Christian Headlines is live blogging the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford:
4:59 p.m. -- Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Kavanaugh, “Are you aware that at 9:23 on the night of July 9, the day you were nominated to the Supreme Court … Sen. Schumer said, ‘I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have. … The stakes are simply too high for anything less.’?”
Before giving Graham time to answer the question, a passionate Graham noted that when Kavanaugh meet with Feinstein in their one-on-one meeting weeks ago, Feinstein already had recommended an attorney for Ford.
“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve seen in politics,” Graham said.
4:53 p.m. -- Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) pressed Kavanaugh his thoughts on an FBI investigation.
“I welcome whatever the committee wants to do because I’m telling the truth,” Kavanaugh answered.
“I want to know what you want to do,” Durbin responded.
After a back and forth, Kavanaugh said, “They don’t reach conclusions. You reach conclusions.”
Durbin answered, “No, but they do investigate questions.”
Kavanaugh said, “They just go and do what you’re going – ask questions and type up a report. They don’t reach the bottom line.”
4:18 p.m. -- Under questioning from Mitchell, Kavanaugh said he’s never blacked out after drinking alcohol.
“In high school … did you ever wake up in a different location than you remembered?” she asked.
“No,” Kavanaugh said.
Mitchell then asked, “Did you ever wake up with your clothes in a different condition or fewer clothes on” than when you passed out?
“No,” Kavanaugh said.
Mitchell further asked, “Did anyone ever tell you about something that you did not remember?”
“No,” he answered.
4:11 p.m. -- Feinstein asked Kavanaugh if he would be willing to cooperate with the FBI. Kavanaugh said he would.
“I’m all in,” he said.
Kavanaugh then added, “The FBI doesn’t reach a conclusion.” The FBI would just “tell you what we said.”
“I’m here. I wanted to be here the next day,” he said.
“You’re interviewing me,” Kavanaugh told Feinstein.
3:49 p.m. – Kavanaugh said in his opening statement, “Less than two weeks ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing wrongdoing at an event more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically and unequivocally. All four people allegedly at the event including Dr. Ford's longtime friend, Ms. Keyser, have said they recalled no such event. Her longtime friend, Ms. Keyser, said under penalty of felony that she does not know me and does not believe she ever saw me at a party ever. Here's the quote from Ms. Keyser’s attorney's letter quote, ‘Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh at all and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present with or without Dr. Ford.’ Think about that fact.
“The day after the allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted a hearing as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded a hearing for the very next day. Unfortunately, it took the committee 10 days to get to this hearing. In those 10 long days as was predictable and as I predicted, my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations. The 10-day delay has been harmful to me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country. When this allegation first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation -- Senate, FBI or otherwise. The committee now has conducted a thorough investigation and I cooperated fully. I know that any kind of investigation, Senate, FBI, Montgomery County police, whatever, will clear me. Listen to the people I know, listen to the people who have known me my whole life. Listen to the people I've grown up with and worked with and played with and coached with and dated and taught and gone to games with and had beers with. And listen to the witnesses who allegedly were at this event 36 years ago. Listen to Ms. Keyser. She does not know me. I was not at the party described by Dr. Ford.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”
2:10 p.m. – Mitchell asked, “Are you aware that the three people at the party besides yourself and Brett Kavanaugh have given statements under penalty of felony to the committee?”
“Yes,” Ford said.
“And are you aware of what those statements say?” Mitchell asked.
“And are you aware that they have no memory or knowledge of such a party?” Mitchell said.
“Yes,” Ford said.
Ford later said it was a “very unremarkable party” and she wasn’t surprised they don’t remember it.
Mitchell argued that the best way to get to the memory of a sexual assault long ago is with a “forensic interview” in a private setting, one on one.
Asked if anyone ever advised her to get a forensic interview, Ford said, “No.”
“Instead, you were advised to get an attorney and to get a polygraph,” Mitchell said.
1:58 p.m. – Mitchell asked Ford about other social encounters she had with Kavanaugh. Ford answered that she attended four to five other parties where Kavanaugh was present.
Mitchell then asked if Kavanaugh did anything that would be considered “sexually inappropriate” at these other parties.
“No,” Ford responded.
1:42 p.m. – Ford’s attorneys said they paid for the polygraph, an action they said is routine. Asked how she will pay her legal bills, Ford said it could be through a GoFundMe campaign.
Under questioning from Mitchell, Ford said she doesn’t know how her letter to Feinstein became public.
1:37 p.m. – Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) said sexual assault victims often do not remember peripheral details surrounding an assault. Kavanaugh, she said, has been “credibly accused.”
12:42 p.m. – Mitchell asked Ford if she was advised to take the polygraph, and if so, who advised her.
Ford said she took the polygraph “based on the advice of counsel.”
The polygraph, she said, took place in a hotel conference room next to an airport, and she took it on the day of or the day after her grandmother’s funeral. She did not pay for it, she said.
“He was willing to come to me,” Ford said.
Grassley said he has requested the charts, audio and video of the test but has not received them.
12:23 p.m. – Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) said Ford contacted The Washington Post tip line and her congressman before Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. Ford contacted them, Coons said, when Kavanaugh was on the short list of possible nominees.
Ford said Coons was correct.
12:01 p.m. – Mitchell quoted media reports that said Ford didn’t want to fly to Washington because she had a fear of flying.
“I eventually was able to get up the gumption … to get on the plane,” Ford said.
Mitchell then asked Ford if she had previously flown to other locations. Ford said she flies once a year to Delaware to meet family.
“In fact, you fly fairly frequently for your hobbies” and work, Mitchell said.
Ford said she had flown also to Hawaii, Costa Rica and French Polynesia.
11:58 a.m. -- Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) criticized the lack of an FBI investigation: “Never in the history of background investigations has an investigation not been pursued when new, credible derogatory information was brought forward about the nominee or the candidate.
11:54 a.m. -- Mitchell, speaking for Republicans, asked, “Has anyone come forward to say to you, ‘Hey, remember, I was the one who drove you home”?
“No,” Ford answered.
Mitchell, noting that Ford has not been able to nail down a year the allegation took place, asked, “How were you able to narrow down the time date?”
“I would like to be more helpful with the date,” Ford said, adding she knew it was before she got her driver’s license.
11:24 a.m. – Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said Mark Judge, who allegedly was at the party, should be subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He also asked Ford to gauge her level of certainty that Kavanaugh – and not someone else – assaulted her.
“100 percent,” Ford answered.
11:18 a.m. – Mitchell asked Ford, “Have you been contacted by anybody saying, ‘Hey, I was at that party too?’”
“No I haven’t talked with anyone from that party,” Ford said. Moments later, she corrected herself and said she had contacted her friend, Leland Ingham.
11:10 a.m. -- Rachel Mitchell, asking questions for Republican Senators, asked Ford if she had been drinking or was on any medication leading up to the party. Ford said no.
11:03 a.m. – In her five minutes of questioning, Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democratic member on the Judiciary Committee, asked Ford what impact the event had had on her life. Ford said she has had “PTSD-like symptoms,” claustrophobia and panic.
Feinstein asked if it could be a case of mistaken identity.
“Absolutely not,” Ford said.
10:37 a.m. – Ford told the committee in her opening statement, “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.”
Ford then described the allegation: “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 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.
“… 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 restroom. 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 into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and I 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 very inebriated, 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 seemed to be having a good time. Mark seemed ambivalent, 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 waited until 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.
“… 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.”
10:19 a.m.– Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democratic member on the Judiciary Committee, told Ford: “Thank you for being willing” to share your testimony. Feinstein quoted CDC data saying one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
She also expressed frustration that women who report sexual crimes are “re-victimized in the process.”
“Too often, women’s memories and credibility come under assault,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein criticized Republicans and President Trump for not calling for an FBI investigation. She noted that an FBI investigation was used in the Clarence Thomas hearing.
“This clearly would be the best way to ensure a fair process to both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein shared details of other women who have made allegations against Ford.
“Each of these stories are troubling on their own, and each of these allegations should be investigated by the FBI,” Feinstein continued.
10:07 a.m.– Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, in his opening statement, called the threats made against Ford and Kavanaugh “unacceptable and a poor reflection on the state of civility” in America.
“I want to apologize to you both for the way that you’ve been treated,” he said.
Grassley also bemoaned that the letter from Ford to Feinstein was kept secret for weeks.
“These allegations could have been investigated” with confidentiality if the letter had been made public,” he said.
Grassley also pushed back against those calling for an FBI investigation. Quoting former Democrat Sen. Joe Biden from the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearing, Grassley said the FBI doesn’t reach conclusions in such investigations. It would, Grassley said, be a “he said,” “she said” report.
Referencing other women who have made allegations against Kavanaugh, Grassley said his staff had reached out to their attorneys, but none of the women had been made available for interviews.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Video courtesy: Fox News
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.