- Professor Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
- Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school.
- Both Kavanaugh and Ford were questioned by senators on the committee and a career prosecutor enlisted by the Republican majority.
After committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, delivered their opening statements, Ford gave her opening statement before being questioned. Kavanaugh was set to testify after Ford, in the afternoon. (Ford and Kavanaugh will not be in the same room together.)
Rather than questioning the two witnesses themselves, senators can yield the five minutes they’re each allotted to an independent counsel, Rachel Mitchell, a career prosecutor experienced in handling sex crimes who was enlisted by the committee’s Republicans.
The Senate is narrowly divided, and Kavanaugh will need to convince a handful of Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake – all of whom appear undecided – that he is innocent and fit to be confirmed.
A committee vote to confirm Kavanaugh is tentatively scheduled for Friday.
Watch the hearing here, and scroll down for our timeline of the proceedings:
6:45 p.m. ET: Chairman Charles Grassley announces the hearing is adjourned close to four hours after Kavanaugh began testifying.
Chairman Grassley adjourns the hearing, after four hours of Kavanaugh’s testimony.
6:19 p.m. ET: Sen. Cory Booker asks Kavanaugh if he wishes if Ford never came forward
Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat, asked Kavanaugh a series of questions about whether he believes Ford is part of a coordinated campaign to block his confirmation.
“Do you wish she never came forward?” Booker asked.
“The witnesses that were there said it didn’t happen – all allegations should be taken seriously,” Kavanaugh responded.
5:35 p.m. ET: Kavanaugh apologizes to Sen. Klobuchar
Kavanaugh re-opened the hearing after a 15 minute break by apologizing to Sen. Amy Klobuchar for shooting
“I’m sorry I did that, this is a tough process. I’m sorry about that,” he said.
Klobuchar said she appreciated the apology.
“When you have a parent that’s an alcoholic, you’re pretty careful about drinking,” Klobuchar said, referring to her earlier comment about her father, who has struggled with alcoholism for many years.
The senator then repeated her call to re-open the FBI background check “to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence.”
Brett Kavanaugh apologizes for flipping the question on Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "Sorry I did that, this is a tough process. I'm sorry about that."
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 27, 2018
4:45 p.m. ET: ‘This is the most unethical sham since i’ve been in politics’: Sen. Lindsey Graham eviscerates his Senate Democratic colleagues
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, used his five minutes to deliver an emotional rant, slamming Democratic senators for what he called a “sham” process.
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me,” Graham said, addressing his Democratic colleagues. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
And to his Republican colleagues, Graham said, “If you vote no, you’re legitmising the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
Graham apologised to Kavanaugh for what he’s been through.
“I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through,” he said. “This is not a job interview, this is hell. This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap.”
4:30 p.m. ET: Kavanaugh grows angry during questions about Mark Judge and his yearbook page
Kavanaugh became angry when answering questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, about whether Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, should have been called to testify before the committee.
Kavanaugh said Judge – who Ford alleges was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her – suffered for many years from alcoholism. Kavanaugh said the book that Judge wrote about their high school years, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,” was a “fictionalized account.”
“We can sit here and make fun of some guy who has an addiction,” Kavanaugh said, adding that he didn’t know if he was the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” character in Judge’s book.
When Leahy asked about Kavanaugh’s senior class yearbook page, the judge also grew angry.
“I’m going to talk about my high school record if you’re going to sit here and mock me,” he said.
4:00 p.m. ET: Kavanaugh says he would have agreed to an FBI investigation: ‘I’m all in, immediately’
Responding to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Kavanaugh said that he would have welcomed an FBI investigation, but that it wasn’t his place to ask for one.
“I’m all in, immediately,” he said.
3:55 p.m. ET: Rachel Mitchell begins her questioning of Kavanaugh
Mitchell gave Kavanaugh a document stating the definition of sexual behaviour to review.
3:50 p.m. ET: Kavanaugh: ‘I may never teach again … I may never coach again’
Kavanuagh said that the allegations made against him could “destroy” his future – not just his prospect of becoming a Supreme Court justice.
“I love teaching law, but thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never teach again,” Kavanaugh said.
“I have a long record of service to America and to the Constitution,” he said. “I ask you to judge me by the standard that you would want applied to your father, your husband, your brother, or your son.”
3:08 p.m. ET: We’re back from recess and Judge Brett Kavanaugh will begin his testimony
Judge Brett Kavanaugh delivered a defiant opening statement.
“My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations,” he said. “I know that any kind of investigation … will clear me.”
Kavanaugh slammed the confirmation process as “a national disgrace” and called out a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee for calling him “evil.”
“You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy,” he said. “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”
The judge insisted that he will not withdraw his nomination.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. You have tried hard. You given it your all. No one can question your effort,” he said. “Your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroyed my family will not drag me out.”
The judge said he fears for the precedent that this will set for future confirmation processes.
“What goes around comes around,” he said. “I fear for the future.”
Kavanaugh became emotional when describing the impact the allegations have had on his family and added that his daughter, Eliza, said the family should pray for her father’s accusers.
“That’s a lot of wisdom from a ten-year-old,” he said.
1:48 p.m. ET: Sen. Cory Booker thanked Ford for testifying, telling her, “Your brilliance shining light onto this and speaking your truth is nothing short of heroic.”
The New Jersey Democrat asked how Ford’s children and husband were doing considering she’s received death threats and had to go into hiding with security. She responded that her family was doing “fairly well considering.”
During the lunch break, Feinstein said she thinks Ford is a “very credible witness” who’s “entirely believable,” and again called for an FBI investigation into her accusations.
Feinstein told Business Insider:
“I think when you think back to understand what she’s gone through and she was 15 when this happened, the big thing is we need an FBI investigation and that gets to the nuts and bolts of this. And it’s believable. There’s a real problem I think without an investigation by the FBI because people can say – make a lot of accusations – and none of them will be true and yet you can’t prove or disprove it.”
12:35 p.m. ET: Sen. Richard Blumenthal: “You have given America a teaching moment”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, called Ford’s decision to come forward with her allegation a “profound public service.”
Blumenthal called the hearing a “teaching moment” for the country.
“The senators on the other side of the aisle have been silent,” Blumenthal said, and then quoted his Republican colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham, who once said of his prosecutions of rape cases, “I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep a hidden place it takes for a rape victim or a sexually abused child to testify against their assailants.”
12:14 p.m. ET: Mitchell resumes questioning.
Mitchell asked Ford a series of questions about how she made her representative in congress and The Washington Post aware of her allegations.
She also asked Ford about how she came to the decision to get a lawyer. Ford said she hired a lawyer to help her decide whether to “push forward or stay back.”
12:05 p.m. ET: Sen. Amy Klobuchar: ‘They used to say what happens inside a house, doesn’t belong in the courthouse.’
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, began her questioning of Ford by thanking her for coming forward in front of the entire nation.
“They used to say what happens inside a house doesn’t belong in the courthouse,” Klobuchar said. “Well, the times have changed.”
Klobuchar submitted Ford’s polygraph report into the record.
11:48 a.m. ET: We’re back after a 15-minute break.
Mitchell showed Ford a map of the area around the Columbia Country Club and her parents home in Bethesda, Maryland, showing the distance between the two as about eight miles.
Ford repeated that she could not give the exact date of the alleged assault, but said she did not drive to the gathering or home from it because she was 15 at the time and did not have her driver’s licence yet.
This map was just handed out at the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing. It makes the point that…I’m not sure what, exactly. pic.twitter.com/CmaINcetCR
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) September 27, 2018
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse issued biting criticism of the process by which Ford’s allegations are being considered by the Senate.
“I submit that never – never in the history of background investigations – has an investigation not been pursued when new derogatory information … was brought forward about a nominee,” he said. “It’s wildly unusual and out of character.”
11:25 a.m. ET: Ford says she ran into Mark Judge after the alleged assault and he ‘looked a little bit ill’ when she said hello to him.
Ford says she ran into Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend who she said was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her, at a Safeway grocery store in Maryland with her mother about six weeks after the alleged attack.
“I said ‘hello’ to him and his face was white and very uncomfortable saying ‘hello’ back,” she said. “I wouldn’t characterise him as not friendly; he was just a little bit nervous and didn’t want to speak with me.”
Ford said Judge “looked a little bit ill” when she saw him at the store.
Protesters with “I stand with Brett” stickers alongside protesters supporting Ford.
Protesters for and against Kavanaugh are outside the hearing.
In the Hart building there are about a dozen “Women for Kavanaugh” protesters and about 200 anti-Kavanaugh protesters separated by a wall of police.
11:10 a.m. ET: Sen. Patrick Leahy questions Ford.
Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, began his questions by arguing that the hearing was unfair, but praised Ford for making “a positive, lasting impact on so many survivors across the country.”
Leahy asked Ford whether it was possible that she “mixed up” Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge – an alleged witness to teh assault, with others. She said it was not possible.
Ford teared up when she described the “uproarious laughter” Judge and Kavanaugh shared “at my expense” during the alleged assault.
“I was underneath one of them while the two of them laughed,” she said, becoming emotional.
Leahy asked in conclusion, “You do remember what happened, do you not?”
She replied, “Very much so.”
In response to questions from Sen. Dick Durbin, Ford said she was “100%” certain that it was Kavanaugh who attacked her.
11:07 a.m. ET: More questions from the counsel.
Mitchell asked Ford more details about the day of the alleged assault.
Ford said Kavanaugh and Judge were “extremely inebriated” at the gathering at which she was allegedly assaulted and that they must have been drinking before they arrived at the gathering.
11:00 a.m. ET: Feinstein asks questions of Ford.
Feinstein began by putting two letters in the record. One from friends and another from 1,000 supporters across the country.
Ford said she suffers from anxiety and PTSD, among other psychological problems, and “claustrophobia and panic” specifically, as a result of the alleged assault.
Ford said she struggled most in the first four years after the alleged attack and “very much” during her time at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ford said a reporter appeared in her classroom and she mistook her for one of her students. Ford said at the moment she determined “enough was enough” and it “was time to say what I needed to say.”
Ford said this is “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identity.
10:54 a.m. ET: Questioning by independent counsel Rachel Mitchell begins.
Mitchell begins by asking about a WhatsApp message Ford exchanged with a reporter at The Washington Post and the letter Ford wrote to Sen. Feinstein.
Ford said there were “at least” four other teenagers at the house party where she said she was assaulted, rather than just four others.
10:45 a.m. ET: Ford: ‘The last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life.’
Ford said that while she and her family have received an “outpouring” of support from friends, her community, and strangers across the country since she came forward, her family has also been the targets of “constant harassment and death threats” and “been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.”
“My greatest fears have been realised – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected,” she said, adding that she and her family were forced out of their Palo Alto home and have been living in “various secure locals, at times separated and at times together, with the help of security guards” for the last 10 days.
She said the last couple of weeks have been “the hardest” of her life.
10:36 a.m. ET: Ford describes the alleged assault.
Ford detailed the alleged attack, which she said occurred after a day of swimming at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland, in the summer of 1982.
“I drank one beer that evening; Brett and Mark were visibly drunk,” she said. “I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy.”
Ford said she did not tell anyone about the alleged assault for years, but the trauma continued to affect her.
“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life,” she said.
10:33 a.m. ET: Christine Blasey Ford begins her opening statement.
Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University, read her opening statement to the Committee. At points, Ford appeared to tear up.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” Ford said in her prepared opening statement. “I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
10:19 a.m. ET: Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein begins her opening statement.
Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein began her opening statement by introducing Ford.
“I am very grateful to you for you strength and your bravery in coming forward. I know it’s hard,” Feinstein said.
Making a broader point about the lack of justice for many survivors of sexual violence, Feinstein said, “How women are treated in the united states with this kind of concern is really wanting a lot of reform.”
She implied that the Senate is not up to the task, “Our institutions have not progressed in how they treat women who come forward.”
Feinstein compared Ford’s hearing with the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings.
“In 1991, Republicans belittled Professor Hill’s experience,” she said. “And the burden of proof was on Prof. Hill.”
Feinstein rebuked her GOP colleagues for “ploughing right through” and not giving the allegations against Kavanaugh a fair hearing.
“Each of these allegations should be investigated by the FBI,” Feinstein said, adding that all three women who have made sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh have asked for FBI investigations.
“The entire country is watching how we handle these allegations,” she said. “I hope the majority changes their tactics, opens their mind, and reflects on why we are here … this is not a trial for Dr. Ford, this is a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh.”
10:05 a.m. ET: The hearing has begun.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has begun his opening statement.
“I intend today’s hearing to be safe, comfortable, and dignified for both witnesses,” he said, adding, “I lament how this hearing has come about.”
He said Ford’s allegations were made public “only at the 11th hour,” after Kavanaugh had completed his confirmation hearings before the committee. Grassley argued that an FBI investigation was not appropriate or necessary.
“They do not reach conclusions,” Grassley said of the FBI.
Of his Democratic colleagues’ concerns with the process, Grassley said, “I see no basis for complaint other than just plain politics.”
10 a.m. ET
Hello, and welcome to Business Insider’s liveblog of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony.
We’ll be bringing you all the latest news as it comes in. Stay tuned.
9:45 a.m. ET: Senators arrive for the hearing
Our reporter in DC saw Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, who is not on the Judiciary Committee, enter the Senate hearing room.
Sen. Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, repeated his desire for an FBI investigation minutes before the hearing in an interview with reporters.
“With all due respect to the Judiciary Committee staff, they are completely inadequate as a substitute for the FBI,” he said. “And the failure to do it is part of pattern of concealment and cover up that the White House has authorised and supported.”
Blumenthal said he would ask questions that “go to concealment and credibility” on Kavanaugh’s part.
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