‘Terrified’ Christine Blasey Ford Describes Alleged Sexual Assault by Kavanaugh
Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday she believes it is her “civic duty” to detail her allegation that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager — even though she is “terrified” to do so.
“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,” Ford said as she began her testimony.
As the nation watches Thursday’s extraordinary hearing, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will later attempt to convince majority Republicans on the committee to confirm him despite Ford’s allegations — and as other accusations of sexual misconduct emerge from Kavanaugh’s youth.
The hearing opened with partisan barbs before either Ford or Kavanaugh testified.
The committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, opened the hearing by pointing out that Kavanaugh had been through six FBI background checks with no hint of sexual assault allegations emerging. He called Democratic calls for an FBI investigation into the accusations “obstruction.”
Grassley repeated his assertion that he has no authority to force the FBI to investigate the allegations, and said “it was easy to identify all the alleged witnesses and conduct our own investigations.”
He also criticized the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for failing to immediately share Ford’s claim when she received Ford’s letter detailing her allegation in July.
“Every step of the way, the Democratic side refused to participate in what should have been a bipartisan investigation,” Grassley said.
Feinstein took a shot at Grassley, telling Ford that “the chairman chose not to do this — but I think it’s appropriate that you’re properly introduced,” and then running through Ford’s resume, which includes two master’s degrees.
“I am very grateful to you for your strength and your bravery in coming forward. I know it’s hard,” she said.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both phoned Kavanaugh to voice their support for him ahead of Thursday’s hearing. Trump’s message when he spoke with Kavanaugh, a source familiar with the call said, was to be aggressive and forceful in his denials, and not afraid to push back on the allegations.
Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, is in California with their two children and is not present, Ford’s team tells CNN.
Kavanaugh planned to watch at least the first part of Ford’s testimony from Pence’s ceremonial office on the Senate side of the Capitol, a source familiar with the plan said. As Ford’s legal team requested, Kavanaugh will never be in the same room as Ford.
Each senator will get five minutes to ask questions and can hand that duty off to another senator or a staffer. Republicans have hired Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to ask questions on their behalf.
According to his prepared testimony, Kavanaugh plans to tell senators that he “said and did things in high school that make me cringe now” — but that he “never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes.” Earlier this month, he told Judiciary Committee staffers he didn’t recall ever meeting Ford.
The Supreme Court nominee has been “incandescent” — as in extremely angry — according to one person involved in his preparation. For Kavanaugh, his supporters say, it’s not as much about a Supreme Court seat now but defending his name. He vehemently denies Ford’s allegations and says that perhaps she was sexually assaulted by someone in some place but it wasn’t him.
Thursday’s hearing comes as two other named individuals have levied allegations against Kavanaugh. Democrats are pushing Grassley to subpoena Mark Judge, the Kavanaugh friend who Ford says was in the room with him when she was assaulted.
Regarding other allegations — some of which have been anonymous — that have come to the committee since Ford came forward, Kavanaugh has called some of them “ridiculous,” his supporters tell CNN.