Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual assault, are testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Watch live in the player above. Read more on Ford’s testimony here.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., urged “humility” on the part of senators as they conducted the investigation process.
“This is not a good process, but it’s all we’ve got,” he said. “And I would just urge my colleagues to recognize that in the end, we are 21 very imperfect senators trying to do our best to provide advice and consent, and in the end there is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asked if Kavanaugh had taken a polygraph test related to Ford’s allegations. He responded that he had not.
Harris, like other Democratic senators, asked if Kavanaugh would be willing to ask the White House to direct the FBI to conduct an investigation. “No witness … supports that I was there,” he responded. Harris said, “I’m going to take that as a no, and we can move on.”
She also asked if Kavanaugh watched Ford’s testimony that morning. “I did not,” he said.
Feinstein responded to repeated criticisms by Republican senators that she had kept Ford’s allegations private after receiving a letter from Ford in July.
“I was given some information by a woman who was very much afraid, who asked that it be held confidential and I held it confidential until she decided that she would come forward,” Feinstein said, adding that Ford decided to speak out publicly after being contacted by reporters.
Sen. John Cornyn asked: If Feinstein didn’t leak the letter, who did?
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Thursday’s hearing into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh needed to happen.
But Cruz said Democrats weren’t extending the kind of respect they gave to Ford to Kavanaugh, too.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asks Kavanaugh if he considered Ford a political pawn, Kavanaugh said, “I don’t know her, but I’ve also said that we bear no ill will toward her.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., accused Democratic members of the committee of trying to undermine the confirmation process. Addressing Kavanaugh, he said, “You’re the first major target of a new strategy that’s developed here, and I think you’re right. I think it’s just basically, attack, attack, attack.”
“This is the playbook, this is the way we’re going to run this committee from this point forward?” Tillis asked, saying that the committee had plenty of time to question Kavanaugh about the sexual assault allegation against him privately.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asks why Feinstein did not come forward with the allegation against Kavanaugh over the summer. “Once we were done meeting in public and in private, then this was sprung on you,” Sasse told Kavanaugh. “We could have had this conversation in private.”
Sen. Christopher A. Coons, D-Del., asks “why not agree to a one-week pause” in the confirmation process to allow for an FBI investigation.
“My concern, should you move forward, is what it will do to the credibility of the court and how that may well hang over your service,” he tells Kavanaugh.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, defends Kavanaugh. “This man is not a monster, nor is he what has been represented here in these hearings,” Hatch said. “We’re talking today about Judge Kavanaugh’s conduct in high school.”
There have been no allegations of misconduct during the time Kavanaugh has been a judge, Hatch said. “He was an immature high schooler. So were we all. That he wrote or said stupid things sometimes does not make him a sexual predator.” — Larisa Epatko
Kavanaugh apologizes to Klobuchar, who spoke about her experience with an alcoholic parent, for the exchange. “When you have a parent who’s an alcoholic, you’re pretty careful about drinking,” she responds.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asks if Kavanaugh has ever drank so much that he cannot remember what happened, or part of what happened, the night before. After an exchange, he said no, then asked, “Have you?”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, compared recent events to the McCarthy hearings, referring to a moment in which Army lawyer Joseph Nye Welch asked Sen. Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” Cornyn called the process “outrageous.”
“Don’t give up,” Cornyn said. “The American people are listening to this and they’ll make their decision and I think you’ll come out on the right side of that decision.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked about several references in Kavanaugh’s yearbook, including one to the “Renate Alumni,” which has been interpreted as a sexual reference.
“She was a great friend of ours. A bunch of us went to dances with her,” said Kavanaugh, adding that it did not refer to sex. “To have her name dragged through this hearing is a joke, and really an embarrassment.” Kavanaugh said. “Devil’s triangle,” another phrase used in the yearbook, referred to a drinking game, he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., aimed blame squarely at Democrats in an angry line of questioning. “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020,” Graham said. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
Then, he turned to Kavanaugh. “You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” he said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asks if Kavanaugh wants an FBI investigation. “I welcome whatever the committee wants to do,” he said.
Durbin asked directly if Kavanaugh himself would prefer that. “If there is no truth to [Ford’s] charges, the FBI investigation will show that. Are you afraid that it might not?” he asked.
Kavanaugh called that a “phony question” because “the FBI doesn’t reach conclusions.” Durbin pointed out that the FBI would gather evidence.
“I think an FBI investigation will help all of us on both sides of the issue,” Durbin said.
Mitchell asks if Kavanaugh has been contacted by any members of local police agencies in Montgomery County, Maryland, regarding Ford’s allegations. Kavanaugh responds no.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, asks if Kavanaugh would want his friend Mark Judge — who Ford said was in the room during the alleged attack — called as a witness. “He’s already provided sworn testimony to the committee,” Kavanaugh said.
Leahy asked whether messages in Kavanaugh’s yearbook — one of which referred to him and other boys as “Renate Alumni,” in an apparent sexual reference to a classmate — reflected his character. Considering yearbook messages when judging nominees has “taken us to a new level of absurdity,” Kavanaugh said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asks why Kavanaugh has not asked the FBI to investigate Ford’s statements.
Kavanaugh responded forcefully, saying that he had wanted to defend himself the day after the allegations were reported. “I’ll do whatever the committee wants,” he says.
He also addressed allegations made by two other women, including one by Julie Swetnick, who said Kavanaugh was present at a party where a “gang rape” occurred.
“The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce,” he said.
Kavanaugh also called Ford’s allegation “uncorroborated.” Four people have said in sworn affidavits that Ford confided in them about an attack, including her husband Russell Ford, her friend Adela Gildo-Mazzon, her son’s baseball coach Keith Koegler, and neighbor Rebecca White. Three of Ford and Kavanaugh’s peers have submitted their own sworn statements saying they have no memory of the event.
In a defiant opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh defended himself against allegations of sexual assault while accusing Democrats of turning the confirmation process into a “circus.”
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school, not in college, not ever,” he said.
In testimony before the committee Thursday morning, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a small gathering in the summer of 1982 while they were both in high school.
Ford said that five or six people attended the gathering, and when she left the group to use the bathroom, she was pushed into a bedroom, where Kavanaugh forced himself on top of her. When she tried to scream, she said, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth and she was afraid he may accidentally kill her.
Kavanaugh said that he was not at the party that Ford described.
Since Ford’s allegations have been made public, he said, “my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.”
Kavanaugh, who several times paused as he became emotional, defended himself as someone who has supported women, including in his efforts to hire female law clerks.
Erica Hendry contributed reporting.