Christine Ford Testifies Against Brett Kavanaugh In Emotional Hearing
Fighting to salvage his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh angrily and tearfully denied on Thursday a university professor’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.
The court was told earlier during a dramatic U.S. Senate hearing she was “100 percent certain” he did it.
Christine Blasey Ford, her voice sometimes cracking with emotion, appeared in public for the first time to detail her allegation against Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge chosen by President Donald Trump for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court. Ford told the committee she feared Kavanaugh would rape and accidentally kill her during the alleged assault when both her high school students in Maryland.
Kavanaugh testified after Ford finished her appearance, and they were never in the hearing room together.
“I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge,” Kavanaugh told the Judiciary Committee.
Calling himself a victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination,” Kavanaugh, speaking passionately, said he “unequivocally and categorically” denied Ford’s allegation.
Kavanaugh at times choked back tears, especially when he mentioned that his daughter suggested they pray for Ford, when he spoke of his father and when he mentioned women friends who have rallied to support him.
The momentous hearing could determine whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Senate after a pitched political battle between Trump’s fellow Republicans and Democrats who oppose the nominee.
Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said over four hours of testimony that a drunken Kavanaugh attacked her and tried to remove her clothing at a gathering of teenagers in Maryland when he was 17-years-old and she was 15 in 1982.
Kavanaugh said he wanted to testify as soon as Ford’s allegation first emerged and was not surprised that other allegations followed.
“In those 10 long days, as was predictable and as I predicted, my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.”
The delay in scheduling a hearing “has been horrible to me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country,” Kavanaugh said.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh added.
Looking somber, Kavanaugh was accompanied by his wife as he entered the hearing room. He sharply attacked Democratic senators, an unusual move by a sitting judge nominated to the Supreme Court, saying he was the victim of “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” after it earlier appeared he was heading toward confirmation. He accused the Democrats of “lying in wait,” with the Ford allegations, only revealing them publicly after his original confirmation hearing was completed.
He was careful not to denounce Ford, noting that he wished her “no ill will.” He said that he was not questioning that Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time, but that he had never assaulted her or anyone.
The hearing, which has riveted Americans and intensified the political polarisation in the United States, occurred against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.
“With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin asked Ford.
“One hundred percent,” she replied, remaining firm and unruffled through hours of testimony even under questioning by a sex crimes prosecutor hired by the committee’s Republicans.
Ford said “absolutely not” when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein asked her if it could be a case of mistaken identity, as Kavanaugh has suggested.
Democrats lauded Ford’s testimony as credible, brave and, in the words of Senator Cory Booker, “nothing short of heroic.”
“I want to thank you for your courage. And I want to tell you I believe you. ... And I believe many Americans across the country believe you,” Democratic Senator Kamala Harris said.
While some Republicans and Trump have called the allegations by Ford and the two other women part of a smear campaign, Ford told the committee she had no political motivation, adding, “I am an independent person and I am no pawn.”
Ford was seated at a table in the packed hearing room flanked by her lawyers, facing a bank of senators. Cameras from news photographers clicked as she entered the room and took her seat, smiling nervously. Ford told the senators she was “terrified” to testify but felt it was her civic duty come forward.
The audience at the hearing remained in rapt attention.