Here are live updates from the Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford testimony
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sat in front of a Senate committee on Thursday to discuss the sexual misconduct allegations lobbied against him by Christine Blasey Ford.
Blasey Ford told the committee that, one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, “groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” then clamped his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream before she was able to escape.
Kavanaugh had denied the allegation.
Follow along with live updates here and tune to 92.3 FM, our app or online for complete coverage and analysis:
7 a.m. Arizona time
Twenty-one senators, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, entered the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room ahead of the testimony.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave their opening statements.
Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman, started the hearing with an apology to both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford for the way they’ve been treated, saying they and their families have received “vile threats.”
The Iowa Republican promised a “safe, comfortable and dignified” atmosphere and said it had been a “terrible couple of weeks” for both of them.
Feinstein said three women have made allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate actions against Kavanaugh that are at odds with Kavanaugh’s recollections of his youth.
Feinstein said the FBI should have investigated allegations made by Ford and two other women, just as it did in 1991 when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her.
Blasey Ford gave her opening statement to the committee.
Her voice cracked as she spoke to the committee, calling Kavanaugh: “the boy who sexually assaulted me.”
“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,” she said.
“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.”
She said that the assault has been seared into her memory and has haunted her.
Senators have begun their questioning of Blasey Ford. Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell started out by making sure documents provided by Ford were accurate.
Ford told Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that she struggled academically, had difficulty making friends and suffered from anxiety and symptoms of PTSD after the alleged assault. She also said that the event was so traumatic that the memory embedded itself in her brain.
“So you’re telling me this could not be a case of mistaken identity?” Feinstein asked.
“Absolutely not,” Blasey Ford replied.
Blasey Ford also told Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy that she would not have misidentified Kavanaugh or his friend, Mark Judge, who she says was present during the alleged assault. She also added they were laughing during the alleged assault. “Two good friends having a really good time with each other.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham gave his time to Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.
She questioned Blasey Ford over the number of witnesses who were present and whether she had spoken to anyone at the party since the alleged assault. Blasey Ford said she had spoken to one person.
Blasey Ford testified under oath that she was “100 percent” certain that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students.
Ford answered in response to Sen. Dick Durbin’s question asking what degree of certainty Ford had that it was Kavanaugh.
It was the second time in the televised hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford asserted that her claim against Kavanaugh was not a case of mistaken identity.
Both instances were in response to questions from Democratic senators who were trying to reinforce Ford’s credibility as Kavanaugh’s accuser.
Senators took a 15-minute break.
Senators, Mitchell and Blasey Ford filed back into the room to continue questioning.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) deferred his time to Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who asked Blasey Ford about a polygraph test she had taken about the allegations.
Lawyers for Blasey Ford provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with the results of a polygraph test that she took on Aug. 7.
Ford told The Washington Post she hired a former FBI agent to conduct the test as she considered whether to come forward with her accusation, and she’s said she passed it.
The documents seemed to support her claim, but there’s no independent expert verification.
Blasey Ford said she took the test because she did not see any reason not to. She said it was stressful and took longer than she anticipated, but that she endured it.
Senators again left the room to take a 30-minute lunch break.
10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Blasey Ford told Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii that there was no political motivation for coming forward with her account of sexual assault.
Mitchell questions Blasey Ford about her other interactions with Kavanaugh and asked if there were any other incidents at other parties. Blasey Ford said there was no sexual assault at the other parties.
“You clearly have nothing to gain from what you have done. I believe history will show that you are a true profile in courage in this moment in time and I thank you,” Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California told Blasey Ford.
Mitchell said she has no more questions for Ford.
Brett Kavanaugh entered the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room, where he will be questioned about sexual misconduct allegations made against him.
Kavanaugh gave his opening statement to the committee. In an emotional speech, he says Ford “publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school. I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically.”
Kavanaugh called the allegations a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination” meant to “destroy my name,” but vowed that he would not drop out of the process.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. This effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out,” he said.
“I am here this morning to answer these allegations and to tell the truth. And the truth is that I have never sexually assaulted anyone — not in high school, not in college, not ever.”
Kavanaugh went through his calendars, saying they prove that he was out of town for most weekends of the summer of 1982, when the assault allegedly occurred.
Kavanaugh wrapped up his opening statement by saying he is “innocent of this charge.”
Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell begun questioning Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh talked about his high school friend Mark Judge and his addiction, but does not disclose more information. “Suffered tremendously.” Kavanaugh said he hasn’t talked to Judge in years.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Kavanaugh why he isn’t asking the FBI to investigate the claims against him. Kavanaugh said he would do what the committee wants.
Kavanaugh called the allegations made by Julie Swetnick that he “consistently engage(d) in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women” a farce, but declined to expand on that.
Kavanaugh said he drank beer during high school, but that he never blacked out. He also denied all the aspects to Ford’s allegation.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked about Mark Judge and his book, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” which features a character named “Bret Kavanaugh.” Kavanaugh denies the character is framed after him.
Mitchell asks Kavanaugh whether he detailed parties in his calendars; he said yes.
“If a gathering like Dr. Ford described had occurred, would you have documented that?” she asks.
“Yes,” he responded, adding that he even detailed small gatherings.
Kavanaugh said nothing on the calendar “remotely fits” the party described by Ford.
Kavanaugh said he has never been accused of sexual misconduct, formally or informally.
Sen. Dirk Durbin from Illinois asked Kavanaugh to ask White House counsel Don McGahn to suspend the confirmation hearings in order to conduct an investigation into the claims.
In a tense exchange, Sen. Chuck Grassley interrupted, saying “we are not suspending this hearing.”
Kavanaugh said he wants the committee to decide. “I will do whatever the committee wants,” he said. He refused to answer whether he thought that was the best thing, but professed his innocence.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham interrupted the questioning, telling Durbin, “If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could’ve come to us.” He called the move an “unethical sham.”
Graham said that Democrats sat on allegations against Kavanaugh and then sprung them on the nominee at the last minute in a desperate attempt to prevent his confirmation.
“I hope the American people can see through this sham. You knew (about this allegation) and you held onto it,” he said.
“This is not a job interview, this is hell. This is going to destroy the ability for people to come forward because of this crap.”
The South Carolina senator said Democrats want to “destroy” Kavanaugh’s life and hold the seat open in the hope of winning the White House in 2020.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh again said there was never a time where he drank so much that he could not remember what happened or part of what happened when asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
After a 15-minute break, Kavanaugh then apologized to Klobuchar for throwing the question back to her. She accepted the apology, saying having an alcoholic parent makes her stay away from alcohol.
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah becomes the third consecutive Republican senator to reclaim his time from Rachel Mitchell. He used his time to say Kavanaugh is not a sexual predator.
“Let’s be fair and look at the facts — or the absence thereof,” he said. “That Judge Kavanaugh drank does not make him guilty of all the terrible things he’s being accused of.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons from Delaware asked Kavanaugh about a Yale classmate who told the Washington Post that he was a “sloppy drunk.”
“I don’t think that’s a fair characterization,” the judge responded.
Coons then asked Kavanaugh to delay the confirmation hearings for a week to conduct an investigation.
“Everyday has been a lifetime,” Kavanaugh said.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee from Utah urged his Democratic colleagues to participate in the process if they want an FBI investigation.
Mitchell was still present in the room, but a majority of Republican senators have used their time to question Kavanaugh on their own.
Kavanaugh denied allegations that his college roommate made that he was a “sloppy drunk” after questioning from Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis started his questioning by apologizing to Kavanaugh for the way he’s been treated, before chastising Democrats for holding onto Ford’s claims for weeks.
Sen. Cory Booker asked Kavanaugh whether he drank on weekdays during the summer in high school, and Kavanaugh said yes.
Kavanaugh was also apologized to from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about the way he’s been treated during this process. Mitchell has not asked Kavanaugh questions since shortly after his testimony began three hours ago.
Feinstein said she did not hide Blasey Ford’s allegations and denied leaking the letter to the press. Ryan Grim, an editor at The Intercept, which first reported the existence of the letter, backed up that allegation.
According to a White House official, President Donald Trump is encouraged by Kavanaugh’s denials. The official told The Associated Press that the West Wing saw the judge’s opening statement as “game changing” and said Trump appeared to be reacting positively.
Trump watched the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One as he traveled from New York, then resumed monitoring back at the White House.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California asked Kavanaugh whether he watched Ford’s testimony. He said he did not.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona took one minute to question Kavanaugh — but did not pose any questions. Instead, he delivered a short speech to his colleagues about humility.
The hearing adjourned around 3:45 p.m. Testimony lasted almost nine hours.
In a tweet, Trump said Kavanaugh’s testimony was “powerful, honest and riveting.”
The committee is scheduled to vote on whether to send Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.