intelligence and law enforcement officials, who have been the target of presidential Twitter tirades and who have voiced concerns in the past about potentially jeopardizing sources and methods.

"We want transparency and what I want is I want total transparency," Trump said in the Oval Office Tuesday.

"This is a witch hunt," he added, using his derisive reference to the Russia investigation. "It's a terrible witch hunt and it's hurt our country and the things that have been found over the last couple of weeks about text messages back and forth are a disgrace to our nation. And I want transparency and so does everybody else."

The President directed the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to initiate the "immediate declassification" of selective portions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application on former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page, according to a statement Monday from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Most significantly, his request also broadly included "all FBI reports of interviews" prepared in connection with the FISA applications, which are normally closely guarded by the FBI.

When asked Tuesday whether he would declassify other documents relating to the Russia investigation Trump only responded: "We're gonna see."

The President had floated the idea of declassification for several weeks, but Monday's statement from the White House was the first time the full breadth of his intentions was articulated, making clear that he expects materials to be released despite the fact that there's an active investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into any links between his campaign associates and the Russian government.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump quoted Rep. Peter King, R-New York, on Twitter, saying: "What will be disclosed is that there was no basis for these FISA Warrants, that the important information was kept from the court, there's going to be a disproportionate influence of the (Fake) Dossier. Basically you have a counter terrorism tool used to spy on a presidential ... campaign, which is unprecedented in our history."

"Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed. Big stuff!," Trump added in his own voice.

Trump on Monday also ordered the Justice Department to release fully unredacted text messages "related to the Russia investigation" from former officials he's continually lambasted given their connections to the investigation, including FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official.

A Justice Department spokesperson said the agency was already working with the ODNI to comply with the President's order.

"When the President issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America's national security interests," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Polarizing decision

Trump's directive drew fierce criticism from Democrats and praise from a group of conservative Republicans, many who are members of the Freedom Caucus, who have urged Trump to take this declassification step.

"The President shouldn't be declassifying documents in order to undermine an investigation into his campaign or pursue vendettas against political enemies," said Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "He especially shouldn't be releasing documents with the potential to reveal intelligence sources."

Top Democrats sent a letter Tuesday to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray expressing "profound alarm" at Trump's decision.

They also requested an immediate briefing for the "Gang of Eight" -- the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and their intelligence committees -- from the agency heads prior to any disclosure. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff of California and Warner all signed the letter.

"The action (President Trump) has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that he believes he can manipulate publicly to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel's investigation, is a brazen abuse of power," the letter reads. "Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice policies."

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said Tuesday that he would prefer to keep the FISA documents on Page classified. But the North Carolina Republican nevertheless defended Trump's prerogative to declassify the materials.

"I've said before that I prefer not to see things released publicly and it holds true for this as well," Burr told reporters Tuesday. "Anything that's directly involved in an investigation like we're in I'd prefer that those stay confidential or classified."

Burr previously broke with his House Intelligence Committee counterparts after they released a memo with details on the Page FISA. But in this case, he said the President has the unilateral authority to declassify.

"The President has the full authority to declassify anything," Burr said. "Declassification is the executive branch. It doesn't have anything to do with us."

North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close ally of the President, praised the move.

"It's time to get the full truth on the table so the American people can decide for themselves on what happened at the highest levels of their FBI and Justice Department," he tweeted.

Thousands of text messages between Page and Strzok have already been released with redactions for personal information and to protect parts of the ongoing investigation, but publicly releasing them in fully unredacted form could run afoul of the federal privacy law guarding against the disclosure of personal information.

Yet the declassification effort represents only the latest front in the larger partisan struggle over the Russia investigation.

Earlier this year, the FBI clashed with the President over a controversial Republican intelligence memo from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, which argued that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier on Trump and Russia, harbored anti-Trump motivations that were not disclosed in the FISA application and that the FISA court was not told that Steele's dossier was funded through a law firm by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Democrats responded with their own memo, which argued that the FBI's interest in Page predated the FBI's knowledge of the Steele dossier. It also argued that it was not the dossier and the Page FISA warrant that prompted the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Russia, but rather an earlier conversation that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had with an Australian diplomat about alleged Russian dirt on Clinton.

Eventually, in a highly unusual move, the FBI released highly redacted versions of the FISA applications in July after news organizations and advocacy groups sued for their disclosure.

Potential for backfire?

But since that time, certain House Republicans have called for the public release of specific pages, even though they have acknowledged they are not sure whether the documents will help or hurt their arguments about alleged improper conduct in the probe.

Their latest effort could backfire and upend the narrative House Republicans have spent months crafting, should the declassified documents confirm the FBI had more than the dossier to justify the surveillance of Page.

The redacted versions of the FISA warrant applications showed that the agency did raise concerns that Page was a target of Russian recruitment and might have been working with the Kremlin. Page has denied the allegations. A footnote also disclosed a political motivation behind the Steele dossier and said the person behind it was likely looking for information to discredit Trump's campaign, but Trump did not order the vast majority of that portion of the October 2016 FISA declassified Monday.

Some 30 members of Congress have reviewed largely unredacted versions of the highly sensitive FISA applications, but several of the most vocal members of the current declassification campaign have not.

CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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Trump administration rewrites Obama-era rule for potent greenhouse gas

(CNN) - The Trump administration has finished rewriting an Obama administration rule on methane pollution from oil and gas wells on public lands -- but the new version of the Waste Prevention Rule is ... Continue Reading
Senior FEMA official suspended in relation to Long investigation

Senior FEMA official suspended in relation to Long investigation

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Kavanaugh hearing uncertain for Monday as accuser wants FBI to investigate before hearing

Kavanaugh hearing uncertain for Monday as accuser wants FBI to investigate before hearing

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Christine Blasey Ford said in a letter Tuesday that she wants an FBI investigation into her allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate holds a hearing on her allegations.

The letter, obtained by CNN, capped off a day of uncertainty around the planned hearing for Monday morning, which Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would hold to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations.

Ford's attorney Lisa Banks told Anderson Cooper on "CNN's Anderson Cooper 360" that Ford will talk with the committee but added, "She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday."

"She will talk with the committee," Banks said. "She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago."

"Asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process. If they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this, and she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee," Banks said Tuesday night.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday evening that Republicans still had not heard from Ford or her attorney regarding an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

Republican sources on Capitol Hill say it's uncertain if the hearing scheduled for next Monday to address the accusation against Kavanaugh will occur.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, had said Tuesday morning that he had yet to hear back from Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually and physically assaulted her while they were both in high school.

Grassley told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show that Ford has not accepted his request to appear before the committee.

"We have reached out to her in the last 36 hours, three or four times, by email, and we have not heard from them," Grassley said. "So it kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?"

McConnell said Tuesday that the committee has yet to decide on the makeup of the hearing, and added that they would offer her the opportunity to speak privately if she preferred.

Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch said on Tuesday evening that they planned to proceed with the nomination even if Ford does not show up at the planned hearing on Monday.

"We're going to proceed -- there's no question about it," Hatch said.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, sits on the Judiciary Committee and had previously said the committee should hold off on voting until they hear from the accuser. However, Flake said Tuesday that if Ford fails to appear at the hearing scheduled for Monday, he would support his party's push to move forward on a vote on Kavanaugh.

"I think we'll have to move to the markup," he told CNN.

Flake said he's hopeful Ford will accept the committee's invitation and speak at the hearing. "I hope she does. I think she needs to be heard," he said.

Ford, in the letter via her attorneys, said she faced "vicious harassment and even death threats" since she came forward and still wanted to cooperate with the committee and law enforcement.

"We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member (Dianne) Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security," the letter from Ford's lawyers said.

Garrett Ventry, a spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Grassley condemned the threats.

"Chairman Grassley condemns these threats toward Dr. Blasey. He looks forward to a fair, respectful, and thorough hearing next week," Ventry said in a statement before the letter was released.

Earlier Tuesday, upon entering McConnell's office, Hatch told reporters that lawmakers were meeting to figure out the next steps -- including whether the hearing would proceed without Ford.

Flake also met with leadership at around noon on Tuesday to talk about a possible delay in the nomination process in order to schedule a hearing so Ford could tell her story. Flake said some Republicans wanted to push for a hearing on Thursday, but he insisted on Monday.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called Ford's silence "pretty telling," but added they hope she does testify.

"That's pretty telling, she hasn't responded to the committee's normal processes and we don't know if she's coming or not but this is her chance. This is her one chance. We hope she does," Cornyn said.

Democrats maintain that they want the FBI to reopen Kavanaugh's background check ahead of a hearing.

The 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee penned a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House Counsel Don McGahn on Tuesday arguing that the FBI needs to complete an investigation before the hearing is scheduled to take place on Monday.

"The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI's report before we proceed," the senators wrote.

If the FBI doesn't investigate the allegation, said Sen. Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel, she thinks the hearing should be delayed.

"The important thing is to get this investigated," Feinstein said. "There was a witness there -- and that was this fellow (Mark) Judge. ..."

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a key Senate vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, said it would be "puzzling" if Ford did not testify on Monday.

"That's very puzzling to me," she said about the uncertainty of Ford's appearance. "I've said from the beginning that these are very serious allegations and she deserves to be heard. She is now being given an opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions, and I really hope that she doesn't pass up that opportunity."

When asked about Democrats' request for the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Kavanaugh before the hearing takes place -- and whether that could be a deciding factor for Ford to testify, Cornyn said: "She is not really in a position to make conditions, in my view."

Since Kavanaugh was first nominated, Republicans have continued to emphasize the importance of following the proper procedures -- a message President Donald Trump has even touched on since the accusation came to light.

However, Feinstein's request for an investigation ahead of the hearing breaks with procedure. She also has questioned the speed of the hearing and the fact that there will be only two witnesses, Kavanaugh and Ford.

But a source who supports Kavanaugh notes that it was Feinstein who declined to release the letter back in July before the hearings, and rejects any notion that the FBI should step in and investigate first.

"That's not how it works," he said.

"The hearing is the investigation. At the heart of the investigation is what Ford says. If Ford doesn't want an investigation than she shouldn't have gotten into this game in the first place," he said.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct when Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley made his comments about not hearing back from Christine Blasey Ford. It was Tuesday.

'Dark money' groups could have to name their political donors ahead of midterms

'Dark money' groups could have to name their political donors ahead of midterms

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Supreme Court move on Tuesday could mean that so-called "dark money" groups would have to disclose the names of their donors, potentially chipping away at a longstanding shroud of ... Continue Reading