Collins wants Kavanaugh and accuser to be cross-examined by lawyers at hearing

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has requested that lawyers for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault be able to cross-examine both of them at Monday's scheduled hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Collins, a key swing vote in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, sent a letter on Tuesday to the committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, calling the accusations leveled against the judge by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford “serious” and asking that Ford's attorney be allowed to question Kavanaugh, and vice versa.

“Such an approach would provide more continuity, elicit the most information, and allow an in-depth examination of the allegations,” Collins wrote in her letter to Grassley.

Ford alleges that at a party when both were teenagers in the early 1980s, an intoxicated Kavanaugh trapped her in a bedroom, pinned her on a bed, tried to undress her and forced his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She said she got away when a companion of Kavanaugh's jumped on him.

Kavanaugh, 53, has vehemently denied the accusation. He said in a statement Monday that he wants to "refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity."

It's not yet clear, though, whether the hearing will go forward.

Grassley said Tuesday on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" that he'd not yet received confirmation from Ford that she would appear at Monday's hearing, despite several attempts to reach her.

"So it kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?" Grassley said.

A day earlier, Republicans agreed to hold a public Judiciary Committee hearing at which Kavanaugh and Ford have been invited to testify. Party leaders made that concession under pressure from senators demanding that the nominee and his accuser give public, sworn testimony before any vote on President Trump's nominee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.