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Republicans hardened their position and closed ranks Wednesday in the handling of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, ramping up their rhetoric and unifying around the idea that his accuser should testify — publicly or privately — by Monday.

It’s a big political gamble. Republicans may be able to leverage their slim 51-seat Senate majority to quickly push ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, despite Democrats’ objections and before any more public pressure has a chance to build.

But amid the #MeToo backlash over sexual misconduct, GOP leaders risk angering voters — particularly suburban women — if they seem to be dismissing the allegation of California professor Christine Blasey Ford or mistreating a woman who says she was a victim of attempted rape.

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Anita Hill
Anita Hill (Willy Sanjuan / Invision)

Anita Hill urged senators Wednesday to "push the pause button" on plans to hold a hearing next week on allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault decades ago. She said the FBI should be allowed to investigate, as his accuser has requested.

Hill, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 that now-Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, said senators should avoid a "sham" proceeding.

"The American public really is expecting something more," Hill said during an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America." "They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously."

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  • White House
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, shown this month in Missouri, has repeatedly explained why he had to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, shown this month in Missouri, has repeatedly explained why he had to recuse himself from the Russia probe. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

President Trump is renewing his attacks on Jeff Sessions, saying, "I don't have an attorney general."

Trump says in a Hill.TV interview released Wednesday he's "so sad over Jeff Sessions," whom he has repeatedly denounced for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The president claims in the interview that Sessions did not need to do so. But Department of Justice guidelines recommended the attorney general step away because of his own contacts with Russian officials during his time with the 2016 Trump campaign.

Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they both were in high school, signaled late Tuesday that she would not testify about the allegation until after the FBI investigated the matter.

  • White House
President Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump at the White House on Tuesday. (Michael Reynolds /EPA/Shutterstock)

President Trump says he feels "terribly" for Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh as he faces a decades-old accusation of sexual assault. Trump says the judge "is not a man that deserves this."

Trump made the comments Tuesday at a joint news conference with the president of Poland. He praised Kavanaugh, saying he was "at a level that we rarely see," but said he supported a review process in the Senate.

Kavanaugh's nomination has been threatened by a woman's allegation that when they were both in high school, he groped her, tried to take off her clothes and held his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. He has denied the accusation.

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  • Supreme Court
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, President Trump reiterated his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault, and said he did not see a need to involve the FBI.

“I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved,” Trump said.

Republicans on Capitol Hill plan to hear testimony Monday from Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, but will call no other witnesses, drawing rebuke from Democrats who say more witnesses and experts are needed.

  • White House
  • Supreme Court
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is sworn in during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 4.
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is sworn in during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 4. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump said Monday he is open to a delay in Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, which was suddenly called into question this weekend with allegations of a sexual assault during Kavanaugh’s high school years.

"We want to go through a full process...and hear everybody out,” Trump told reporters.

"If it takes a little delay, it'll take a little delay,” Trump added.

  • White House
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school "should testify under oath and she should do it on Capitol Hill."

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school "should testify under oath and she should do it on Capitol Hill."

She says that's up to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Conway told reporters Monday accuser Christine Blasey Ford should "not be ignored or insulted." Conway says Kavanaugh also should testify to the allegations, noting he has already provided testimony and has undergone FBI background checks.

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A letter reportedly alleging a decades-old incident involving Brett Kavanaugh has been referred to the FBI for review — the latest blow in the partisan and bitter battle over President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.