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A tentative deal has been reached for Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

What we're watching: Republicans have publicly expressed a willingness to have Ford testify, but, as Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News' Chris Wallace, many are dubious as to what the hearing might actually reveal. Democrats, meanwhile, are continuing to push for a complete FBI investigation and have assailed their GOP counterparts for what they view as unfair treatment of Dr. Ford.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
  • Perdue on NBC's "Meet the Press": "There is absolutely no rush to judgment. I think any objective person looking at the way Sen. Grassley has handled this, they would walk away thinking he has done everything he can making sure this information comes before the Senate and that this person is treated with all the respect she is due."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  • Graham on "Fox News Sunday": "What do you expect someone to do with an accusation this vague — not verified in any way? Bring it forward, I will listen. But I'm not going to play a game here and tell you this will wipe out his entire life, because if nothing changes, it won't with me."
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
  • Hirono on CNN's "State of the Union": "I would be wanting to hear what kind of environment it was in high school. Apparently there was a lot of drinking and partying going on...we need an independent investigation that lays all of that out for us."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
  • Durbin on ABC's "This Week": "What in the hell did she have to gain in doing this? At this point, she's faced death threats, her family's been moved out of their home...when you take a look at this in honest terms, I believe that not only Judge Kavanaugh, but certainly Dr. Ford deserve a fair hearing."
Former Kavanaugh colleague Sara Fagen
  • Fagan on ABC's "This Week": "I don't know the series of events that led her to make the statement she's made. What I do know is his character, and that the other people who were supposed to be at the party said that the party didn't happen."

Go deeper

COVID cases and deaths are on the rise

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising all across the U.S. even before the Omicron variant takes hold.

Why it matters: The holidays — and the inevitable spread of Omicron — will only heighten the risks that unvaccinated Americans face from COVID, in all its forms.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.