What happened at the Brett Kavanaugh-Christine Blasey Ford hearings

 (Michael Reynolds/Pool Image via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Emotionally battling to rescue his Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday denied allegations that he'd sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when both were high school students and told Congress the accusations and biting criticism by Democrats had "totally and permanently destroyed" his family and reputation.

Sometimes showing anger, other times fighting back tears, the conservative jurist launched a bristling attack on the "national disgrace" of his treatment by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Referring to the Constitution's charge to senators in confirming high officials, he said, "You have replaced 'advice and consent' with 'search and destroy."

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He vowed to continue his effort to join the high court, to which President Donald Trump nominated him in July. Now a judge in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, he seemed assured of confirmation until Ford and several other accusers emerged in recent weeks. He has denied all of the accusations, but it remained unclear how the dramatic testimony by Ford and Kavanaugh would affect his prospects.

"You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit, never," he said.

Shortly before, Ford had told the same senators that she was "100 percent" certain a drunken young Kavanaugh was the one who had pinned her to a bed, tried to remove her clothes and clapped a hand over her mouth as she tried to yell for help. A Kavanaugh friend stood by and they both laughed uproariously during the incident, she testified.

In her three hours of testimony, Ford's tone was polite but firm as she detailed her accusations but offered no major new revelations. Rachel Mitchell, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona who asked all questions for the committee's all-male GOP senators, seemed to elicit no significant inconsistencies in her testimony.

Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified under sworn oath.

Kavanaugh, 53, struggled to hold back tears, particularly when he referred to his own family.

Asked about drinking in high school, he said he had, sometimes to excess. "I like beer," he said, but he also said he'd never passed out and never attacked Ford. "I have never done this to her or to anyone," he said.

The mood was intense as Kavanaugh's voice filled the room for the extraordinary session, unlike Ford's quiet testimony. Senators watched intently, the only sound the clicking of cameras. In the front row, family and friends quietly cried including his wife, Ashley, whose lips were trembling.

In an election-season battle being waged along a polarized nation's political and cultural fault lines, Trump and most Republicans have rallied behind Kavanaugh, whose confirmation would provide a chance to cement the conservative majority of the court for a generation.

Republicans have accused Ford and the other women of making unproven allegations and have questioned why they'd not publicly revealed them for decades.

Among the television viewers on Thursday was Trump, who has mocked the credibility of Kavanaugh's accusers. The president watched aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington from the United Nations, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

During a break in the hearing, some of Kavanaugh's strongest supporters gave no indications of wavering.

"You need more than an accusation for evidence. You need corroboration. That's what's missing here," said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said of Ford, "She's a good witness. She's articulate, an attractive person."

Ford, now 51, has said of Kavanaugh, "I believed he was going to rape me."

Asked by Patrick Leahy of Vermont for her strongest memory of the alleged incident, Ford mentioned the two boys' "laughter — the uproarious laughter between the two and they're having fun at my expense."

When the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, asked how she could be sure that Kavanaugh was the attacker, Ford said, "The same way I'm sure I'm talking to you right now." Later, she told Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that her certainty was "100 percent."

The California psychology professor spoke carefully and deliberately during the hearing, using scientific terminology at one point to describe how a brain might remember details of events decades later. The boys' laughter was "indelible in the hippocampus," she said, using her scientific expertise to describe how memories are stored in the brain and adding, "It's locked in there."

Ford has said Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge was also in the room when she was assaulted. Judge has said he doesn't remember the incident and has declined to appear before the panel.

She also recounted how the alleged attack altered her life, describing anxiety and claustrophobia that prompted her to demand adding a second front door when her home was remodeled. She also described nervousness while flying.

The Judiciary panel's 11 Republicans — all men — let Rachel Mitchell, a Phoenix prosecutor, ask their questions. She began by expressing sympathy for Ford, who'd said she was "terrified" to testify. Said Mitchell, "I just wanted to let you know, I'm very sorry. That's not right."

Mitchell led Ford through a detailed recollection of the events she says occurred on the day of the alleged incident. But under the committee's procedures, the career prosecutor was limited to five minutes at a time, interspersed between Democrats' questions, creating a choppy effect as she tried piecing together the story.

Mitchell's questions steered clear of the details of the alleged assault and focused at times on whether Ford was coordinating with Kavanaugh opponents. Mitchell asked who was financing her legal and security expenses. Ford responded that she had gotten help from well-to-do people back home and was aware of public contributions at the website GoFundMe.com but also said she'd not focused on such matters amid her family's recent moves due to threats.

Kavanaugh's teetering grasp on winning confirmation was evident when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, expressed concern, in a private meeting with senators Wednesday, about a new, third accuser, according to a person with knowledge of the gathering. Republicans control the Senate 51-49 and can lose only one vote. Collins is among the few senators who've not made clear how they'll vote.

Collins walked into that meeting carrying a copy of Julie Swetnick's signed declaration, which included fresh accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh and his high school friend Judge.

Republicans are pushing to seat Kavanaugh before the November midterms, when Senate control could fall to the Democrats and a replacement Trump nominee could have even greater difficulty.

In a sworn statement, Swetnick said she witnessed Kavanaugh "consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women in the early 1980s." Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, who also represents a porn actress who is suing Trump, provided her sworn declaration to the Judiciary panel.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they attended Yale University, raised her profile in a round of television interviews.

Kavanaugh referred repeatedly Thursday to detailed calendar pages he had provided from the summer of 1982 when he was 17 years old — exams, movies, sports and plenty of parties. That's the year when Ford says she believes the assault occurred.

Nothing on the calendar appears to refer to her.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
JR Cosgrove
1 year 9 months ago

It will depend on your politics what you believe. A Republican is accused and Democrats will believe it. A Democrat is accused and Democrats will not believe it. And vice versa.

JR Cosgrove
1 year 9 months ago

My problem had to do with the vagueness of the so called event/party. How many people? Only six total I heard of and 3 named people deny it including her good friend. By the way her good friend has close ties to high levels of the Democratic party. Seems like a strange gathering for a freshman in high school going into her sophomore year. Did they have other ties, friends, country club, vacation place etc? My other problem is the timing of the revelation. It seems it's was always meant to be a last second surprise. All suspicious.

Margaret Gust
1 year 9 months ago

My politics have nothing to do with it. I am unaffiliated, have been since 1972. I am female but I don't believe this woman. Memory is not reliable and as a psychologist she should know that. This is a hideous spectacle that makes our country look uncivilized. What does teenaged groping have to do with a SCOTUS seat? She was at the party - no one forced her to be there. At 15 years of age, she knew what she doing going to a house with no adults around, just boys, other girls and lots of booze and probably other substances. She chose to be there as did the other girls - for the same reason the boys were, to get buzzed or drunk, have a sex play and then claim they were drunk, so not responsible. Why is everyone, including the Jesuits who publish America, so quick to believe her? Being female does not endow her with impeccable integrity. "I thought he was going to rape me" is now all it takes to destroy a man's life in this country, even if the woman waits 35 years to open her mouth. There is no proof he was even there and he looks thousands of other guys, so it is possible it was not him. She doesn't remember the address, who owned the home, etc., just that it was Kavanaugh and Judge - that is not credible at all. 15 years old and at a teen-only booze party - why is she given so much clout?

Nora Bolcon
1 year 9 months ago

"Ford has said Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge was also in the room when she was assaulted. Judge has said he doesn't remember the incident and has declined to appear before the panel."

I don't remember laughing while my friend violently tried to rape a young woman in front of me? Sure that is likely. Everyone forgets that kind of trivial stuff.

This pretty much says it all for me - I think Judge remembers but does not want to testify to what he took part in. People don't forget their friend violently trying to rape someone and laughing with him about it. That is, unless these two did this act so frequently together, and to so many different women, Judge just can't remember the one time it involved Ford.

Equally creepy:

"Collins walked into that meeting carrying a copy of Julie Swetnick's signed declaration, which included fresh accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh and his high school friend Judge."

Does this not seem like a couple of guys completely comfortable with raping women?

Dionys Murphy
1 year 9 months ago

The behavior outlined by Ford, Swetnick and as days go on likely by others seems completely in keeping with the character traits of entitled, spoiled private school boys who have now become entitled, spoiled lawyers that know they can get away with abuse. Kavanaugh suggests that he will lose the seat because of these accusations, suggesting a sense of entitlement as though it was already his before the hearings. He does not realize that one has to earn not only the nomination but the appointment. Which he has not done.

K Byrne
1 year 9 months ago

It is gratifying to see that you do not have any preconceived ideas or prejudice towards "entitled" school boys. God forbid that an entitled school girl (Dr. Ford spent the day at the country club diving into the pool). Please reflect on your ingrained prejudice and open your eyes.

E.Patrick Mosman
1 year 9 months ago

"I think Judge remembers" What you think about anything that allegedly happened is meaningless and there is no factual
basis for your opinion.
"Does this not seem like a couple of guys completely comfortable with raping women?" Absolutely not, more like a ranting
of a creepy woman.

J Jones
1 year 9 months ago

Another thing that happened was Judge Kavanaugh asked two senators, Do you drink beer? Do you black out? I want to know about your drinking habits.

I think THAT revealed an adult personality which should disqualify ANYone from ANY judgeship.

KATHERIN MARSH
1 year 9 months ago

Ford was sexually assaulted. Kavanaugh didn't do it.

Dionys Murphy
1 year 9 months ago

Ford was assaulted. She named Kavanaugh. As a fully, well functioning and emotionally and psychologically healed and well person she can speak for herself. She doesn't need rape apologists who are too cowardly to call her a liar calling her a liar.

K Byrne
1 year 9 months ago

Your own rants about Dr. Ford are troubling and should trouble you too, but evidently they do not. No one condones the behavior alleged but that is beside the point. Just because Dr. Ford says something does not mean it is true. She represented she was so claustrophobic that she had to drive to Washington DC and thus postpone the testimony date. That was a lie. In fact, it was a knowing lie calculated to buy time prior to testifying. Not a check mark to credibility. More subtle was the perfectly fine demeanor during the testimony about the trauma of her life. That is not credible either. In fact, there are so many issues that one has to wonder about credibility -- not sincerity, but credibility, i.e. truthfulness. Please open you mind and consider such issues.

arthur mccaffrey
1 year 9 months ago

there are no winners in this tawdry debacle

J Jones
1 year 9 months ago

That is absolutely true. And a tragedy

J Jones
1 year 9 months ago

The guy is a hothead and the American Bar Association wrote the Committee tonight telling them to delay until the FBI investigates.

K Byrne
1 year 9 months ago

It is clear that you know not of what you speak. Kavanaugh has a decades long history of exemplary judicial behavior. Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. Picture the headline "J. Brookbank Is An Attempted Rapist" according to 35 year old charges. Picture yourself defending that charge, SIr. I look forward to seeing your calm, deliberate behavior as your reputation is savaged. Actually, lots of people would look you in the eye and say "Shut Up!" Think about it, Mr. Brookbank -- alleged rapist. Would you be upset?

Al Cannistraro
1 year 9 months ago

Here's a radical idea: Withdraw Kavanaugh's name and instead select somebody with broad bipartisan support -- not someone affiliated with an ideological group like The Federalist Society.

Stanley Kopacz
1 year 9 months ago

There is no bipartisanship. The Repubs have the power and they want to hardwire plutocracy for the next 30 years. This IS the Repub Apocalypse.

E.Patrick Mosman
1 year 9 months ago

The same can be said for the democrats who, with the support of the Republicans, put ultra-liberal Kagan and "Latino woman can make better judgments than a white male" Sotomayor on the Supreme Court.

Chuck Schumer told Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor that “your record on the bench” was “the best way to get a sense of what your record will be on the bench in the future.”
Your failure to apply the same criteria for Judge Kavanaugh is simply an obstructionist act and an example of rabid partisanship. As a Senator you represent all New Yorkers so treat Judge Kavanaugh as you did before
Your approach in Sotomayor's case was intended to hide her actual decision making process which she proudly and publicly outlined as the following examples show:

Here are quotes from a sitting Scotus Judge made before being nominated for and appointed to the Supreme Court.
These show a disrespect, even a disregard, for the Constitution which
all Judges swear to uphold by claiming that personal experiences,
gender, color and national origin override Constitutional law.
- “Yet,
because I accept the proposition that... "to judge is an exercise of
power" and because... "there is no objective stance but only a series of
perspectives-no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging," ….
- I further accept that..... experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions.
-
The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because
it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different
choices than others.
- enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging.
-Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences… our gender and national origins will make a difference in our judging.
-Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.
-I
simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging.
But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina
heritage.” End quotes.
"A Latina Judge's Voice" -- an address by Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Source: Berkeley La Raza Law Journal Volume 13 Number 1 (2002) Symposium 2002
This individual should never have been seated on the Supreme Court

Stanley Kopacz
1 year 9 months ago

I wish people off the street could ask questions. I'd ask "Have you ever changed your own tire?" "Have you ever been not covered by health insurance?" Answers wouldn't qualify or disqualify but it would show these cats come from another planet.

Stanley Kopacz
1 year 9 months ago

Kegenough drank when he was 17 and the legal age was 21. He was a lawbreaker. Which solidifies my opinion of most lawyers and judges. They don't give a flying fnarkbuckle about the law as Law. It's just a way to get money and power. That's all it ever was for Kegenough.

K Byrne
1 year 9 months ago

How old were you when you first drank? How old were you when you first broke the law? Do you live in a glass house?

James Haraldson
1 year 9 months ago

What happened is that a morally depraved pathological lying pro-abort contrived a way to sabotage the possibility of Supreme Court nominee from being voted onto the Court based on the possibility that he might not be sympathetic to the idea that women do not have a right to exterminate inconvenient unborn children. And the degenerate LGBTQSJ editors of America magazine reacted by telling her victim to withdraw his status as a nominee.

E.Patrick Mosman
1 year 9 months ago

Mrs Ford has been completely vague, I don't remember, about every aspect of the alleged day of the alleged assault by Judge Kavanaugh. These are the facts that FBI must determine first every detail of Mrs Ford's days at the club ,such as:
-how did you arrive at the club on the days you were there, parent drive you, friend drive you, walk, other?
How did you get home from the club on the days you there, parents pick you up,friend drive you home, walk, other?
How often did you go to a friend's house,shopping, party directly from the club? Daily, weekly several times a week?
On these day how did you advise your parents that you did not need to be picked up?
On average how many days a week did you hear about a party with boys and go to these house party directly from the club?
On the days you went to a house party directly did sleep over, go home, if home how,walk friend, taxi other?
Were these parties usually in the homes of friends or friends of friends which were large free standing houses or row houses?
On the day in question who told you about the party, how did you advise your parents, did that individual take you to the party alone or with others, walking, by car?
For the ill informed Mrs.Ford deleted all her social media accounts so that her recent life is a complete blank too. Is that the actions of an honest person seeking the truth?

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