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Key Moments from Ford and Kavanaugh Testimony

Cornyn says Judiciary Committee still plans to vote Friday on Supreme Court nominee

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh refutes the allegations against him in his testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/POOL)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh refutes the allegations against him in his testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/POOL)

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the nominee of sexual assault when they were both in high school in the 1980s.

Ford testified earlier in the day that she was “100 percent” that Kavanaugh was the boy who pinned her to a bed, putting a hand over her mouth to muffle screams, and tried to pull her clothes off before she was able to escape.

Kavanaugh testified in the afternoon, angrily accusing Democrats of character assassination and saying that he was “100 percent” sure that the allegations were false.

“You have replaced ‘advise and consent’ with search and destroy,” he said to Democrats on the panel.

Kavanaugh told the committee he would support a FBI investigation into the charges against him.

“Senator, I’ll do whatever the committee wants. I wanted a hearing the next day,” he said of the claims made by Ford, his first accuser. “Instead, 10 days passed.”

“I’m all in — immediately,” he said of a federal investigation.

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., points at the Democrats as he defends Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)
An angry Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham castigated Democrats for how they have handled allegations against Kavanaugh, calling their efforts “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

But pressed by Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Kamala Harris later in his testimony whether he would ask the White House to request the FBI investigate the allegations, the nominee stopped short of saying he would.

“I’m going to take that as a ‘no’ and move on,” Harris ended that line of questioning.

Kavanaugh was collegial with Democrats during two days of confirmation testimony earlier this month. But on Thursday, he angrily interrupted Feinstein and at times glared at Democratic members of the committee.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn told reporters that the Judiciary Committee still plans to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday.

Outside the highly charged hearing, dozens of protesters were arrested as thousands flooded through the areas around the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell organized a Republican Conference meeting for later in the evening after testimony concluded. It’s likely that leadership will get the temperature of the conference on a vote in Kavanaugh.

Earlier in the day, anti-Kavanaugh protesters converged on a demonstration supporting the nominee as police kept the two sides separated.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley apologized earlier Thursday to Ford and Kavanaugh for threats their families have dealt with since she levied sexual assault charges against the nominee, calling those threats “a poor reflection of civility” in U.S. society. 

Minutes later, though, he criticized ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the panel’s Democratic members for not asking Kavanaugh about the allegations during his weeks-long confirmation process that included private meetings. He also dinged Democrats for opting against participating in the GOP side’s investigation of Ford’s allegations and those of other women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman Charles E. Grassley speaks to Christine Blasey Ford as Sen. Dianne Feinstein listens at a hearing on allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)
Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman Charles E. Grassley speaks to Christine Blasey Ford as Sen. Dianne Feinstein listens at a hearing on allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

[Three Takeaways from Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony]

Feinstein and Grassley soon sparred over when and who should introduce Ford, a less-than-civil moment.

Feinstein said Grassley and Republicans have ensured senators are moving forward “blindly” toward a judgement on the accusations. She again criticized Republicans for not requesting the White House — as George H.W. Bush did in the early 1990s for Anita Hill’s charges against Clarence Thomas — order the FBI to look into Ford’s charges.

Watch: Christine Blasey Ford’s Full Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee

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“We’re here to decide whether to evaluate this nominee,” she said, calling it a “question of character” and advising Republicans “this is not a trial of Dr. Ford.”

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party 36 years ago, testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 27, 2018. / POOL / SAUL LOEB
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. (Saul Loeb/POOL)

As Ford began reading her prepared opening statement, she described herself as “terrified.”

In her written testimony, which she read aloud, Ford describes an incident in the summer of 1982 at a high school house gathering with a handful of boys and girls. Ford says she had “one beer” but Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were “visibly drunk.”

[Protesters Invoke Lie Detectors, Saint Michael Outside Kavanaugh Hearing]

As she did in a letter to the committee and a Sept. 16 Washington Post article, she recounts Kavanaugh and Judge trapping her in an upstairs bedroom where Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her against her will. “I believed he was going to rape me,” she said.

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as Senators, from left, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)
From left, Republican Sens. Ben Sasse, Ted Cruz, Bill Lee and John Cornyn listen as special counsel Rachel Mitchell questions Ford. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

Ford told the committee her biggest concern during the alleged incident was Kavanaugh might “accidentally” kill her as he covered her mouth to stifle her screams. (The word “accidentally” was underlined in a copy of the testimony released Wednesday evening.)

Ford appeared visibly nervous, taking deep breaths as Grassley and Feinstein spoke. Her voice cracked as she spoke, and she repeatedly seemed to be fighting back tears as she described the alleged assault.

As she rose to be sworn in, Ford appeared confused, and a member of her camp had to explain that she needed to raise her right hand as the chairman administered an oath.

[The Ford Hearing in Photos

Threats since she came forward have “rocked me to my core,” Ford said. She revealed her work email was hacked and messages sent recanting her charges, and her personal information and that of her parents were made public.

Ford told the committee she experienced anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms after what she says was a sexual assault carried out by Kavanaugh.

Asked by Feinstein how she could be sure it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, Ford responded, “The same way I’m talking to you — basic memory functions.”

Ford again grew emotional when she told Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., that indelible in her brain “is the laughter,” saying she vividly recalls Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge “having fun at my expense“ during the alleged incident.

After Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin criticized the committee’s response to Ford’s allegation as the panel prepared for its first break, Grassley said sharply, “There were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation, and her privacy would have been protected,” he said referring to the span between Feinstein receiving a confidential letter and Ford going public.

“We should have investigated it,” Grassley said before banging his gavel for a short break.

Asked by a reporter whether she found Ford’s testimony credible, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, considered a key vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, replied: “Thus far.”

When the hearing took a break for a floor vote early in the afternoon, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters that whether or not senators believed Ford was not the standard that had to be met.

“It’s not about ‘Do I believe her?’” Graham told reporters. “It’s is the allegation against Brett Kavanaugh corroborated in any significant detail? Is his denial any less believable than her accusation?”

 Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch stopped short of saying he found Ford’s testimony credible, but he did cause a stir when he referred to the witness as “attractive.”

Hatch told CNN it was “too early to say” if Ford is credible, but also added, “I don’t think she’s uncredible. I think she an attractive, good witness.”

When pressed on what he meant by “attractive,” Hatch responded: “In other words, she’s pleasing.”

Hatch’s spokesman Matt Whitlock had to clarify what Hatch meant as his choice of words was criticized.

“Hatch uses ‘attractive’ to describe personalities, not appearances,” he wrote. “If you search his past quotes you’ll see he’s used it consistently for years for men and women he believed has compelling personalities.”

Watch: Senate Buildings Crowded With Protests For and Against Kavanaugh as Blasey Ford Testifies

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