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Stephanie Hallett
September 27, 2018 12:45 pm

Today, September 27th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor of psychology at Palo Alto University who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school more than 30 years ago. We’ll be live-blogging the hearings here from 10 a.m. EST, so check back regularly.

6:46 p.m.: Sen. Grassley adjourned the hearing.

6:43 p.m.: Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) took the floor and asked Kavanaugh if he believes in God. Kavanaugh said yes. Sen. Kennedy then asked him, “before God,” to answer this question: “I want you to look me in the eye: Are Dr. Ford’s allegations true?”

“They’re not accurate as to me,” Kavanaugh said. “I’ve never done this to her or anyone else.”

He then asked the same about Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, and Kavanaugh denied those allegations too. Finally, Sen. Kennedy had Kavanaugh “swear to God” that the allegations weren’t true. “I swear to God,” Kavanaugh said.

6:36 p.m.: Sen. Harris asked if Kavanaugh had taken a polygraph test; Kavanaugh said no but that he would do whatever the committee wants. Sen. Harris then noted that Kavanaugh has been asked to call for the White House to authorize an FBI investigation multiple times, but won’t agree to do it. She then asked him “one last time” if he would make the request for an FBI investigation. He skirted the question several times without ever answering it.

Sen. Harris then compared Kavanaugh’s hearing to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s hearing earlier this year; Justice Gorsuch was also nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump and was confirmed. She noted the many similarities between the two men and their lives and careers, and said the only difference between the two is that Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault.

She then asked, “Do you agree that it is possible for men to be friends with some women and treat other women badly?”

Kavanaugh pointed again to his many female friends and the women who have supported him during this process, saying their support is an indication of his character throughout his life.

6:31 p.m.: Sen. Feinstein asked for a point of personal privilege to respond:

6:25 p.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke about the two additional allegations against Kavanaugh, noting that Democrats on the committee had not questioned Kavanaugh about those claims during this hearing and suggesting that it was because the allegations were too thin.

He then accused Sen. Feinstein of leaking Dr. Blasey’s original letter to the press.

6:20 p.m.: Sen. Booker asked Kavanaugh to clarify whether or not he sees Dr. Blasey as a political operative. “All allegations should be taken seriously,” Kavanaugh replied. “My family has no ill will towards her.”

6:15 p.m.: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) said that the committee’s process needs to be revisited in light of this hearing, arguing that Democrats have not participated adequately or appropriately in the process.

6:09 p.m.: Sen. Hirono said Dr. Blasey showed “quiet, raw, emotional power,” and said that she was “100% sure” it was Kavanaugh who attacked her. She asked if Kavanaugh’s “credibility, character, and candor” are qualities the committee should consider in Kavanaugh as a nominee; Kavanaugh said yes. “Is temperament also important for us to consider?” she asked. Kavanaugh spoke around the question, but eventually agreed that the answer was yes.

Sen. Hirono then asked about Kavanaugh’s drinking in college. “I got into Yale Law School,” he replied, then detailed his academic record and his involvement in varsity sports. He didn’t comment directly on his drinking, or his former roommate’s claim that he was a messy and aggressive drinker.

5:49 p.m.: Sen. Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) noted that there are only six sentences in Mark Judge’s statement—the “sworn statement” referenced throughout this hearing—then asked if that seems like a quality replacement for an FBI investigation. Kavanaugh did not answer directly, and Sen. Blumenthal moved on to questions about a description Kavanaugh gave previously of his own drinking on a particular trip in college. Kavanaugh insisted that he remembers everything that happened, despite the fact that his statement said he had to “piece things back together” after drinking on a trip to Fenway Park in Boston.

5:44 p.m.: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) argued that Democrats should use the time they have now to question Kavanaugh rather than continuously calling for an FBI investigation. He quoted Biden again, as Grassley has twice already during this hearing, on the uselessness of FBI investigations.

5:36 p.m.: Sen. Coons argued that in Kavanaugh’s previous hearings before this committee, his answers were at times evasive and not credible. He continued, asking Kavanaugh whether he’s ever been aggressive while drinking or forgotten anything after drinking. Kavanaugh said no to both. Sen. Coons then quoted a former friend who told a news outlet, “Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him”; Kavanaugh referred to other parts of the article that painted him in a different light.

To conclude, Sen. Coons called on Kavanaugh to ask for an FBI investigation.

5:30 p.m.: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was present for Anita Hill’s hearings in 1991, spoke about treating Kavanaugh fairly after treating Dr. Blasey fairly. “This man is not a monster,” he said. He added, incredulously, “We’re talking about his conduct in high school!”

He continued, “This is worse than Clarence Thomas, I didn’t think it could get any worse than that…This is a national disgrace, the way you’re being treated.” He asserted that Kavanaugh may have been an immature high schooler, but that immaturity does not equal a crime.

He then asked Kavanaugh about the timeline of the allegations—when he heard about the allegations, whether or not Sen. Feinstein raised the allegations to him before Dr. Blasey’s letter was leaked to the press, when he heard about the two other women’s allegations, and when Sen. Feinstein asked about the additional allegations.

5:29 p.m.: Kavanaugh apologized to Sen. Klobuchar for asking her if she’d ever been black-out drunk. She accepted his apologized and said that as the daughter of an alcoholic father, she’s very careful about drinking.

5:10 p.m.: After quoting former Vice President Joe Biden on the uselessness of FBI reports—”The next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesn’t understand anything. The FBI explicitly does not in this or any other case reach a conclusion. Period.”—Sen. Grassley called for a 15-minute break.

5:00 p.m.: Sen. Klobuchar reiterated Democrats’ desire for an FBI investigation, saying it’s up to the president to open up the FBI background check. Kavanaugh did not voice his support for such an investigation.

She then asked about his drinking in high school and college and if there was ever a time he drank so much he couldn’t remember what happened. He didn’t answer the question at first, but eventually said no, that there was never a time he drank so much he blacked out.

4:58 p.m.: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) spoke about due process and argued that because Kavanaugh has been accused of a crime, his accusers must come forward with corroborative evidence; he said that none of the women have done so.

“This is your chance to tell your story,” he said. “But the burden is not on you to disprove the allegations made…The burden is on the person making the accusation.”

4:47 p.m.: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) angrily accused Sen. Leahy and the Democrats of running a political scam to win power in 2020, saying they could have asked for an FBI investigation at any time and should have shared Dr. Blasey’s letter with the committee much sooner.

He said to Kavanaugh, “You’ve got nothing to apologize for…This is the most unethical scam since I’ve been in politics.”

“Would you say you’ve been through hell?” he asked Kavanaugh. “This is not a job interview, this is hell.”

Angrier still, he continued, “If you drugged women and raped them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop.”

He concluded, “I intend to vote for you, and I hope everyone who is fair-minded will as well.”

4:40 p.m.: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) noted that Dr. Blasey requested an FBI investigation and that Kavanaugh said he welcomes any kind of investigation. He then recommended Kavanaugh turn to White House counsel Don McGahn and ask him to suspend this hearing until the FBI can fully investigate this hearing.

Sen. Grassley stopped the clock to say that the committee will absolutely not suspend the hearing.

Sen. Durbin returned to questioning Kavanaugh and asked him to answer the question: “What do you want to do?” Kavanaugh, seeming frustrated and angry, replied, “I’m innocent!” but wouldn’t say specifically that he wants an FBI investigation. Sen. Durbin then asked, “Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation right now?” Kavanaugh replied with silence.

4:35 p.m.: Mitchell asked about a July calendar entry and whether or not he would have documented small gatherings like the one Dr. Blasey described; Kavanaugh said yes.

Mitchell reminded Kavanaugh that there is no statute of limitations in Maryland that would prevent him from being charged in this matter.

She then asked, “Have you ever been accused, formally or informally, of inappropriate sexual behavior?” Kavanaugh said “no.”

4:28 p.m.: Sen. Leahy began questioning Kavanaugh, asking if Kavanaugh wanted his old friend Judge to testify before the committee. Kavanaugh didn’t answer the question directly, saying Judge has given sworn testimony outside of the committee. Sen. Leahy then asked Kavanaugh if the “Brett Kavanaugh” character that Judge wrote about in his book about drinking excessively is him, and again Kavanaugh wouldn’t answer the question directly, saying that question should be directed to Judge.

4:13 p.m.: Kavanaugh requested a 15-minute break.

4:06 p.m.: Mitchell asked about his drinking in high school, asking him to define how many is “too many” beers. He agreed that there may have been times in high school that he had “too many,” but he never “blacked out.” He said there were never any incidents that he forgot about and was later told had occurred.

She then broke down the incident described by Dr. Blasey piece by piece—asking, for example, “Have you ever ground or rubbed your genitals on Dr. Ford?”—and asked Kavanaugh if he had ever participated in any of the acts described. He denied each detail.

He then said his calendars were both backward and forward looking, meaning he edited them to include additional details about events, such as who attended a party, but has not edited them since they were first drafted. He keeps them, he said, because his father held onto his calendars beginning in 1978.

4:02 p.m.: Sen. Feinstein asked him to confirm that he denies allegations against him—he confirmed. Regarding the lack of an FBI hearing she said, “If you’re very confident of your position, and you appear to be, why aren’t you also asking the FBI to investigate these claims?” He reiterated that he wanted a hearing the next day and said “whatever the committee decides, I’m all in immediately.”

Sen. Feinstein said the committee is not a position to prove or disprove an allegation, and that senators must rely on an outside investigation to understand what happened. But Kavanaugh insisted that testifying before the committee was the best option since the FBI wouldn’t make a conclusion.

Of the other allegations against him, Kavanaugh said, “The Swetnick thing is a joke, that is a farce.”

3:58 p.m: Mitchell began questioning Kavanaugh. She asked him to review the allegations of sexual assault then went over the allegations against him. She asked how he knew Mark Judge, one of the alleged witnesses named by Dr. Blasey and he explained that they were friends who went to school together. He said the two see each other “once in a while” but haven’t seen each other since these allegations came to light.

3:11 p.m.: Sen. Grassley swore in Kavanaugh. He began his opening statement, saying that no one has seen a draft, though a prepared draft has been published online. His statement indeed differs from the prepared remarks.

He began by saying he’d demanded a hearing the day after these allegations came to light, but it took the committee 10 days to schedule the hearing. “I know that any kind of investigation…will clear me. Listen to the people I know. Listen to the people who have known me my whole life…Listen to the witnesses who were allegedly at this event 30 years ago. Listen to Ms. Keyser—she doesn’t know me.”

He said Democrats have sought to block his confirmation by any means necessary and quoted senators who called him “evil” and “your worst nightmare.”

“I understand the passions of the moment, but I would say to those senators—your words have meaning. Millions of americans listened carefully to you. Given comments like those, is it any surprise that people have been willing to do anything…to blow me up and take me down? You sowed the wind. For decades to come, I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.”

He called the hearings and allegations a “calculated, orchestrated political hit” and a “circus” and said “the consequences will be with us for decades.” He continued, saying, “This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good people” from serving the United States. “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit—never,” he said.

Speaking about Dr. Blasey’s allegations, he said, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone…Sexual assault is horrific.” He then spoke about a close friend who was sexually abused and chose to confide in him when the two were in their 30s.

He went on, “I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been assaulted…but I have never done this—to her or to anyone. That’s not who I am, it’s not who I was. I am innocent of this charge. I intend no ill will to Dr. Ford or her family.”

He got choked up when speaking about his 10-year-old daughter who said to Kavanaugh and his wife, “We should pray for the woman.” He continued, “We mean no ill will.”

He took a deep breath and then went on to speak about his judicial record and the background checks he’s undergone throughout this hearing process and throughout his career. He noted that “nothing of this kind” has ever come up. He then said he “categorically and unequivocally denies” Dr. Blasey’s allegations.

He reiterated that the other guests who Dr. Blasey says were at the gathering have testified under oath that they don’t recall the gathering, pointed to things he considers to be gaps in Dr. Blasey’s testimony, spoke about the calendars he kept in high school—they’re a tribute to his father, who kept them diligently—and noted that his 1982 calendar shows he was out of town most weekends when, presumably, the gathering with Dr. Blasey would have taken place. He argued that the calendars are “not dispositive on their own, but they are another piece of evidence for you to consider.”

He said he’s always had many close female friends and noted that he often had parties with his friends, male and female, in high school and that they often drank beer. “But I never drank beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone,” he said.

He spoke on his high school yearbooks, which have been made public this week and shown a misogynistic side to the school. He said he and his friends “cringed” when they read about it and talked to each other. He then addressed the term “Renate Alumnus,” a seemingly derogatory term appearing throughout the yearbook that referred to a female student from another school. He said it was intended to be affectionate and show she was “one of us.”

He spoke about the letters  from women who knew him and high school and college that have been signed and shared publicly this week. He said one of his female friends from college—a “liberal [and] feminist”—texted him and said, “Deep breaths. You’re a good man, a good man, a good man.”

He continued, speaking about the ways he has pushed for the advancement of women throughout his career and hired female law clerks, and noted that his female law clerks said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the legal system is “more fair and equal because of [Kavanaugh].”

If confirmed, he said, “I’ll be the first justice in the history of the Supreme Court to have a group of all female law clerks.”

He wrapped up at 3:56 p.m., saying, “I ask you to judge me by the standard that you would want applied to your father, your husband, your brother or your son. My family and I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford or her family, but I swear today under oath…I am innocent of this charge.”

3:08 p.m. Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, have arrived at the hearing.

2:16 p.m.: Sen. Grassley adjourned or 45 minutes. That’s the end of Dr. Blasey’s testimony—Kavanaugh is up next.

2:13 p.m.: Senators voiced their final objections and requested to have additional letters and documents added to the official record.

2:08 p.m.: Mitchell asked why none of the other guests named at the high school gathering have confirmed that the party took place. Dr. Blasey said her friend Leland Keyser, another woman who was at the gathering, currently has “significant health challenges” that she’s focused on, and that she told Dr. Blasey as much and sent her regards via text message.

She asked Dr. Blasey if she’s aware that the best way for a survivor of trauma to share their stories is in a one-on-one forensic interview where you can share your story without interruption, and then to be asked follow-up questions. Dr. Blasey said, “That makes sense,” and that she was not advised to undergo a forensic interview by Sen. Feinstein’s office or Rep. Eshoo’s.

2:02 p.m.: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) reiterated that Dr. Blasey is not on trial. She said she found Dr. Blasey’s decision to come forward while Kavanaugh was on the short list of candidates to be “extremely persuasive,” thanked her for her courage, and said, “I believe you.”

Sen. Harris reiterated the need for an FBI investigation, again noting that that step was taken during the Anita Hill hearings.

“You have bravely come forward and I want to thank you, because you clearly have nothing to gain,” she concluded. “I believe history will show you are a true profile in courage.”

1:58 p.m.: Mitchell asked Dr. Blasey about how her attorneys—there are two—are being paid; one confirmed that both are working on this case pro bono.

Mitchell then began asking about some allegations that were made on Twitter last week about another man who seemed to look like Kavanaugh in high school who was put forth as Dr. Blasey’s assailant. The allegations were made to support the notion that this case is one of “mistaken identity,” however there has been no evidence put forth that this other man was at the gathering where Dr. Blasey says she was assaulted or that he was involved in any way with the assault. Dr. Blasey told Mitchell that she’d known the other man socially for a few months before the alleged assault and “went out with him”; she’s certain he wasn’t the assailant.

1:49 p.m.: Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) acknowledged the sacrifice Dr. Blasey has made to come forward—facing death threats, hiring personal security, submitting to a polygraph test, etc. He then asked how this experience has affected her children and her husband and Dr. Blasey said they were doing fine, all things considered.

Sen. Booker then called Dr. Blasey “heroic” for “speaking truth that this country needs to understand.” He added, “How we deal with survivors who come forward right now is unacceptable and the way we deal with this unfortunately allows for the continued darkness of this culture to exist. Your brilliance, shining a light onto this and speaking your truth, is nothing short of heroic.”

1:43 p.m.: Mitchell asked again who paid for the polygraph; her lawyers confirmed that they had paid for it and noted that that “is routine.” Additional detailed questions about the timeline of Dr. Blasey’s allegations followed, such as when she sent her letters to Rep. Eshoo and Sen. Feinstein, if she provided copies of her letter to anyone else, and if she knows who made the letter public. Blasey said she does not know who leaked the letter.

1:37 p.m.: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) spoke first after lunch. She noted that Mitchell is treating this hearing like a criminal trial, attempting to undermine the memory and credibility of Dr. Blasey with her detailed, prosecutorial-style questions. She then asked Dr. Blasey, “Is there a political motivation for your coming forward?” Blasey said no, “I was trying to get the information to you while there was still a list of what looked like equally qualified candidates.”

Sen. Hirono then thanked Dr. Blasey for re-inserting the question of character back into this hearing and into American life, and criticized Trump for his taped comments about sexually assaulting women.

Sen. Hirono quoted a statement from the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence: “This moment has become a crucible. It’s a test of our progress. Do we start by believing victims of sexual assault and treating them with dignity, or don’t we? So far, Senate leaders are failing that test. Prejudging the outcome of the hearing. Sympathizing with her perpetrator. Attacking her credibility. The public vitriol has been even louder and more toxic. She now must live in fear for her own safety and that of her children and has had to flee her home and hire security. These attacks need to stop now.”

12:43 p.m.: Sen. Grassley called for a 30-minute recess for lunch.

12:37 p.m.: Mitchell asked detailed questions about the polygraph, asking whether Dr. Blasey had ever taken a polygraph before, had been given any tips about how to take one, and if she paid for it herself (Dr. Blasey said she doesn’t think she paid for it and doesn’t know who did).

12:32 p.m.: “I have found your testimony powerful, incredible, and I believe you,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut). “You have inspired and enlightened America…That is a profound public service, regardless of what happens with this nomination.”

He explained that he believes her not only because of her prior polygraph test, her request for an FBI investigation, and urging the committee to hear from corroborating witnesses, such as Judge, but also because, he said, she has been honest about what she cannot remember. “Someone composing a story can make it all come together in a seamless way,” he said. “But someone who is honest…is also candid about what she or he cannot remember.”

He then quoted a passage from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s book, My Story, about trying rape cases as an attorney:

12:30 p.m.: Mitchell asked additional questions about the timeline of Dr. Blasey’s allegations, trying to pinpoint when exactly she retained counsel.

12:20 p.m.: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) thanked Dr. Blasey for coming forward, joining fellow Democratic senators in commending Dr. Blasey’s bravery. He asked Dr. Blasey to clarify some details about the timeline of her allegations, such as when she first came forward with her story; he noted that she first attempted to share her experience when Kavanaugh was still on the short list of nominees.

He then asked about the specific details she remembers from the alleged incident, drawing on research that shows survivors of sexual assault often have piece-meal memories where some details are clear and others are lost. Dr. Blasey described how she experienced a surge of adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine that spurred her fight-or-flight response and seared certain moments from the night of the alleged assault into her memory.

12:17 p.m.: Mitchell continued asking detailed questions about the timeline of Dr. Blasey’s allegations, such as when she met with her congresswoman, Eshoo, and what they discussed.

12:13 p.m.: Klobuchar asked to put the polygraph results on the record. Dr. Blasey’s lawyer said he’d offered to have the polygraph examiner testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Sen. Grassley denied the request. Sen. Grassley said “you got what you wanted” in response, referring to the inclusion of Dr. Blasey’s polygraph results in today’s hearing.

12:07 p.m.: Sen. Klobuchar thanked Dr. Blasey and said “the times have changed” regarding how women’s experiences with sexual assault are handled in the U.S. She asked Dr. Blasey to explain why she took a polygraph test. Dr. Blasey explained that her lawyer asked her to take it and she agreed.

Klobuchar asked Dr. Blasey to describe what she will never forget from the night of the alleged assault. Dr. Blasey listed: the stairwell, the bedroom, the bed, the bathroom in close proximity to the bedroom, the “uproarious laughter,” the multiple attempts to escape, and “the final ability to do so.”

12:00 p.m.: Mitchell questioned Dr. Blasey about her fear of flying, which Dr. Blasey said was a result of the alleged assault by Kavanaugh; Dr. Blasey does not like to be confine in enclosed spaces.

11:59 a.m.: Sen. Grassley responded by detailing the many ways he says Dr. Blasey’s claims have been investigated; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) interrupted to say that then-President George H.W. Bush re-opened the background investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas in the 1990s after Anita Hill’s allegations became public.

11:54 a.m.: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) joined other Democratic senators in calling for an FBI investigation, saying, “Never in the history of background investigations has an investigation not been perused when new, credible, derogatory information was brought forward about the nominee or candidate. I don’t think this has ever happened in the history of FBI background investigations.” He did not ask any additional questions of Dr. Blasey.

11:48 a.m.: Mitchell began questioning Dr. Blasey again. She asked detailed questions about where Dr. Blasey lived at the time of the alleged assault, when Dr. Blasey obtained her own therapy records, and whether or not the Washington Post reporter she spoke to saw the therapy records herself.

11:28 a.m.: Sen. Grassley called for a 15-minute break.

11:22 a.m.: Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin echoed Sen. Leahy, commending Dr. Blasey on her bravery. “Watching your experience, it’s no wonder so many sexual assault survivors hide their past,” he said. “The fact that you are testifying here today, terrified though you may be, the fact that you have called for an FBI investigation…stands in sharp contrast to the obstruction we’ve seen on the other side [by Republicans].”

He asked Dr. Blasey about a claim by Republicans that this is a case of mistaken identity; Dr. Blasey said she was “100%” certain that it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her. She described seeing Judge at a grocery store about six to eight weeks after the incident and said he seemed scared to see her, saying his face was “white” when she said hello to him.

11:11 a.m.: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) began his time, saying the FBI should investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. He then told Dr. Blasey that he is inspired by her courage. “Bravery is contagious. Indeed, that’s the driving force behind the #MeToo movement,” he said. “We owe you a debt of gratitude for [coming forward], Doctor.”

Dr. Blasey said she remembers clearly the laughter of the two boys—Kavanaugh and Judge—ringing out during the alleged attack.

11:06 a.m.: Mitchell returned to questioning Dr. Blasey, asking if she’d been drinking on the day of the gathering before she arrived, or if she was on any medication. Dr. Blasey said no to both.

10:53 a.m.: Mitchell began her questioning by saying she can tell that Dr. Blasey is terrified. “That’s not right,” she said. Mitchell then asked her to review some text messages that Dr. Blasey sent to a reporter at The Washington Post. Dr. Blasey had one small clarification. Mitchell then asked Dr. Blasey to review the letter she sent to her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, and Dr. Blasey began to make some small clarifications but was interrupted by Sen. Grassley who wanted to move things along to Sen. Feinstein.

Sen. Feinstein then asked why Dr. Blasey held this in all these years; Dr. Blasey noted that she hadn’t held it in but shared it in therapy. She said she experiences anxiety, phobia, and PTSD-like symptoms, as well as claustrophobia and panic, as a result of the alleged assault, and she noted that she struggled to make friends and excel in college after the incident.

10:34 a.m.: Dr. Blasey began her opening statement. Noting that she’s not testifying today because she wants to, she said, “I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me when Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

She described the incident that took place in the summer of 1982. Holding back tears, she said, “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. … I believed he was going to rape me.”

She said the assault changed her life—she was afraid and ashamed to share the details.

Read her prepared remarks here.

10:20 a.m.: Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein addressed the committee, saying, “How women are treated in the United States with this kind of concern is really wanting reform.”

Sen. Feinstein said Democrats want the committee to subpoena Mark Judge, a college friend of Kavanaugh’s who Dr. Blasey has identified as being in the room during Kavanaugh’s alleged attack on her. She also said she wants the FBI to investigate all three allegations against Kavanaugh, and eviscerated Republicans’ attempts to push Kavanaugh’s nomination forward. She concluded, “This is not a trial for Dr. Ford. It’s a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh.”

10:16 a.m.: Sen. Grassley introduced Rachel Mitchell, the career sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona who will question Dr. Blasey on behalf of the committee’s Republican senators. Democrats will ask their own questions.

Acknowledging the two additional sexual abuse accusations against Kavanaugh that became public this week, Sen. Grassley said his aides made eight requests to Deborah Ramirez’s and six to Julie Swetnick’s lawyers to make their clients available for interview, but received no response.

10:06 a.m.Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, gaveled the session to order. He said, “I want to apologize to you both [Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey] for the way you’ve been treated” over the last few weeks. Sen. Grassley then reviewed the case history and noted that the FBI conducted six background checks on Kavanaugh before he was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

10:04 a.m.: Dr. Blasey Ford has arrived at the hearings. Outside, protestors on both sides are demonstrating against the hearings—some in support of Dr. Blasey, and others for Kavanaugh.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Background:

In an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month, Dr. Blasey alleged that at a small high school party in 1982, an intoxicated Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, attempted to remove her clothing, and covered her mouth so she couldn’t scream or make any sounds. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she said. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusations, telling Fox News this week that he’s not even sure he ever met Dr. Blasey in high school. Meanwhile, two other women have since come forward with sexual misconduct allegations of their own.

These hearings have drawn comparisons to the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of workplace sexual harassment. Thomas was confirmed by an all-white, all-male panel of senators. In fact, three of the senators who questioned Hill 27 years ago—Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy—will be present for Dr. Blasey’s testimony.

Back then, the optics were bad—a panel of 13 white men questioning a black woman about sexual harassment in graphic detail, and ultimately dismissing her testimony. To attempt to remedy that situation this time around, Republicans have hired a woman, Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to question Dr. Blasey. Democrats will do their own questioning.

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