Now underway, Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford are set to face questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. Their testimonies will draw into sharp relief the complicated nexus of politics and the #MeToo movement.
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The stakes are high: a lifetime appointment to the swing seat on the Supreme Court. And with just 40 days until the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans in Congress know that women will be watching, both as voters and as candidates.
The hearing is kicking off with statements from Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Followed by opening statements from Ford and Kavanaugh, lawmakers on the dais will alternate questioning
The Republicans are expected to yield their time to their outside counsel, Arizona attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.
Ford and Kavanaugh won’t be face-to-face during the testimony.
In the time since Ford’s story was made public, two other women have also come forward with allegations. Kavanaugh has swiftly and repeatedly denied allegations through Wednesday afternoon.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied each allegation, most publicly in an interview on Fox News Monday night.
Follow along with ABC News as the high stakes hearing unfolds.
10:27 a.m.: Feinstein rebuffs Grassley’s criticisms in opening remarks
Invoking the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement, Feinstein offered a sharp rebuke of Grassley’s criticism of her handling of Ford’s sexual assault allegation, saying any reticence to push forward initially was “because [of] how women are treated in the United States.”
The ranking Democrat on the committee devoted a significant portion of her remarks to underscore the epidemic of sexual violence in this country.
“Sexual violence is a serious problem, and one that largely goes unseen,” she said.
“There’s been a great deal of public discussion about the #MeToo movement today versus the year of the woman almost 27 years ago,” she continued. “But while young women are standing up and saying no more, our institutions have not progressed in how they treat women who come forward. Too often, women’s memories and credibility come under assault. In essence, they are put on trial and forced to defend themselves and often revictimized in the process. ”
10:15 a.m.:Grassley apologizes to Ford and Kavanaugh for ‘vile threats’
Grassley delivered his opening remarks, spending most of his time recounting the process that culminated in the hearing, criticizing Feinstein for her handling of the allegation of sexual assault by Ford “at the 11th hour.”
He apologized for the treatment Ford and Kavanaugh have both endured since the allegation emerged on Sept. 16.
“Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have been through a terrible couple weeks,” Grassley said in his opening remarks. “They and their families have received vile threats. What they have endured ought to be considered by all of us as unacceptable and a poor reflection on the state of civility in our democracy. So I want to apologize to you both for the way you’ve been treated.”
“Now it’s up to the Senate to assess their credibility,” he added. “Which brings us to this very time … The testimony we will hear today concerns allegations of sexual assault, very serious allegations. This is an incredibly complex and sensitive subject to discuss and it’s not an easy one to discuss. That is why the senators on this side of the Diaz believe that an expert who has training in interviewing victims of sexual assault and investigating sexual assault allegations should be asking questions. This will be a stark contrast to the grandstanding and chaos that we saw from the other side during the previous four days in this hearing process.”
10:05 a.m.: The hearing is now underway
The hearing that could decide the fate of the Supreme Court is now underway.
Chairman Grassley opened the hearing with remarks, to be followed by ranking member Feinstein.
With all eyes on Kavanaugh and his accuser, their opening statements will begin shortly.
Actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano supports Dr. Ford from inside the hearing room
Alyssa Milano is sitting mid-hearing room, as the guest of Sen. Feinstein, according to the actress.
She tells ABC News she’s traveled from Los Angeles to support Dr. Ford.
“I felt like I needed to be here to show my solidarity for Dr. Ford,” she said. “On this day that will be very difficult for her.”
She remembers when she was “almost 20” watching the Anita Hill hearings.
“I watched the hearings,” she recounts. “I remember thinking what a strong, amazing, solid woman she was to come forward. What a service she was doing for all women.”
She had “very active parents politically,” she adds.
“We are in a different time. Woman are standing together now in solidarity.”
– ABC News’ Trish Turner reports from inside the Dirksen hearing room.
What To Watch For In Today’s Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing
The FiveThirtyEight team be watching the hearing today, of course.
We’ll also be keeping an eye on what is happening online, what other officials are saying and more. We’ll be looking at how all this affects Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation, and how Kavanaugh’s confirmation fits into the broader cultural moment.
In short, there’s a lot going on. So to keep everything straight, here are some of the main things to watch for.
– Perry Bacon Jr., from ABC News’ partner FiveThirtyEight, REPORTS.
1st Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford ‘ready to tell her truth’ to senators, longtime friend says
“She’s ready,” Samantha Guerry said on “Good Morning America” Thursday of high school classmate Christine Blasey Ford, who’s scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“She’s been spending time alone getting centered and clearing her thoughts but when she shows up today, she will be completely cooperative and ready to tell her truth,” Guerry told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
– ABC News’ Kendall Karson. For more, CLICK HERE.
Kavanaugh hearing could define a political generation: ANALYSIS
It will be a showdown that could define a generation – in politics and well beyond.
When Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning, the issues probed and how the witnesses and their questioners come across could have lasting repercussions for all three branches of government.
At stake is a lifetime appointment to the swing seat on the Supreme Court.
The stakes are even broader for a nation that has grappled with a reassessment of the realities of sexual harassment over the past year.
READ MORE via ABC News’ Rick Klein.
Who is Christine Blasey Ford?
Ahead of her testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford has remained mostly a two-dimensional figure, defined mainly by her resume and her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school in the early 1980s.
As the country awaited the chance to hear from Ford herself, here’s more of her background.
ABC News’ Ali Rogin WRITES.
Who are the key Senate Judiciary Committee members in the Kavanaugh hearing?
The highly anticipated hearing is the culmination of days-long debates in Washington and nationally about the implications of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high schoolers in suburban Maryland.
The 21 committee members – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – are expected to press both Ford and Kavanaugh for details. Republicans are expected to yield their time to Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor from Arizona, to question Ford.
Here’s what you need to know about key members of the committee.
– ABC News’ Max Hamid. For more, CLICK HERE.
Brett Kavanaugh: Everything you need to know about Trump’s Supreme Court pick
Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump‘s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, is a longtime judge on the federal appeals court often referred to as the second-highest court in the land.
Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, three years after George W. Bush nominated him to the post. At 53, Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could reasonably expect to serve on the Supreme Court well into the middle of the century — no doubt an attractive prospect to President Trump, who intentionally targeted young candidates for the posting, sources told ABC News.
ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman REPORTS.
Read Kavanaugh’s opening statement: ‘Effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out’
In his prepared opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a day before Thursday’s expected dramatic showdown with one of his accusers, Brett Kavanaugh says “this effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out.”
The Republican-controlled committee sent out Kavanaugh’s statement as new allegations against Kavanaugh rocked the nation’s capital and raised new questions about the fate of his nomination.
Read the entire statement HERE.
Trump rejects FBI investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh
President Donald Trump again strongly defended his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Wednesday, rejecting any suggestion he order a new FBI investigation into the multiple sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him, including an explosive new allegation from a third accuser.
“Here there was nothing to investigate,” Trump said in New York, at only his second solo news conference in the U.S. “They didn’t know location, year. They didn’t know anything,” he said, apparently referring to the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted him when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the accusation.
– ABC News’ Meridith McGraw. For more, CLICK HERE.
What Kavanaugh’s Thursday hearing could mean for Republicans as they fight to maintain a majority
On Thursday, Brett Kavanaugh and one of the women who accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee just 24 hours before the committee is scheduled to vote on his nomination.
ABC’s Political Director Rick Klein and Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran sat down this week on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” to discuss the history and controversy surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination and what it could mean for Republicans merely 41 days ahead of the midterms.
2nd Brett Kavanaugh accuser certain about alleged encounter, her lawyer says
The attorney for the second woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct expressed his disapproval of how President Trump has mocked her account, adding that his client is certain about the alleged encounter.
“I found that comment by the president to be pretty disgusting and pretty hurtful,” John Clune, attorney for accuser Deborah Ramirez, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” Wednesday.
He added: “She believes wholeheartedly that it was Mr. Kavanaugh.”
READ MORE via ABC News’ Nataly Pak.
Rachel Mitchell named as prosecutor set to question Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley reversed course just hours after he said he would not reveal the name of the prosecutor hired by the GOP to question the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault and released a statement saying Rachel Mitchell would be tasked with the job.
Mitchell, a career prosecutor from Maricopa County, Arizona, will be interviewing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.
Kavanaugh has strenuously denied the claims, saying he was not even present at the party she alleges the assault took place.
ABC News’ Mark Osborne WRITES.
On Kavanaugh allegations, Murkowski sends message to GOP: ‘Take them seriously’
While her party’s leaders are plowing ahead with their support for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the key swing votes, wants the sexual assault allegation to be taken seriously.
“It’s very important to take allegations of those who have come forward, to take them seriously and I think we need to go into this hearing with the view that we will listen to Dr. Ford’s story, we will listen to Judge Kavanaugh’s response and then we will weigh what we have heard,” the Alaska Republican told a massive scrum of reporters. “I think it’s important to have the hearing, to get this out on the record and then to move on from there.”
READ MORE via ABC News’ Mary Bruce, Ali Rogin and Mariam Khan.
Kavanaugh allegations put GOP candidates in an untenable bind as midterms approach
The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace him on the nation’s highest court was supposed to calm jittery Republican nerves about a disengaged base.
The worry: that Republican voters would stay home this November in what promises to be a critical midterm election that could see control of both the U.S. House and Senate slip from GOP control.
– ABC News’ John Verhovek. For more, CLICK HERE.
‘I’m not going anywhere’: Kavanaugh in emotional Fox interview
Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s embattled Supreme Court nominee, spoke out Monday in an extraordinary and emotional interview with Fox News, saying, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone” and insisting, “I’m not going anywhere.”
The interview, which aired Monday evening, followed a day-long effort by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to save Kavanaugh’s nomination after a second accuser’s story surfaced in The New Yorker on Sunday. A former Yale University classmate, Deborah Ramirez, claims Kavanaugh exposed himself at a dorm party and “thrust his penis in her face.”
READ MORE via ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett.
Kavanaugh mocked after citing virginity, strict social calendar in latest defense
Comedians mocked Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday after he discussed his virginity and claimed a decades-old social calendar would help to exonerate him from sexual assault allegations.
“He claims he kept calendars detailing his social engagements from 1982 that will help to exonerate him,” Jimmy Kimmel said on “Live” Monday. “What 17-year-old keeps calendars of his social engagements? No wonder he was a virgin!”
Kavanaugh defended himself in an emotional interview on Monday after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct over the weekend.
– ABC News’ Karma Allen. For more, CLICK HERE.