Fiery Kavanaugh denies quiet accuser
Future of the high court and possibly the control of Congress hangs on today’s knife-edge vote
In a day like few others in Senate history, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford quietly recounted her “100 per cent” certainty that President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers — and then Brett Kavanaugh defiantly testified he was “100 per cent certain” he did no such thing.
That left senators to decide whether the long day of testimony tipped their confirmation votes for or against Trump’s nominee in a deeply partisan fight over the future of the high court and possibly the control of Congress.
Showing their own certainty, Republicans quickly scheduled a recommendation vote for today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where they hold an 11-10 majority.
In the committee’s packed hearing room for hour upon hour yesterday, both Kavanaugh and Ford said the alleged assault and the storm of controversy that has erupted 36 years later had altered their lives forever — perhaps the only thing they agreed on during their testimony, marked by a contrast of tone and substance.
Ford recounted for the senators and a nationwide TV audience her long-held secret of the alleged assault in a locked room at a gathering of friends when she was just 15. The memory — and Kavanaugh’s laughter during the act — was “locked” in her brain, she said. Ford delivered her testimony with deliberate certitude, though admitting gaps in her memory as she choked back tears at some points and said she “believed he was going to rape me”.
Hours later, Kavanaugh entered the hearing room fuming. He angrily denied her allegation, alternating a loud, defiant tone with near tears of his own, particularly when discussing his family. He decried his confirmation opposition as a “national disgrace”.
Democrats pressed the judge to call for an FBI investigation into the claims, but he would say only, “I welcome whatever the committee wants to do.”
Republicans are concerned, among other reasons, that further investigations could push a vote past the November elections that may switch Senate control back to the Democrats and make consideration of any Trump nominee more difficult.
Trump made his feelings clear that he was sticking by his choice. “His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting,” he tweeted. “The Senate must vote!”
Trump nominated the conservative jurist in what was supposed to be an election year capstone to the Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh riveted Washington and the nation with hours of fiery, emotional testimony from the judge and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault when they were high schoolers.
Kavanaugh denied the accusation.
Here are some takeaways from the extraordinary hearing: HOW DID SHE DO? Ford gave a soft-spoken and steady account about what she said happened three decades ago in a bedroom at a small gathering of friends.
She said she came forward not for political reasons, but because it was her “civic duty”.
She described in detail how an inebriated Kavanaugh and another teen, Mark Judge, locked GOP agenda, locking in the court’s majority for years to come. Instead Kavanaugh has seemed in peril and yesterday he faced the Senate hearing amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct at the top of powerful institutions.
The day opened with Ford, now a 51-year-old college professor in California. The psychology professor described what she says was her in a room at a house party as Kavanaugh was grinding and groping her.
She said he put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams, and testified, “I believed he was going to rape me”.
The 51-year-old mother of two said the incident was seared into her mind through trauma, while admitting some gaps in her memory around the attack.
Ford, a California psychology professor making her first public remarks about the incident, choked up occasionally describing the alleged attack.
Democratic senators questioned her directly, but the 11 Republican members on the committee instead chose to have a female sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona question Ford.
Asked how certain she was that Kavanaugh was her attacker, she declared, “100 per cent”. HOW DID HE DO? a harrowing assault in the summer of 1982: How an inebriated Kavanaugh and another teen, Mark Judge, locked her in a room at a house party as Kavanaugh was grinding and groping her.
She said he put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams. Judge has said does not recall the incident.
Republican strategists were privately Kavanaugh ditched his prepared remarks and instead issued a blistering statement declaring the confirmation process “a national disgrace”.
He strongly denied Ford’s allegation, but said he believed she had been the victim of a sexual assault.
The father of two daughters said one of his girls said they should “pray for the woman” accusing him.
“That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old,” he said, choking up.
Kavanaugh’s scorched-earth strategy gave President Donald Trump what he wanted: a nominee willing to fight back aggressively and yield no ground to Democrats. Echoing Ford, he said he was “100 per cent certain” he did not commit the assault.
At times, Kavanaugh’s frustrations boiled over. When Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota asked if hand-wringing after Ford’s testimony. The GOP special counsel Rachel Mitchell, a Phoenix sex crimes prosecutor, who Republicans had hired to avoid the optics of their all-male line up questioning Ford, left Republicans disappointed.
Mitchell’s attempt to draw out a counter-narrative — mainly that Ford was coordinating with Democrats he ever drank so much he blacked out, he snapped, “Have you?” He later apologised. Moments after the hearing finished, Trump tweeted that Kavanaugh “showed America exactly why I nominated him”. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PROSECUTOR? Republicans appointed Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Ford, and she led off the questioning of Kavanaugh. Then she quickly faded away.
After Mitchell asked Kavanaugh several detailed questions about Ford’s allegations, the GOP senators took matters into their own hands. Senator Lindsey Graham led the way with a scorching denunciation of Democrats for raising the allegations against Kavanaugh in the final days of the confirmation process. From — was disrupted by the panel’s decision to allow alternating five-minutes of questions from Democratic senators.
During a lunch break, even typically talkative GOP senators on the panel were without words. John Kennedy of Louisiana said he had no comment. Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he was “just listening.” there, each GOP senator handled his own questions, while Mitchell sat silently nearby.
Hours earlier, Mitchell opened her questioning of Ford by expressing sympathy for the professor, who said she was “terrified” to testify.
“I just wanted to let you know, I’m very sorry. That’s not right,” Mitchell said.
As her time for questioning Ford was coming to an end, Mitchell rhetorically asked Ford about the best way to question victims of sex crimes.
“Would you believe me that no study says that this setting in five-minute increments is the way to do that?” Mitchell asked. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Republicans quickly expressed their determination to move forward. After huddling in the Capitol, senators said the Judiciary Committee will hold a today vote on whether to
Then Kavanaugh strode into the committee room, arranged his nameplate, and with anger on his face started to testify with a statement he said he had shown only one other person. Almost immediately he choked up.
“My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed,” he said.
He lashed out over the time it recommend Kavanaugh for confirmation.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a longtime committee member, said he thinks Kavanaugh will get confirmed by a party-line vote.
Republicans’ margin for error in the full Senate is slim.
If all Democrats oppose the nomination, just two GOP senators would sink Kavanaugh’s confirmation if they were to oppose him as well.
Multiple Republican lawmakers haven’t said which way they will vote, including two women with reputations as moderates who have been willing to buck their party: Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Graham cautioned them against voting no.
“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimising the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” he said. took the committee to convene the hearing after Ford’s allegations emerged, singling out the Democrats for “unleashing” forces against him. He mocked Ford’s allegations — and several others since — that have accused him of sexual impropriety.
Even if senators vote down his confirmation, he said, “you’ll never get me to quit.”
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went off script and delivered an emotional denial of the claims, while Christine Blasey Ford gave a soft spoken and steady account of her allegations.