WATCH LIVE: Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault accusation against Brett Kavanaugh

0
390

WATCH LIVE on ABC: CLICK HERE.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

- Advertisement -

7:15 p.m.

Senate Republicans are huddling to discuss the next steps on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual assault, California psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, spent hours testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford told senators that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation and said he’s never sexually assaulted anyone.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh’s nomination, unless Republicans decide to postpone it.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second ranking-Republican, says the GOP conference will meet and “see where we are.” But he says the plan is still to have the vote.

7:10 p.m.

The final question to Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee was a spiritual one.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana asked the Supreme Court nominee on Thursday if he believed in God.

When Kavanaugh said he did, Kennedy told him this was a “last opportunity” to testify before “God and country.”

The senator asked the judge to look him in the eye. Then he asked Kavanaugh if the allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford were true.

Kavanaugh says, “They’re not accurate.”

Kavanaugh says he doesn’t question Ford’s testimony that she had been assaulted “by someone, some place.”

But Kavanaugh says he has “never done this to anyone, including her.”

7 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he didn’t watch Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford testify about her accusation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teens.

Both Kavanaugh and Ford spent hours testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Ford going first. Ford told senators that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation and said he’s never sexually assaulted anyone.

Kavanaugh was asked by Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris near the end of the hearing whether he had watched Ford’s testimony.

Kavanaugh responded: “I plan to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”

6:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is backing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling the judge’s testimony during a Senate hearing “powerful, honest, and riveting.” Trump is declaring, “The Senate must vote!”

Trump defended his nominee on Twitter on Thursday shortly after the extraordinary hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded.

The president says the Democrats’ “search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist.”

Kavanaugh defiantly denied allegations he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford when they were high school students. Ford testified earlier in the day that she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh assaulted her.

6:50 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual assault when they were teenagers has adjourned after more than eight hours.

California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford testified first Thursday, saying that she had been terrified to come forward but felt that it was her civic duty. She says Kavanaugh pinned her against a bed when they were in high school, grinded against her and tried to take off her clothes. She says she considers it attempted rape.

Kavanaugh testified afterward, forcefully denying that he had sexually assaulted anyone and saying Democrats were trying to ruin his life.

The panel is set to vote Friday on whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s nomination move forward to the full Senate.

6:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is encouraged by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s passionate denials of Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s claims that he sexually assaulted her in high school.

A White House official told The Associated Press on Thursday 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.

Two Republicans close to the White House say Trump expressed sympathy for Kavanaugh and his family for having to listen to Ford’s tearful recounting of allegations. After seeing Ford’s testimony, White House aides and allies expressed concern that Kavanaugh would have an uphill climb to deliver a strong enough showing.

But they say Trump was encouraged by Kavanaugh’s performance.

5:50 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has apologized after tangling with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (KLOH’-buh-shar) over his drinking in high school.

The senator from Minnesota asked Kavanaugh on Thursday about his drinking habits during a hearing on sexual assault allegations. Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford says Kavanaugh was drunk at the time he sexually assaulted her.

Klobuchar said Kavanaugh wrote in testimony that he sometimes had too many drinks. Klobuchar asked whether he ever drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before. Kavanaugh answered “no.”

In a back-and-forth, he added, “Have you?” and followed up a second time.

Klobuchar said: “I have no drinking problem, Judge.” Kavanaugh responded: “Nor do I.”

After returning from a break, he apologized for asking her that question.

5:05 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Democrats’ treatment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the “most despicable thing” he has seen in politics.

Graham said Thursday 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.

The South Carolina senator says Democrats want to “destroy” Kavanaugh’s life and hold the seat open in the hope of winning the White House in 2020.

Graham says a vote against Kavanaugh would “legitimize the most despicable thing I have ever seen in politics.” He also called the Democrats’ tactics “the most unethical sham.”

Graham supported Republicans’ ultimately successful efforts to block action on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

5 p.m.

In a heated exchange with a Democratic senator, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh dismissed the scrutiny of his high school yearbook as an “absurdity.”

Democratic senators have been bringing up Kavanaugh’s yearbook as they question him about Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s allegation of sexual assault when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Kavanaugh about his yearbook and the “drinking” and “sexual exploits” it mentions. As Kavanaugh started to respond, Leahy tried to cut him off.

Kavanaugh retorted, “I’m going to talk about my high school record if you’re going to sit here and mock me.”

After Kavanaugh talked about how he “busted his butt” on academics and played sports in high school, Leahy said: “We got a filibuster but not a single answer.”

4:35 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is calling certain allegations against him a “joke” and a “farce.”

Kavanaugh made the statements while testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee following allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her in high school. Allegations by other women followed those by Ford.

Kavanaugh was referring specifically to allegations by Julie Swetnick, whose name and allegations became public Wednesday, a day before the hearings. Swetnick said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Kavanaugh “consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women in the early 1980s.”

Kavanaugh was responding to questions from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein when he said: “The Swetnick thing is a joke, that’s a farce.”

Feinstein asked Kavanaugh if he wanted to say more about Swetnick’s allegations. Kavanaugh responded: “No.”
3:10 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is resuming with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh set to testify on allegations he sexually assaulted a girl when both were in high school

Kavanaugh says the allegations are false. California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford testified for nearly four hours on Thursday.

She told senators that Kavanaugh attacked her at a gathering while they were in high school. She says he held his hand over her mouth so no one could hear her scream.

She says the attack is seared in her memory and she is “100 percent” certain that it was Kavanaugh who attacked her.

2:15 p.m.

The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers has finished her testimony before a Senate panel.

California psychology professor Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford finished her testimony Thursday afternoon, about four hours after the hearing began. Ford alleges that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. She said she was ultimately able to escape.

Ford showed no hesitancy in affirming the crucial question about the alleged attack, telling senators her certainty that Kavanaugh was responsible was “100 percent.”

Lawmakers are expected to next hear from Kavanaugh, who has denied the allegations.

12:20 p.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is “100 percent” certain that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high-school teenagers.

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 Thursday 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.

10:55 a.m.

Senators sat riveted on the dais as Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who she says sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s.

Most of the 21 senators on the panel leaned forward. None appeared to take notes. Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota appeared to wipe away a tear.

The room was totally quiet as Ford described the night she said she was assaulted. People stayed in their seats in the small Judiciary committee room where Ford had asked to testify.

It was a far cry from Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month, in which screaming protesters were hauled away at regular intervals. Most attending Thursday’s hearing appear to be ticketed guests of senators, with few if any members of the general public let in.

10:42 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she came before the Senate Judiciary Committee not because she wanted to, but because she believed it’s her civic duty.

Ford spoke Thursday at a hearing on her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her voice cracked as she spoke to the committee, calling Kavanaugh: “the boy who sexually assaulted me.”

She says that the assault has been seared into her memory and has haunted her.

She says Kavanaugh held her down on a bed during a party with a few other high school kids and assaulted her, and put his hand over her mouth so she could not scream. She says she thought he would try to rape her.

Kavanaugh has denied any allegations. He will speak to the committee later Thursday.

___

10:37 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh raise “real questions of character.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says 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 was speaking at the start of a hearing to explore Christine Blasey Ford’s claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Feinstein says 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.

The California Democrat says Republicans already have indicated they intend to proceed with a vote on Kavanaugh.

___

10:25 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says the committee has tried to investigate two other allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but it has not received cooperation from the accusers.

Grassley made the comments Thursday at a hearing where the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is going to testify on her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teens.

Since Ford’s allegations, two other women have said they were assaulted by Kavanaugh. Grassley says the committee made several requests for evidence. He says neither attorney has made their clients available.

Both attorneys have said they have tried to get their clients heard, but the committee won’t listen.

Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.

___

10:20 a.m.

A woman who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he doesn’t belong on the nation’s highest court.

Julie Swetnick said in an interview with Showtime’s “The Circus” that she didn’t want to come forward a day before Kavanaugh was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that “circumstances brought it out that way.” An excerpt of her interview was released Thursday.

In a sworn statement, Swetnick accused Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women, among other accusations.

The Associated Press hasn’t been able to corroborate the claims, and continues to investigate. Both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied misconduct.

Swetnick says she wants the American public to have the facts and “judge for themselves.”

___

10:15 a.m.

The attorney for a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault tweeted a note of support from the woman to Christine Blasey Ford ahead of Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Deborah Ramirez says she is thinking of Ford. She says: “They want us to feel alone and isolated but I’m there wrapping my arms around you.” That’s according to a tweet sent by Ramirez’ lawyer John Clune.

Ramirez says she is holding Ford up in spirit. Ford is testifying Thursday before the committee on her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

___

10:13 a.m.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is opening a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with an apology to both Kavanaugh and his accuser 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 Thursday as his committee hears from both.

Grassley also said it had been a “terrible couple of weeks” for both Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

The committee is expected to hear hours of testimony Thursday. Ford will testify first. Kavanaugh is scheduled to testify later in the day.

___

10:10 a.m.

With the high-stakes hearing for his Supreme Court nominee underway, President Donald Trump is meeting with diplomats at the United Nations.

Trump was scheduled to meet with staff as he concludes his trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

Trump plans to return to Washington later Thursday morning. He has said he will be watching the hearing and has said he could be convinced to change his mind on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though he has continued to strongly defend him.

Kavanaugh faces accusations of sexual misconduct, which he has strongly denied. He and his chief accuser will both appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

___

10:05 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has gaveled into session Thursday’s dramatic hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford, in prepared remarks submitted to the committee, alleges that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes when they were teens. Kavanaugh, in his prepared testimony, says he’s never done anything “remotely resembling” what Ford describes.

Grassley and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will deliver opening statements at the start of the hearing. Then Ford will be sworn in as a witness and deliver her opening statement. Kavanaugh will testify later, after her session is over.

The 11 Republican and 10 Democratic members of the panel will have five minutes each to question Ford and Kavanaugh in alternating turns.

Republicans have hired an outside attorney, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to handle much of their questioning.

 

9:25 a.m.

With a dramatic day of testimony looming, protesters are gathering around the U.S. Capitol building.

Organizers behind the Women’s March plan a “direct action” Thursday morning in the Hart Senate Office Building in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who will testify that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her during a drunken high school party.



Elsewhere, a coalition of conservative women’s groups is planning an “I stand with Brett” rally near the Russell Senate Office Building.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month was marred by dozens of protesters interrupting the hearing even before Ford’s allegation became public.

___

12:35 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is raising the curtain on what promises to be high drama – a hearing in which senators will listen to a woman accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, then weigh his denial.

At stake is President Donald Trump’s second nomination to the high court.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation seemed assured until a California college professor, Christine Blasey Ford, accused the appeals court judge of attempting to rape her when they were high school teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied any sexual misconduct then or in college at Yale, though more women alleging sexual misconduct have come forward.

Kavanaugh defended himself this week in a TV interview. The hearing set to begin Thursday morning will be the first time the country sees and hears from Ford.

__

For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

9/27/2018 9:34:10 AM (GMT -4:00)