Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday in Washington, followed by Kavanaugh, in a hearing that threatened to derail his nomination to the Supreme Court. Below are some of the most important moments in the hearing, in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top of the page.
C-SPAN’s live video of the hearing has come to an end, but the broadcaster has posted the opening statements of both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh on YouTube. Ford delivered her remarks almost exactly as written on Thursday morning.
Speaking after Ford’s affecting testimony, Kavanaugh abandoned the prepared remarks released beforehand and instead delivered a long, angry attack on the Democrats than was nearly three times as long as that of his accuser.
The hearing has now adjourned, but before it did Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, summed up his party’s strategy quite clearly, reminding his colleagues that a day of dueling testimonies, with no investigation, offered no clear evidence of who was lying. “There is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today,” Flake said. “There is doubt, we’ll never move beyond that.”
Sen. Flake: "In the end there is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today."
— ABC News (@ABC) September 27, 2018
As several observers have noted, Republican senators have reclaimed their time from Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor they brought in to conduct questioning on their behalf.
The sex-crimes prosecutor has discontinued asking questions of the person accused of sex crimes.
— Matt Pearce ? (@mattdpearce) September 27, 2018
Again: Why does the alleged victim have to be questioned by a prosecutor, but not the alleged perpetrator?
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) September 27, 2018
Rachel Mitchell is still here, in case you all were wondering pic.twitter.com/VxsnmEGtpS
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 27, 2018
The change in tactics came just after Mitchell zeroed in on Kavanaugh’s entry on his calendar for the night of Thursday, July 1, 1982.
Thursday, July 1, 1982: An entry in Kavanaugh's calendar with Mark Judge and "PJ," both named by Dr. Ford. There's no telling what this means – except that the calendar doesn't prove anything, one way or the other. pic.twitter.com/YRNHKe9VGD
— Josh Zeitlin (@josh_zeitlin) September 27, 2018
The entry recorded Kavanaugh’s plan to “Go to Timmy’s for Skis, w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi.”
The slang word “brewskis” was a common term for “brews” or beers in the 1980s, so this appears to be about a planned drinking session on the Thursday before the Fourth of July weekend.
In her prepared testimony, Christine Blasey Ford said that she was assaulted in the summer of 1982 at a house party attended by her friend Leland Ingham, as well as “Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P. J. Smyth and one other boy whose name I cannot recall.”
Kavanaugh’s calendar says that he was with Judge, and P.J. on July 1 that summer. In response to questioning from Rachel Mitchell, Kavanaugh said that “Squi” was a nickname for a high school friend, Chris Garrett.
A letter to the judiciary committee from Kavanaugh’s classmates at the Jesuit high school Georgetown Prep, attesting to his good character, includes the name Christopher Garrett.
Last week, a Republican operative named Ed Whelan suggested in a long Twitter thread that Ford might have been assaulted not by Kavanaugh but by the friend known as Squi, and argued that the attack described by Ford took place in a home that seemed to match the one inhabited by Squi at the time.
During questioning by Mitchell on Thursday, Ford said that she had been introduced to Kavanaugh and Judge by the boy known as Squi. Although she refused to identify him by name, to respect his privacy, Ford said that she and had socialized with the boy for a few months that year before the attack.
“He was somebody that, I will use the phrase ‘I went out with,'” Ford said. “I wouldn’t say ‘date.’ I would say ‘went out with’ for a few months. That was how we termed it at the time.”
“He also was a member of the same country club, and I knew his younger brother as well.”
So, far from establishing his innocence, Kavanaugh’s handwritten calendar appears to offer a possible date for a binge drinking session on which the assault could plausibly have taken place.
I missed this before, but I was just looking at Kavanaugh’s calendar, and I noticed that he’s hanging out on July 1, among a few other people, with “PJ” and “Judge.”
Pretty amazing coincidence that Ford, before she saw the calendars, said PJ and Mark Judge were there. pic.twitter.com/8lXwiROHiO
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) September 27, 2018
In her testimony, Ford also said that she ran into Mark Judge about six to eight weeks after the attack while he was working in a local supermarket. If Judge worked at the supermarket in August of 1982, an attack on the first night of July that year would be consistent with the timeline of Ford’s recollection.
From Kavanaugh's calendar:
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) September 27, 2018
Several observers have expressed frustration with the Democrats for wasting their time by calling for Kavanaugh to endorse an FBI investigation instead of asking him more probing questions.
Here is the question I would ask Kavanaugh about Mark Judge: Imagine you are a judge in a murder trial. The key witness who was alleged to be present refuses to testify, files a statement.Would you agree to accept that statement without any testimony, incl cross-examination?
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) September 27, 2018
It remains remarkable that Kavanaugh has been allowed to repeat again and again that Christine Blasey Ford’s high school friend Leland Keyser had “refuted” her account of the party she was assaulted at. Viewers of this hearing would have no idea that Keyser had in fact told The Washington Post while she does not recall the event, she believes Ford’s allegation.
Senators have also failed to tackle Kavanaugh’s bizarre claim that his calendar notes from the time are in any way a complete record of his activities in the summer of 1982.
My colleague Akela Lacy has video of Sen. Chuck Grassley saying, during a recess, that Kavanaugh’s emotional tone is to be expected, given the “extreme charges” against him.
.@ChuckGrassley on what he thinks of “all the emotion in the room today”: “…with extreme charges and how everybody has been hurt and everything, you’d expect there to be a lot of emotion” pic.twitter.com/VT0SBel7gS
— Akela Lacy (@akela_lacy) September 27, 2018
It is increasingly obvious that the Republican strategy is to frame the accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford as a teenager as an unsolvable mystery — calling it an “uncorroborated” claim, despite refusing to call a named witness — in which both are victims and no one should be treated as guilty.
After Kavanaugh said under oath that the terms “boofed” and “Devil’s Triangle” on his Yearbook page referred to flatulence and a drinking game, a New York Times reporter, David Enrich, said that his high school classmates had said otherwise.
Based on extensive interviews by me and @katekelly with Kavanaugh's former Georgetown Prep classmates, what he just said about the meanings of "boofed" and "Devil's Triangle" is not true.
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) September 27, 2018
Enrich has not yet elaborated on what the classmates said the terms mean, but it appears that someone just edited a Wikipedia entry for one of the terms to include Kavanaugh’s definition from a computer with an IP address in Congress.
A House of Reps IP address edits 'Devil's Triangle' entry on Wikipedia to include Brett Kavanaugh's claim that it's a drinking game https://t.co/3GOA49o2oO
— Jane C. Timm (@janestreet) September 27, 2018
Asked by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, if his high school yearbook reference to being in a “Ralph Club” was a reference to vomiting from alcohol, Kavanaugh refuses to answer directly but says he’s known among his friends for having a weak stomach. As Whitehouse presses him to say if the vomiting was the result of drinking too much, Kavanaugh says, “I like beer.” He then interrupts the senator, badgering him to say, “What do you like to drink? Senator, what do you like to drink?”
Kavanaugh tries heckling Sen Whitehouse: Do you like beer? Senator what do you like to drink? What do you like to drink? pic.twitter.com/UwMLA8M7uN
— Medicaid Matt B sCary ? (@mattbc) September 27, 2018
Kavanaugh, perhaps inspired by President Trump’s strategy of throwing caution to the wind, acts the same way in response to questions about his history of drinking from Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar asks Brett Kavanaugh if he has ever blacked out from drinking, and he turns the question back on her.
Kavanaugh: "You are asking about a blackout. I don't know. Have you?"
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 27, 2018
Kavanaugh just demanded that SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR tell whether she's ever blacked out from drinking. What an unbelievable bully.
— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) September 27, 2018
The hearing goes into recess again. To step back for a moment, the nakedly partisan nature of Kavanaugh’s behavior is remarkable. If he manages to get onto the court, he will have done so by abandoning all pretense of political neutrality.
Pressed to agree to an F.B.I. investigation to clear his name by Sen. Dick Durbin, Kavanaugh refuses to do so.
Lindsey Graham then takes over the questioning, deciding not to cede his time to the prosecutor hired by the Republicans. He launches an impassioned defense of Kavanaugh, claiming that there is no basis for the allegations against him. With rage, he accuses the Democrats of using Christine Blasey Ford to destroy Kavanaugh’s reputation. The allegation appears to be part of a Republican strategy to claim that both Ford and Kavanaugh are victims of a Democratic plot.
“Boy you all want power,” Lindsey Graham says to the Democrats on the committee, “God I hope you never get it.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham to committee Democrats: "This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics…Boy, y'all want power. Boy, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham, that you knew about it and you held it." pic.twitter.com/NnpcF33smC
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh continues his aggressive, partisan strategy after the break by repeatedly interrupting and arguing with Sen. Patrick Leahy, and manages to evade giving a straight answer to the question of whether or not the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” character in Mark Judge’s memoir is based on him.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) September 27, 2018
Kavanaugh also dismissed Judge’s memoir as fiction, a claim not borne out by the book itself, as my colleague Peter Maass points out.
Brett Kavanaugh just said Mark Judge's book, "Wasted," is fictionalized. A note at the beginning of the book says, "This book is based on actual experiences. In some cases, the names and details have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved." pic.twitter.com/xRwYA39efD
— Peter Maass (@maassp) September 27, 2018
Officially, this hearing is a kind of job interview for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, but Brett Kavanaugh seems quite aware that his real task is to appeal to the partisan sentiments of Republican voters and the Republican senators who can confirm him as well as the watching, reality show president who could still withdraw his nomination and pick someone less tainted.
To that end, he abandons all pretense of presenting himself as a calm, rational person who could be entrusted with acting as a a neutral judge, and has even taken to interrupting and shouting at Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat in the committee.
NEW: Sen. Dianne Feinstein questioning Brett Kavanaugh: "What you're saying, if I understand it, is that the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick are wrong." Brett Kavanaugh: "The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce." https://t.co/tLzPhvuPlY pic.twitter.com/pvl0Cm8Bsq
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) September 27, 2018
It remains to be seen how that strategy will play out to the nationwide audience, gripped by the hearing.
basically everyone on my flight is watching the Kavanaugh hearing pic.twitter.com/NK0FE25grJ
— Rebecca Rubin (@rebeccaarubin) September 27, 2018
— Amanda Aronczyk (@aronczyk) September 27, 2018
If Brett Kavanaugh were a woman, they’d be calling this performance “hysterical.”
— shauna (@goldengateblond) September 27, 2018
In response to questions from Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor questioning Kavanaugh on behalf of the Republicans, the nominee denies that he ever blacked out from drinking. He does, however, admit that he at times fell asleep after drinking.
He categorically denies ever having any sexual encounter with Christine Blasey Ford, and rules out the possibility that he might have done so while so inebriated that he would not remember.
Brett Kavanaugh whines that he may never be able to coach girls basketball again. pic.twitter.com/AfEzZoNnDU
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) September 27, 2018
Choking back tears, Kavanaugh claims that all of the yearbook references that portray his high school years as fueled with alcohol and debauchery were merely attempts to “go along with” a false image of his school days he and his friends concocted to fit in with the prevailing culture of the time.
Kavanaugh seems to joke that while he drank beer in high school, and still “drinks beer,” he has never blacked out as a result and is sure that he “never sexually assaulted anyone.”
Brett Kavanaugh: "I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone." pic.twitter.com/ePO8Nv5q1M
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2018
Kavanaugh continues to cite the notations on his high school calendar as proof that he could not have assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, since there is no mention of “the group of people that Dr. Ford has identified.”
Brett Kavanaugh: "If the party described by Dr. Ford happened in the summer of 1982 on a weekend night, my calendar shows all but definitively that I was not there." pic.twitter.com/7VqjGJj6Hj
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2018
“Keep in mind that my calendars were diaries of sorts,” Kavanaugh says. He ignores the obvious fact that his calendars do not appear to be anything like the complete accounting of his activities that we know of, based on his own yearbook boasts of frequent, regular binge drinking.
Kavanaugh boasted in his yearbook that he and his friend took part in drinking 100 kegs of beer in 1982-1983; if those binge drinking sessions we know took place are not noted in his calendars, they are not a full record of his activities. https://t.co/PNiNrGyacd
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) September 23, 2018
Later in his opening remarks, Kavanaugh claimed that Christine Blasey Ford’s friend, Leland Keyser, “refuted” her account of the party she was assaulted at by Brett Kavanaugh. In fact, Keyser has only said that she does not recall the event but believes Ford’s allegation.
The hearing has resumed. Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in and had decided to not read his prepared statement but veers into a starkly partisan attack on the Democrats and the media, perhaps aware that his main audience is a president who has also been credibly accused of sexual assault. It is frankly hard to see how this is a good audition for a job as an impartial judge.
Among other things, Kavanaugh claims that the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault and harassment are part of a smear campaign “fueled with pent up anger abut President Trump on the 2016 election.”
Kavanaugh: "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…revenge on behalf of the Clintons…This is a circus" pic.twitter.com/sEOy9PDZBD
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2018
Nearly shouting, he also claims that the attacks on his character are “revenge for the Clintons,” a reference to his role in aggressively investigating Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky as a prosecutor on the team of independent counsel Kenneth Starr. “This is a circus,” he adds.
The former Republican operative continues, “this confirmation process has become a national disgrace. You’ve replaced advise and consent with search and destroy.”
Kavanaugh also stresses that a female friend of Christine Blasey Ford said that she did not recall being at such a party with him. He failed to note that the woman, Leland Keyser, also told The Washington Post that although she did not recall the party, she was close friends with Ford and she believes Ford’s allegation.
The hearing is now in recess, before testimony from Brett Kavanaugh begins. Supporters and opponents of Kavanaugh are in evidence outside the hearing room.
Meet the Women for Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/E7mztPRmnt
— Monica Klein (@MonicaCKlein) September 27, 2018
My colleague Akela Lacy shares some video of a lone Kavanaugh supporter screaming obscenities into the void outside the hearing.
Meanwhile a far larger number of opponents of Kavanaugh, including organizers of the Women’s March, are rallying on the streets of Washington.
HAPPENING NOW: Thousands marching to Supreme Court, then Senate office buildings. Share and come join us. pic.twitter.com/YuX78JcFEQ
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) September 27, 2018
— Women's March (@womensmarch) September 27, 2018
One remarkable result of the nationwide attention to Ford’s testimony on Thursday has been that sexual assault survivors have been coming forward to share their stories with family members and even C-SPAN.
Brenda from Missouri calls C-SPAN
"I'm a 76-year-old woman who was sexually molested in 2nd grade. This brings back so much pain. Thought I was over it but it's not. You will never forget it. You get confused & you don't understand it but you never forget what happened to you." pic.twitter.com/uCgroeQ4B5
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 27, 2018
Fox News' CHRIS WALLACE says in wake of Kavanaugh allegations "two of my daughters have told me stories that I have never heard before about things that happened in high school & hadn't told their parents… I don't this we can disregard Ford and the seriousness of this." pic.twitter.com/5lKaTDo9Cy
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2018
The hearing is in recess for lunch. Ford’s obvious credibility as a victim of sexual assault seems to be inflicting damage on the Republican willingness to press ahead with Kavanaugh’s nomination, according to Washington reporters.
Unsolicited text from a GOP source:
'There's no way we can go forward with this nomination hearing this account. It's brutal.'
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiPrzybyla) September 27, 2018
—->> The view of a New England Republican. https://t.co/cmQvDCbx4U
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) September 27, 2018
. @RickSantorum just now: Dr. Ford comes across as very authentic…this is a problem for Brett Kavanaugh
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) September 27, 2018
Person close to Trump says Trump is raging at how bad this has been for Republicans so far. Trump told people Ford “seems credible,” per source
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) September 27, 2018
This is Trump’s worst nightmare: a TV moment going badly for him that’s completely out of his control
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) September 27, 2018
"[Ford] is extremely credible and Rachel Mitchell is not laying a glove on her… the president cannot be happy with this." — Judge Napolitano (a Trump favorite) on Fox News (which Trump surely is watching).
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) September 27, 2018
There are also questions about the bizarre spectacle of the all-male panel of Republican senators on the committee watching mutely as their time for questions has been ceded to a female prosecutor.
The facial expressions on the Republican side of the dais is very interesting to observe. pic.twitter.com/NQbADRCB23
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 27, 2018
Outside the hearing room, things do not seem to be going any better for the Republican senators.
Happened in a gaggle of reporters, and another woman amd I shared an unmistakable “did he really say that?” look afterward.
— Kate Irby (@kateirby) September 27, 2018
A woman just told @LindseyGrahamSC she was raped. He said, as he headed into an elevator, "I'm sorry. Tell the cops."
— Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain) September 27, 2018
Chuck Grassley: "I don't think I can make any comments at all today, maybe it's something I ought to sleep on. This is pretty important. We ought to be thinking about it a lot and not making hasty comments." #KavanaughHearings pic.twitter.com/iwwN4LwA39
— The Hill (@thehill) September 27, 2018
Shortly before the hearing began, a lawyer representing Debbie Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Brett Kavanaugh who claims that he exposed himself to her during a drunken dorm-room party, posted a message of support on Twitter.
From Debbie Ramirez: "Thinking of you today, Christine. They want us to feel alone and isolated but I’m there wrapping my arms around you and I hope you feel the people of this nation wrapping their arms around all of us. Holding you up in spirit."
— John Clune (@CluneEsq) September 27, 2018
The lawyer, John Clune, wrote on Tuesday that “Ms. Ramirez is ready to swear to the FBI under penalty of perjury,” and asked why the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee was not willing to accept her testimony.
Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor from Arizona who is cross-examining Ford on behalf of the all-male panel of Republican senators, just brought up reports that Christine Blasey Ford has a fear of flying. Ford confirmed that she did but describes it as a fear that she copes with well enough to fly, albeit with some anxiety. It seems likely that Mitchell only brought this up as an attempt to somehow discredit Ford. Several of the prosecutor’s previous questions also seemed to be aimed at undercutting Ford’s credibility — like, for instance, pointing out that she had made some corrections to her written account during the polygraph test she took in August.
The issue of Ford’s fear of flying appears to have little relevance to the hearing, but it seems to have been a particular obsession among Trump supporters, including his son.
A professor of psychology that has a fear of flying that she can’t overcome for something this serious? Perhaps, but seems odd to me. I wonder how many times she’s flown in the past decade? https://t.co/WlNxXUHOqu
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 21, 2018
Ford’s lawyers unnecessarily damaged their and their client’s credibility by manufacturing the fear of flying story.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) September 27, 2018
Related? The flying bit is flashing atop Breitbart pic.twitter.com/C2sVPqzBqj
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) September 27, 2018
Before a break in the hearing, Christine Blasey Ford recalled that she ran into Mark Judge about six to eight weeks after the assault while he was working at the Potomac Village Safeway. Someone, she suggests, could establish roughly when the attack took place by finding out when Mark Judge worked there during high school.
Ford: I was going to Potomac Village Safeway. With my mother, I was a teenager. I chose wrong door. where Mark Judge looked like working there, arranging shopping carts. I said hello to him. & his face was white, & very uncomfortable saying hello back. &we had bn prvsly friendly
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) September 27, 2018
As Jane Mayer of The New Yorker notes, Mark Judge’s memoir of his days as a teenage alcoholic describe working at a supermarket.
Prof. Ford says She saw Mark Judge after the assault, working at Potomac Village Safeway. In Judge’s book, Wasted, p 93 he describes working”as a bag boy in a local supermarket.”
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) September 27, 2018
My colleague Peter Maass explains that Judge’s out-of-print memoir, “Wasted” chronicles “a history of drunken aggression toward women.” As Peter just noted, Judge’s book suggests he only worked at the supermarket for “a few weeks.”
Christine Blasey Ford said that a few weeks after Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her, she encountered Mark Judge at the Potomac Village Safeway where he worked. Judge had laughed during the assault, Ford said. In his memoir, "Wasted," Judge writes about working at the market in 1982. pic.twitter.com/BXb5NdnqAD
— Peter Maass (@maassp) September 27, 2018
Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy what she remembers most of the assault, Ford said: “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two — their having fun at my expense.”
"The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense." – Professor Christine Blasey Ford's response when asked about her strongest memory from the incident. pic.twitter.com/dYCflbJXXD
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 27, 2018
This seems to underscore Lili Loofbourow’s observation in Slate that “The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category — a toxic homosociality — that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.”
That observation resonated with other women watching the hearing.
I’ve been thinking that one reason these Kavanaugh stories are hitting me so hard is exactly this: The common thread in every alleged incident was turning a girl into a joke to bond with other guys https://t.co/mpoF2wTbLT
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) September 25, 2018
I was just walking outside the White House and a woman who looked to be in her 60s walked up to me and said, "I'm listening. She had me at laughter."
I stood there in shock. What a day for this nation.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) September 27, 2018
Responding to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ford says that she clearly remembers that it was Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted her. Asked if there is any chance that this is could have been a case of mistaken identity, Ford says “absolutely not.”
With her voice wavering at several points, Christine Blasey Ford recounted her memory of the assault by Brett Kavanaugh in more detail than had previously been reported. She also spoke movingly about how the trauma had impacted her life and explained her hesitation at coming forward.
"I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school" – Christine Blasey Ford gives testimony in #KavanaughHearings https://t.co/RGLhzWMovX pic.twitter.com/u2E6ST0EKt
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) September 27, 2018
“I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country,” Ford says. “Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community.”
“At the same time,” she continues, “my greatest fears have been realized, and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core.”
Ford also denies that she acted out of partisan political motives. “I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn,” she says. “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.”
Blasey Ford: "I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on and just pretend that it didn't happen. Over the years, I told very, very few friends that I had this traumatic experience." pic.twitter.com/lUCCl94pTI
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2018
One of the most distressing parts of Ford’s memory is the detail that she recalls Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge “drunkenly laughing during the attack.” Writing in Slate, Lili Loofbourow observed that “one of the more shocking things” about the allegations made by Ford and Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate, “is the extent to which the woman being mistreated exists in a room where the men are performing for each other—using the woman to firm up their own bond.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the most senior Democrat on the committee, rejected Grassley’s criticism of her actions — in refusing to make public Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation before she agreed to put her name to it — and called on the Republican majority to investigate the three other accusations. She also called for the committee to compel Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friend, Mark Judge, to testify about the alleged attack on her, which Ford said he witnessed and took part in.
As Feinstein was speaking, another member of the committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, tweeted a rebuttal to Grassley’s claim that there was no need for FBI to investigate the new claims of sexual assault and harassment against Kavanaugh.
At hearing. Re Chairman’s claims re FBI background checks: My experience has been that for a number of nominees they have withdrawn nominations or we have asked them to based solely on FBI check. FBI finds things out. The White House should let them do that here&finish their job
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) September 27, 2018
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s Republican chairman, opened the hearing with a long attack on the Democrats for not raising the allegation earlier, and by expressing equal sympathy for both the accuser, Ford, and the accused, Kavanaugh.
Sen. Grassley starts the Kavanaugh hearing: "Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have been through a terrible couple weeks. They and their families have received vile threats… So I want to apologize to you both for the way you've been treated." pic.twitter.com/HMzOIvfOqm
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) September 27, 2018
Grassley also made what seems to be a Freudian slip as he stumbles through his written remarks, describing the hearing as an “opportunity to prevent her allegations.”
Grassley’s remarks did not go over well with observers who want more respect to be shown to a woman who has accused a powerful man of sexual assault.
Somewhere in the state of Iowa, the woman who's going to challenge Chuck Grassley is watching this shameful performance. And she is mad as hell.
— Chloe Angyal (@ChloeAngyal) September 27, 2018
I watched the Anita Hill hearings from beginning to end. I cannot believe this shit is happening AGAIN nearly 30 years later.
This nasty white man sitting up on a dais like Cotton Mather … never changes apparently.
— digby (@digby56) September 27, 2018
Chuck Grassley is a vile human being for this. I can’t believe Dr. Ford has to sit through this. And every survivor (who chooses to) has to watch this.
This is why we don’t report.
— Alencia Johnson (@AlenciaJohnson) September 27, 2018
As we wait for the hearing to begin at the top of the hour, here is the complete text of Christine Blasey Ford’s opening statement, in which she says that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when she was 15 and he was 17:
Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, members of the committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford. I am a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina and earned my degree in experimental psychology in 1988. I received a master’s degree in 1991 in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. In 1996, I received a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Southern California. I earned a master’s degree in epidemiology from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2009.
I have been married to Russell Ford since 2002 and we have two children.
I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school. I have described the events publicly before. I summarized them in my letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, and again in my letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family.
I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I attended the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., from 1980 to 1984. Holton-Arms is an all-girls school that opened in 1901. During my time at the school, girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area, including Landon School, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga high school, country clubs, and other places where kids and their families socialized. This is how I met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me.
In my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time. I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended. We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me. In the summer of 1982, like most summers, I spent almost every day at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md., swimming and practicing diving.
One evening that summer, after a day of swimming at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Chevy Chase-Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P. J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I remember my friend Leland Ingham attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur of the moment gathering. I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place and so forth. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.
When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer that evening. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn’t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop. A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not.
During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. The last time he did this, we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. I waited and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that I had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after me.
Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened. Over the years, I told very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault. I had never told the details to anyone until May 2012, during a couples counseling session. The reason this came up in counseling is that my husband and I had completed an extensive remodel of our home, and I insisted on a second front door, an idea that he and others disagreed with and could not understand. In explaining why I wanted to have a second front door, I described the assault in detail. I recall saying that the boy who assaulted me could someday be on the U.S. Supreme Court and spoke a bit about his background. My husband recalls that I named my attacker as Brett Kavanaugh.
After that May 2012 therapy session, I did my best to suppress memories of the assault because recounting the details caused me to relive the experience, and caused panic attacks and anxiety. Occasionally, I would discuss the assault in individual therapy, but talking about it caused me to relive the trauma, so I tried not to think about it or discuss it. But over the years, I went through periods where I thought about Brett’s attack. I confided in some close friends that I had an experience with sexual assault. Occasionally, I stated that my assailant was a prominent lawyer or judge but I did not use his name. I do not recall each person I spoke to about Brett’s assault, and some friends have reminded me of these conversations since the publication of The Washington Post story on Sept. 16, 2018. But until July 2018, I had never named Mr. Kavanaugh as my attacker outside of therapy.
This all changed in early July 2018. I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh’s conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault.
On July 6, 2018, I had a sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the president as soon as possible before a nominee was selected. I called my congressional representative and let her receptionist know that someone on the president’s short list had attacked me. I also sent a message to The Washington Post’s confidential tip line. I did not use my name, but I provided the names of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. I stated that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted me in the 1980s in Maryland. This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I felt I couldn’t NOT do it. Over the next two days, I told a couple of close friends on the beach in California that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted me. I was conflicted about whether to speak out.
On July 9, 2018, I received a call from the office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo after Mr. Kavanaugh had become the nominee. I met with her staff on July 11 and with her on July 13, describing the assault and discussing my fear about coming forward. Later, we discussed the possibility of sending a letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, who is one of my state’s senators, describing what occurred. My understanding is that Representative Eshoo’s office delivered a copy of my letter to Senator Feinstein’s office on July 30, 2018. The letter included my name, but requested that the letter be kept confidential.
My hope was that providing the information confidentially would be sufficient to allow the Senate to consider Mr. Kavanaugh’s serious misconduct without having to make myself, my family or anyone’s family vulnerable to the personal attacks and invasions of privacy we have faced since my name became public. In a letter on Aug. 31, 2018, Senator Feinstein wrote that she would not share the letter without my consent. I greatly appreciated this commitment. All sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves whether their private experience is made public.
As the hearing date got closer, I struggled with a terrible choice: Do I share the facts with the Senate and put myself and my family in the public spotlight? Or do I preserve our privacy and allow the Senate to make its decision on Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination without knowing the full truth about his past behavior?
I agonized daily with this decision throughout August and early September 2018. The sense of duty that motivated me to reach out confidentially to The Washington Post, Representative Eshoo’s office, and Senator Feinstein’s office was always there, but my fears of the consequences of speaking out started to increase.
During August 2018, the press reported that Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation was virtually certain. His allies painted him as a champion of women’s rights and empowerment. I believed that if I came forward, my voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters. By the time of the confirmation hearings, I had resigned myself to remaining quiet and letting the committee and the Senate make their decision without knowing what Mr. Kavanaugh had done to me.
Once the press started reporting on the existence of the letter I had sent to Senator Feinstein, I faced mounting pressure. Reporters appeared at my home and at my job demanding information about this letter, including in the presence of my graduate students. They called my boss and coworkers and left me many messages, making it clear that my name would inevitably be released to the media. I decided to speak out publicly to a journalist who had responded to the tip I had sent to The Washington Post and who had gained my trust. It was important to me to describe the details of the assault in my own words.
Since Sept. 16, the date of The Washington Post story, I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community.
At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized — and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information on the internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls and threats. My family and I were forced to move out of our home. Since Sept. 16, my family and I have been living in various secure locales, with guards. This past Tuesday evening, my work email account was hacked and messages were sent out supposedly recanting my description of the sexual assault.
Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. 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, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.
I understand that the majority has hired a professional prosecutor to ask me some questions, and I am committed to doing my very best to answer them. At the same time, because the committee members will be judging my credibility, I hope to be able to engage directly with each of you.
At this point, I will do my best to answer your questions.
Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation, that Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge assaulted her when they were students at Georgetown Prep, a Catholic high school outside Washington, is the focus of Thursday’s hearing, but the Senate is also considering the claims of three other women who came forward this week with accusations of sexual harassment or assault involving Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer of The New Yorker revealed that a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, wanted the FBI to investigate her accusation that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her during a drunken dorm-room party.
On Wednesday, as my colleague Peter Maass reported, Michael Avenatti released a sworn declaration from a woman named Julie Swetnick, who said that that she had seen Kavanaugh and Judge “drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer. This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.” Swetnick also accused Kavanaugh and Judge of spiking punch “with drugs and/or grain alcohol so as to cause girls to lose their inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.” Kavanaugh and Judge, she said, were also present at a house party where she had been gang raped.
NBC reported on Wednesday that Kavanaugh was asked by Senate investigators about a fourth complaint, conveyed in an anonymous letter to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, in which a woman claimed that her daughter had witnessed Kavanaugh drunkenly assault a woman he socialized with in Washington in 1998, when he was a prosecutor for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton’s sex life.
As news of the latest accusations broke on Wednesday, reporters observed “an intense conversation” in the Senate basement between Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose pro-choice stance makes her one of the potential swing votes against Kavanaugh, who has publicly criticized the Roe v. Wade decision.
MURKOWSKI and FEINSTEIN huddling in Capitol basement. What are they talking about? pic.twitter.com/ouYjMa7kq4
— Bo Erickson (@BoKnowsNews) September 26, 2018
Murkowski didn’t have anything new for reporters afterward. Wouldn’t say if she has seen the new Avenatti allegation pic.twitter.com/loeA6RHd9J
— Sarah D. Wire (@sarahdwire) September 26, 2018