Kavanaugh-Ford hearing: All the latest updates

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Kavanaugh-Ford hearing: All the latest updates

Christine Blasey Ford has accused US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.

According to Ford, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothing at a party in 1982.

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in July, denies the allegations, calling them “a smear campaign”. 

Testimonies in front of the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday began at 10am (14:00 GMT).

Latest updates:

15 minute break

During questions a break of 15 minutes was called. Kavanaugh, who is visibly emotional, called for the break, according to a senator. 

Democrats: Why no FBI investigation?

Senator Feinstein noted Kavanaugh’s concern regarding the allegations, but asked why he did not support calls for an FBI investigation. 

Kavanaugh called back to comments from his opening statement, saying he wanted to be in front of the Judicial committee the day after they were made. He said he’ll do what what the committee wants.

Kavanaugh claims innocence, cites friendships with women

“I am innocent” Kavanaugh told the Judiciary committee. The SCOTUS nominee said that he did not drink to the point of “blacking out”. 

Several letters signed by women who Kavanaugh called “friends, not girlfriends” extolled Kavanaugh’s character. 

Kavanaugh said he has always supported women. If confirmed to the Supreme Court he would be first to have an all-female staff of law clerks, he said. 

Kavanaugh says calendar shows he wasn’t there

Kavanaugh entered a personal calendar from 1982, the year in which the alleged assault occurred, into the record. He claimed that the party where the assault allegedly happened would have taken place on the weekend. 

The calendar, Kavanaugh said, shows he was only in DC for one weekend night: Friday, June 4. He said on that day he was with his father at a professional golf tournament. 

The calendars. which Kavanaugh said served as a sort of diary, “listed the precise people” who attended events with him.  

Kavanaugh: ‘I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone’

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school. Not in college. Not ever,” Kavanaugh said. 

The SCOTUS nominee said he didn’t question that Ford had been sexually assaulted, but he was not the person responsible for her alleged assault. 

Kavanaugh blames Democrats for allegations

Kavanaugh said the allegations arose only after Democrats, who he claimed have been against him since he was nominated, were unable to disqualify him based on merits.

The allegations against him are a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled by anger against Trump.

“You’ve tried hard, you’ve given it your all,” Kavanaugh said to Democrats on the Judiciary committee, but these efforts “will not drive me out.” 

Kavanaugh begins testimony

Kavanaugh began by stressing he prepared his opening remarks himself: “This is my statement.” 

The SCOTUS nominee said that people who Ford said attended the party where she was allegedly assaulted claimed they did not know Kavanaugh. 

He decried the ten-day delay between the publication of the allegations and the hearing.

In that time, his “family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations.”

Kavanaugh said the ten-day delay for a hearing was also harmful to the nation and the Supreme Court.

No more questions, 45 minute recess

Mitchell, the prosecutor to whom Republican senators ceded their time, finished her questioning of Ford. The majority of the last questions concerned Ford’s lawyers, including who was paying for their services and how she came to acquire their services. 

Ford’s legal counsel explained they were providing pro bono services and did not expect to be paid.

Mitchell told Ford she was finished with questioning.

Minutes later, one of Ford’s attorneys asked to be excused. Grassley thanked Ford for her testimony and the hearing went to a 45-minute recess.

Ford: No political motivation

As the hearing resumed, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii asked Republicans on the Judiciary panel if they planned to cede all their time for questioning to Mitchell, the prosecutor questioning Ford. Grassley confirmed they did. 

Ford then asked Ford if there is a political motivation behind going public with her allegations against Kavanaugh.

Ford said there was not, stressing that she attempted to make her allegations known when Kavanaugh was still one name a list of possible nominees.

Mitchell then continued questioning Ford.

Hearing breaks for lunch

The Judiciary committee will reconvene after 30 minutes. 

Questions resume after break

Ford has returned to clarify her account of the alleged assault after the hearing paused for 15 minutes.

Professional prosecutor Rachel Mitchell asked Ford about the content of her therapy records concerning her memory of the assault.  

Mitchell, who is questioning Ford for the Judiciary committee, asked Ford when she underwent a polygraph test concerning her allegations against Kavanaugh. Ford explained that it happened shortly after her grandmother’s funeral.

Democrats continued to call for a full FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Senator Grassley, the ranking Republican, said the hearing was so Ford could give testimony. 

Questioning begins

Ford’s questioning started shortly after her testimony. Ford corrected and amended portions of her statement, including the number of boys present at the house party where the alleged assault took place.

Then, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Ford about the most memorable part of the attack.

Ford replied: “The laughter between the two … and their having fun at my expense”. 

Democratic senators continued to call for a full FBI investigation into allegations made against Kavanaugh while commending Ford for her bravery. 

‘Hardest weeks of my life’

“Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves when and whether” their assault is made public, Ford said.

“I agonised daily about this decision throughout August and September” Ford continued, saying that her sense of duty “was always there”, even as her fears of exposure increased.

But reporters made it “clear” that her name would eventually be made public, so Ford decided to speak to a reporter with the Washington Post. 

Since her story became public, Ford has experienced an outpouring of support, she said.

At the same time, her “greatest fears have been realised,” Ford continued, detailing death threats and vile comments. “My family and I have been [living] in various secure locales, at times separated and at times together”.

“Apart from the assault itself, the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life”, Ford said.

Ford: I was afraid of dying

“I was pushed from behind into a bedroom … Brett and Mark came into the bedroom … I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me,” Ford continued, using Kavanaugh’s first name, Brett. 

Ford detailed the alleged sexual assault in graphic detail. “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 yelling … I couldn’t breathe,” she claimed. 

Ford said she was afraid that Kavanaugh would accidentally kill her by suffocation. She said she could hear the two boys she alleged assaulted her laughing as they left the bedroom.

Ford begins her testimony

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty”, Ford began. 

Ford informed the Judiciary panel how she came to know Kavanaugh.

“When I was 14 or 15 years old … I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time”, which was how they met, she said. 

In the summer of 1982, Ford attended a gathering in a home that Kavanaugh also attended, she said. “I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together … I don’t remember as much as I would like to, but the details that have brought me here today, I will never forget.” 

‘Where we are as a country’

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, described sexual assault as a ‘serious’ problem in the US that largely “goes unseen”, during her opening address. 

The problem of sexual assault reflects “where we are as a country,” she said. 

“Institutions have not progressed in how they treat women”, Feinstein said. Women are often “forced to defend themselves … re-victimized in the process”, she continued.

Feinstein recalled watching the testimony of Anita Hill, a woman who accused then SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault.

Thomas was confirmed in 1991. 

Still, “Anita Hill’s allegations were reviewed by the FBI … However, despite repeated requests, President Trump and the Republicans” have not followed this step regarding the allegations made against Kavanaugh, Feinstein said.

The hearing begins 

Ford is seated in front of the Senate panel, chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley who expressed the committee’s hope that the proceedings would be “safe, comfortable and dignified” for both Ford and Kavanaugh.

Grassley said that both Ford and Kavanaugh, as well as their families, had suffered “vile threats” due to the allegations against the SCOTUS nominee. 

Protesters gather on Capitol Hill ahead of hearing

Protesters marched to Capitol Hill on Thursday in support of Ford.  A small group of supporters were gathering in the Senate office building, while a larger protest is scheduled for 12:30pm (16:30 GMT).

A group of women who support Kavanaugh also held a small rally, calling for his confirmation. 

Hearing set for 14:00 GMT 

Christine Blasey Ford will give her account of an alleged incident, in which she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering when both of them were in high school.

Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations made by Ford as well as two other women who have come forward, will also testify, although he will not be in the room when Ford is speaking.

The all-male Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has hired lawyer Rachel Mitchell, who has experience prosecuting sex crimes, to question Ford.

Democratic senators will ask their own questions.

A line had begun to form outside Capitol Hill hours ahead of the hearing. 

Wednesday, September 26:

Anita Hill says #MeToo movement can create lasting change

Anita Hill said Wednesday her pivotal 1991 Senate testimony about sexual harassment by a Supreme Court nominee sparked a wave of awareness but that lasting change failed because of a lack of clear leadership and a reluctance to confront harsh realities. 

On the eve of another hearing where a US Supreme Court nominee is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, she told a packed University of Utah audience at a preplanned lecture that the #MeToo movement has the opportunity to create long-term solutions.

However, that is going to require facing questions the nation has been reluctant to address, including the prevalence of the problem and the fact that abusers don’t always look like stereotypical monsters, she said.

“We look for simple solutions because we don’t want to deal with the hard questions,” she said. “When those simple solutions fail, too often we retreat.”

Wednesday’s hearing comes nearly 30 years after her testimony against Clarence Thomas, who was later confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Hill said that when she came forward, she was thinking about the integrity of the court and the fact that justices have lifetime appointments.

“Access to equal justice for all is what was at stake in 1991, and it’s what’s at stake now,” said Hill, now 62 and a professor at Brandeis University.

Ford to testify: ‘Assault drastically altered my life’

In her prepared opening statement for the Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Christine Blasey Ford will tell the panel’s members how the assault “drastically altered” her life. 

“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,” the statement, released on Wednesday, reads. 

According to the remarks, Ford will describe the events in the summer of 1982 when she said Brett Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes. 

“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 the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult,” Ford will say. 

She will also describe the reaction she has received since coming forward. 

“I have experienced an outpouring of support,” she will explain. “At the time, my greatest fears have been realized – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected,” Ford will say. “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.” 

Ford will conclude by saying the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of her 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 … It is not my responsibility to determine whether Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.” 

Kavanaugh to tell Senate panel: ‘Last minute smears, pure and simple’

In his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh will again deny the allegations levelled against him by Christine Blasey Ford and others. 

“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired,”  Kavanaugh will say, according to his statement, released on Wednesday. “There has been a frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last minute smears, pure and simple.”

Kavanaugh will tell the panel that he is there to “answer these allegations and to tell the truth”. 

“Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith,” he will say. “Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject also deserves to be heard.”

According to the statement, Kavanaugh will tell the committee that he “never did anything remotely resembling with Dr Ford describes”. He will add that he is “innocent of this charge.”

Trump calls allegations ‘big fat con job’

In a rare solo press conference, US President Donald Trump called the allegations levelled against Kavanaugh as a “big fat con job” orchestrated by Democrats. 

“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me,” he said. “When I see it, I view it differently than someone sitting at home watching television.” 

Trump said, however, that he could “always be convinced”, adding that it will be “interesting to hear what she [Ford] has to say”. 

Kavanaugh calls new allegations ‘ridiculous’

In a statement on Wednesday after allegations surfaced from Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh said: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”

Third woman accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct

Julie Swetnick became the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct after her lawyer tweeted a declaration of the allegations on Wednesday. 

According to the declaration, shared by lawyer Michael Avenatti, Swetnick said she met Kavanaugh and his school friend, Mark Judge, in the 1980s and attended several parties in which the two were present.

“On numerous occasions at these parties, I witnessed Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer,” she said. “This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.”

Avenatti said that his client demands a “full and complete” FBI investigation into the allegations. 

Swetnick’s declaration comes a day before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of groping her and attempting to remove her clothes when they were both teenagers, are set to give evidence in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh staunchly denies ever sexually assaulting anyone, and his allies have questioned the credibility of Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, based in part on what they say is a lack of corroboration. Judge, who Ford said was present at the time of the assault, said in a letter sent to the Judiciary Committee by his lawyer that he had “no memory of this alleged incident”. 

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