- Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
- Republicans opted to have a seasoned prosecutor question Ford instead of doing it themselves.
- Most Republicans emerged from the hearing unmoved, with Democrats maintaining that Ford’s testimony was credible.
- Follow our live coverage.
WASHINGTON – Republicans and Democrats came out of the testimony from professor Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday the same way they went into it – fiercely divided on whether or not the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault was telling the truth.
The question of Ford’s credibility was on the line, particularly with the few senators undecided on voting to confirm Kavanaugh and those in a political bind going into the 2018 midterm elections. But for the overwhelming majority of senators, nothing Ford said really changed their minds.
“Do I find her credible? Well I don’t know that we know anything new,” Republican Sen. John Thune told reporters. “I mean I haven’t watch it all but it seems like the fact pattern is pretty much the same. There’s still nobody that can corroborate her story. So I’m not sure at this point there’s anything that we’ve learned that we didn’t already know.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who like all the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee deferred their questioning time to the outside counsel hired for the hearing, told reporters he “wanted to hear it out,” but did not like the constant distractions of other accusations.
“What I regret is all this garbage coming in from left field – accusations that are just so over the top – has kind of taken away from this whole process,” he said.
Graham also reiterating a common theory among Republicans, that Ford misidentified Kavanaugh as the man who assaulted her when they were both in high school.
“I think something happened to her somewhere in her life, but I’m stuck with the fact that somewhere in Maryland maybe in the summer of 1982 and I think it’d be pretty clear here in a few minutes that the people named don’t corroborate it,” he said.
Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, said Ford appeared to be credible, but that he thought the same of Kavanaugh, whose story is that he never committed any sexual assault.
“Looks to me that she’s credible,” Shelby said. “I thought Kavanaugh was credible too. So we don’t know, let’s let the process work. That’s all I know.”
But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn emerged from the hearing with a different opinion than before it started.
“I found no reason to find her not credible,” he told reporters after Ford’s testimony concluded. “There are obviously gaps in her story. Obviously we know people who are traumatized can have those sort of gaps. But again I regret that she finds herself in this circus-like setting.”
Cornyn noted that he still needs to hear from Kavanaugh as well.
“I think we need to hear from the judge,” he said. “I think his reputation is on the line. His career as well. This needs to be a fair process to both Dr. Ford and to Judge Kavanaugh.”
Democrats are still demanding the FBI take the lead
Democrats have called on President Donald Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination, while also hammering in that the FBI needs to investigate the matter. So far that has not happened, but they continued to demand an investigation in lieu of the committee probing the allegations on their own.
“I think she’s a very credible witness,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, told Business Insider. “I think she’s entirely believable.”
“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,” she added. “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.”
For the few remaining swing voters on Kavanaugh’s nomination, they are still delaying any judgment. Sen. Joe Donnelly told reporters Ford’s testimony was “extraordinarily credible and compelling,” but did not offer much more.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, one of the handful of Democrats up for re-election this year in conservative states, said he found Ford to be credible, but needed to wait out the entire process and hear from Kavanaugh as well.
“I think that proper questions have been asked and it would be interesting to see what Kavanaugh has to say this afternoon,” he said. “This is one side of the argument, I want to hear the other side of the argument before we make any [decision].”
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