Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley tried to keep order during Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, but there were several interruptions.
WASHINGTON – It was a day filled with emotion and fury.
The nation’s capital was the epicenter of a day-long hearing set to air out sexual assault allegations lodged by Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
There were tears. There was screaming. There was lots of political bickering. But, in the end, the hearing could be the deciding factor on whether Kavanaugh is appointed to the nation’s highest court.
Here are some of the biggest moments from Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:
Ford says she is ‘100 percent’ certain it was Kavanaugh
Much has been argued about Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh that he held her down and tried to remove her clothes at a party in 1982 when they were both in high school.
Republicans – and Kavanaugh himself – have found themselves in a tough place, unable to attack a possible trauma survivor. Many have, instead, alleged Ford may have indeed been sexually assaulted but had mistaken that it was Kavanaugh who attacked her.
Ford took this on during Thursday’s hearing and told the committee she was absolutely certain it was Kavanaugh.
Responding to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about how certain she was that it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, Ford looked directly at him and said, “100 percent.”
The question was followed by a late-night revelation Wednesday Republicans that two men claimed they, not Kavanaugh assaulted Ford.
‘You will not drive me out,’ Kavanaugh declares
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is calling certain allegations against him a “joke” and a “farce.” (Sept. 27)
Kavanaugh gave testimony shortly after Ford was finished. He started off with an opening statement filled with fury and a clear message for Democrats.
He accused liberals of orchestrating the accusations, both Ford’s and the other women who have come forward with allegations of misconduct, as a “political hit” on him.
He angrily called out Democrats for comments they’d previously made over the confirmation process, painting him as “evil” and America’s “worst nightmare.”
He called the comments scare tactics, but said they wouldn’t work.
Kavanaugh clenched his face and angrily addressed Democrats: “You tried hard. You’ve given it your all.”
But, he added, “your coordinated effort” to “destroy my name and my family” will not work.
“You will not drive me out,” he said.
He continued: “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit.”
Ford remembers ‘the laughter. The uproarious laughter’
Ford’s emotional testimony was filled with questions about how she remembered a decades-old event so vividly.
She was asked multiple times by both Democrats and the sex crimes prosecutor asking questions on behalf of Republicans’ about specifics of the alleged assault.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said many people were focused on what Ford could not remember about that night but she wanted to know what Ford could not forget.
Ford said she remembered details of the house where the alleged assault took place and then appeared to fight back emotion as she added, “The laughter. The uproarious laughter. And the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.”
Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., also asked her about her strongest memory from the alleged assault.
“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” the psychology professor said. “And their having fun at my expense.”
While testifying about sexual allegations made against him, an emotional Brett Kavanaugh said his 10-year-old daughter suggested they pray together for his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
Kavanaugh gave an emotional testimony. He described his family, how these allegations had destroyed his life and how the effects of this process would ripple on forever.
He talked about his two daughters, Margaret and Eliza, and his wife Ashley.
“I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford,” Kavanaugh told the committee, starting to break down in tears. “The other night, Ashley and my daughter Eliza said their prayers, and little Eliza, all of 10 years old, said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old.”
Kavanaugh was forced to pause as he tried to fight back crying. Several times throughout the hearing, he stopped and had to use tissues. He broke down talking about his father and friends who have been dragged into the “circus” this whole process has become, he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s fiery rebuke of Democrats
Senator Lindsey Graham turns his anger on the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing.
An angry Sen. Lindsey Graham lashed out at Democrats during the hearing, yelling that the allegations made against the judge are a “sham” before turning to ask Kavanaugh a very direct question.
“Are you a gang rapist?” the South Carolina Republican asked loudly of Kavanaugh.
“No,” Kavanaugh replied flatly.
Graham said Kavanaugh has nothing to apologize for and turned his anger on the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us,” he said, looking at his fellow senators. “What you want is you want to destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020.”
Pressure to ask White House for FBI investigation
Senator Dick Durbin asks plainly, “Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation, right now?”
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was backed into a corner during his testimony Thursday about sexual assault accusations when a Democratic senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed him to request an FBI investigation.
Kavanaugh was urged repeatedly by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Il., to turn to White House counsel Don McGahn, who was sitting in the front row and request the FBI investigate these claims and clear his name.
“I’ve got a suggestion for you,” Durbin told Kavanaugh, pointing to McGahn. “Ask him to suspend this hearing and nomination process until the FBI completes its investigation of the charges made by Dr. Ford and others.”
He continued: “Turn to Don McGahn and tell him it’s time to get this done.”
As Kavanaugh was about to reply, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, furiously took over. “Stop the clock!” an exasperated Grassley said. “This committee is running this hearing. Not the White House. Not Don McGahn. Not even you as a nominee.”
Regardless, Durbin continued to urge Kavanaugh to voice his support for an FBI investigation, something that Democrats have been pushing for since Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh.
“Personally, do you think that’s the best thing for us to do,” Durbin asked of the committee asking the FBI to investigate.
Kavanaugh crossed his arms in front of him at the table. He sat stone-faced, looking directly at Durbin in silence in a standoff for several seconds before saying he wanted a hearing immediately after the accusations surfaced and blamed Democrats for holding onto Ford’s allegations and dropping them at the last minute.
‘I am no one’s pawn,’ Ford says
Christine Blasey Ford says she is certain she did not mistakenly identify Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as her attacker at a party when they were both in high school more than 30 years ago. (Sept. 27)
During Ford’s testimony, she explained how difficult his life has been since coming forward about the allegations.
She said that the “last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life.” She said she’s had to relive the trauma and watch her “life picked apart.”
Ford said there have been conspiracy theories and she’s been “accused of acting out of partisan political motives.” Ford strongly disputed that assertion.
“I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life,” she said.
Confirmation process has become a ‘circus’
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has told a Senate panel that his family and his name “have been totally and permanently destroyed.” (Sept. 27)
Both Republicans and Democrats have admitted the confirmation process has been unfair to both Kavanaugh and Ford, whose personal lives have been cast in the spotlight.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” Kavanaugh said with anger. He continued, focusing on the many conspiracy theories and “crazy” accusations that have surfaced, including him being in a gang and being the father to a secret child.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election,” he told the committee. “This is a circus.”
Kavanaugh told the committee it won’t be just his confirmation that is affected by this chaotic process
“The consequences will extend long past my nomination,” Kavanaugh said. “The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competence in good people of all political persuasions from serving our country.”
Kavanaugh said his life has been changed forever because of these allegations and how they were handled by the committee.
“I may never be able to teach again,” he said, adding he might not be able to continue coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
‘I believed he was going to rape me’
There were several powerful moments in Ford’s opening remarks, including intimate details about the summer 1982 night when she “met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me.”
She said that when Kavanaugh climbed on her, she “believed he was going to rape me.”
She said when he put his hand over mouth, it was hard for her to breathe and that she thought “Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
Ford and Kavanaugh didn’t watch testimony
Both Ford and Kavanaugh did not watch one another’s emotional testimony Thursday.
After Ford left the Dirksen Senate Office Building, she did not watch the more than three hours of testimony by Kavanaugh, lawyers for her told USA TODAY.
Kavanaugh was also asked about this during his testimony.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., questioned whether Kavanaugh watched Ford’s powerful testimony earlier in the day.
“I did not,” he said. “I planned to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”
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