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Daniel Dale @ddale8
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Judiciary Committee chairman Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley opens the hearing. "Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have been through a terrible couple weeks," he says, citing threats they have received.
Grassley apologizes to both Ford and Kavanaugh for how they've been treated. He says he wants a hearing that is "safe, comfortable and dignified" for both of them, and wants "civility" from his senator colleagues.
Grassley is defending Kavanaugh: "Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports...was there a whiff of any issue, any issue at all, related in any way to inappropriate sexual behaviour."
Grassley is criticizing Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her handling of this matter, noting that she didn't immediately disclose Blasey Ford's allegations and didn't raise them in her meeting with Kavanaugh.

He says Feinstein has treated Blasey Ford badly.
Grassley notes that Kavanaugh "denied the allegations categorically," under penalty of perjury, in taking questions privately from the committee, and that a longtime friend of Blasey Ford said she does not know Kavanaugh or remember such a party.
Grassley says Democrats are only pushing for an FBI investigation because they want to block Kavanaugh "by any means necessary."
Grassley says he is "looking forward to a fair and respectful hearing." He says there is no valid reason to complain that a trained (female) prosecutor, rather than the (male) Republican senators, will be questioning Blasey Ford for them.
Grassley says he understands there are "two other public allegations" against Kavanaugh, but this hearing was scheduled only to deal with Blasey Ford's, and he has not had "co-operation" from lawyers for Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick so far.
Now Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the committee. She rejects Grassley's claim that she mishandled this. She says Blasey Ford initially wanted to keep this confidential, so she kept it confidential.
Feinstein introduces Blasey Ford's professional and personal credentials - PhD, professor, 65 peer-reviewed articles, awards, wife, mother, Californian. "I am very grateful to you for your strength and your bravery in coming forward. I know it's hard," she says.
Feinstein provides some context about the reporting of sexual assault, noting that many people stay silent. She says she just heard from a constituent who told her about an assault 43 years prior. "I think it's important to remember these realities as we hear from Dr. Ford."
Feinstein notes that Anita Hill's allegations were reviewed by the FBI. She says that is "the normal process, and squarely within its jurisdiction," but Trump is refusing this time.
Feinstein criticizes Republicans for refusing to compel Kavanaugh's high school friend Mark Judge, whom Blasey Ford alleges was involved in this incident, to testify before the committee.
Feinstein criticizes Republicans for comments like McConnell's about how they're going to "plow right through" and confirm Kavanaugh regardless. She notes that additional accusers have come forward after McConnell said this.
Blasey Ford outwardly appeared calm until Feinstein outlined the details of additional allegations against Kavanaugh, which appeared to prompt some deep breaths.
Feinstein is listing both the assault allegations against Kavanaugh and the multiple general claims that Kavanaugh was a much heavier drinker as a young man than he has suggested.
Feinstein: "This is not a trial of Dr. Ford. It's a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh." She says the question today is, "Is he the best we can do?"
Blasey Ford chokes up a bit, but continues, as she says, "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school."
Blasey Ford is reading her prepared testimony, providing background about her interactions with Kavanaugh, whom she calls "Brett." The full testimony is here.…
Blasey Ford says "I truly wish I could be more helpful with more detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place, and so fort," but she'll never forget the assault, which has "haunted" her.
Blasey Ford, emotional, recounts the alleged assault. Here's what she said; small additions and changes from her prepared text are in bold.
Blasey Ford: "Brett's assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details." Says that because Kavanaugh did not rape her, she decided for years that she should just pretend it never happened.
Blasey Ford has sounded to be on the verge of tears for her entire statement, but she has kept it together.
"This was an extremely hard thing for me to do," Blasey Ford says of calling the Washington Post's tip line with her story, "but I felt I couldn't not do it."
Blasey Ford says she "agonized daily" about whether to speak out, and her fears increased; she read in the press that Kavanaugh's confirmation was "virtually certain," so she thought she'd be "drowned out" if she came forward, had "resigned myself to remaining quiet."
Blasey Ford said she only decided to speak when news of her letter was reported and journalists started contacting her, so she thought it was "inevitable" her name would be revealed no matter what. "It was important to me to describe the details of the assault in my own words."
Blasey Ford said the retribution has been "far worse than what I expected," with "constant harassment and death threats." Says she's being protected by security guards. Says "these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life" aside from the assault itself.
Blasey Ford has concluded her opening statement. She requests "some caffeine." When Grassley asks if she wants a break, she says cheerfully, "I'm okay, I got the coffee."
Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona prosecutor hired by Republicans, starts politely. Says it's "not right" that she's been made to feel terrified.
Mitchell begins by asking Blasey Ford about the accuracy of text messages she exchanged with the Post. Blasey Ford says she wants to correct one thing - in haste, she described someone at the party as a "bystander" even though that person is a nice guy who wasn't involved at all.
Asked about the accuracy of her letter to Feinstein, Blasey Ford says she wants to address three things: 1) "I can't guarantee that there weren't a few other people there," more than four. 2) Can't promise "Mark Judge didn't assist" Kavanaugh in pushing her into the bedroom.
It's Feinstein's turn for questions. She asks why Blasey Ford held this in all these years. She responds, "I haven't held it all these years. I did disclose it in the confines of therapy," where she thought it was appropriate.
She didn't have time to get to #3 in that round of questions - Grassley said he had to go to Feinstein.
Blasey Ford is outlining what she says were consequences from the assault for her life: anxiety about being confined, "academic problems," struggles in developing friendships with boys.
Asked how she is so sure it was Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford says, "The same way that I'm sure that I'm talking to you right now. Basic memory functions." She then cites brain chemicals - I think it was brain chemicals! - that I do not know how to spell.
(Blasey Ford was talking about norepinephrine and epinephrine.)
Mitchell is slowly leading Blasey Ford to talk about the gathering where she says the assault occurred. Asked about the "atmosphere," she says Kavanaugh and Judge were "extremely inebriated," and had clearly been drinking before, while others there "were not."
Blasey Ford: "It was not really a party, like the news has made it sound." She says it was a kind of "pre-gathering" she assumed the boys would follow by attending a real party later than she was allowed to be out at 15.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy's turn. He tells Blasey Ford that "millions of victims out there" have been "inspired by your courage," says "bravery is contagious."
Leahy asks how she knew Kavanaugh and Judge, and whether it's possible she mixed them up with others. She says, "No it is not. And the person that was blamed for the incident is actually the person who introduced me to them originally."
Asked what her stongest memory of the incident is, Blasey Ford says: "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two."
Leahy enters evidence about how "lapses of memory are wholly consistent with severe trauma."
"I'm used to being collegial," Blasey Ford smiles during another polite mid-testimony procedural exchange with Grassley.
Asked if she's expressed everything she remembers from the gathering, Blasey Ford pauses and says, "I believe so, but if there other questions, I will attempt to answer them."
Asked by Republican questioner Mitchell how she knew there was a conversation downstairs even though she couldn't hear it from upstairs, Blasey Ford says, "I'm just assuming that since it was a social gathering, people were talking."
Mitchell gives Blasey Ford a map she says show the location of various people's houses at the time. Blasey Ford says she'll confirm the homes she knows for sure and will note the ones she doesn't. Mitchell asks her to just confirm her own house. She confirms it.
Sorry, correcting this quote: Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin: For every threat and "pathetic tweet," there are "thousands of Americans, women and men, who believe you, support you, and thank you for your courage." Says it's no wonder women are reluctant to come forward.
Durbin, addressing the "mistaken identity" theories: With what degree of certainty do you say Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you? Blasey Ford: "One hundred per cent."
Blasey Ford recalls running into Mark Judge at a supermarket "six to eight weeks" after the incident: "I said hello to him and his face was white and very uncomfortable saying hello back...I wouldn't characterize him as not friendly...he looked a little bit ill."
They're taking a 15-minute break.
CNN’s John King reads a message from an unnamed Republican close to the leadership, who says the first segment of the hearing was “awful for Kavanaugh” and that their sense is that this is “slipping away.”
Hearing resumes with Republican lawyer Mitchell, who is putting up another map. "We drew a one-mile radius around the country club and then we calculated..." She asks if it's fair to say someone drove her to or from the party. Blasey Ford says yes, but doesn't know who.
Mitchell is challenging Blasey Ford on her statements about when the incident occurred: "early 80s," "summer of 1982." Asks how she was able to narrow down the time frame. Blasey Ford said she's just "using memories of when I got my driver's license," which she didn't have at 15.
Mitchell is now questioning Blasey Ford about the therapists' notes that mention her talking about an assault. Mitchell points out that the notes don't say Kavanaugh's name.
The format is a bit confusing - they alternate Republican and Democratic, five minutes each. The Republicans give their time to Mitchell, who does a bit of courtroom-style examination, then Democratic senators ask supportive questions, then back to Mitchell's examination.
Grassley is taking issue with Democrats' criticism of this process. He says he immediately directed staff to do an investigation after the Post article featuring Blasey Ford, quickly offered Blasey Ford a chance to testify, and contacted Mark Judge "requesting an interview."
Back to Mitchell, who asks if the WashPost is correct that she showed them her therapists' notes. Blasey Ford says she doesn't remember if the Post reporter was shown a physical copy, was given a summary, or saw it in her lawyer's office.
Mitchell notes that the Post said the assault "contributed" to her anxiety and PTSD. She asks Blasey Ford if there are "other things that have happened" to cause these symptoms. Blasey Ford says the "etiology" of these issues is always "multi-factorial."
Mitchell: How did you get to Washington? Blasey Ford: "In an airplane." Mitchell: We heard you had a fear of flying. Blasey Ford: I was hoping they'd come to me, but then I realized "that was an unrealistic request." She says she was "able to get up the gumption."
Mitchell is, at length, challenging Blasey Ford on her statement that she has a fear of flying.

Mitchell: "You fly fairly frequently" for "hobbies" and "for your work." Blasey Ford: "Correct, unfortunately."
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar thanks Blasey Ford, asks why she decided to take a polygraph. Blasey Ford says her lawyers asked if she was willing, "and I said absolutely." She adds that it caused almost as much anxiety "as an airplane flight."
Blasey Ford is insisting on precision, sometimes correcting herself or openly expressing uncertainty about a particular point.
Klobuchar asks what she remembers vividly. Blasey Ford: "The stairwell. The living room. The bedroom. The bed on the right side of the room as you walk into the room...the bathroom in close proximity. The laughter, the uproarious laughter. And the multiple attempts to escape..."
Mitchell says she's going to "shift gears" from the alleged incident in 1982 to recent months this year.
Asked why she contacted the Post before Congress, Blasey Ford says, "I was panicking because I knew the timeline was short for the decision and people were giving me advice on the beach, people who don't know about the processes that they were giving me advice (on)."
Blasey Ford said she called Rep. Eshoo and also sent the tip to the Post. Unfortunately, she says, neither got back to her before Kavanaugh was announced as the nominee.
Asked who advised her to contact the NYT or WaPo, she says, "Beach friends coming up with ideas of how I could try to get to people." Asked why she didn't contact the NYT, she says she "wasn't interested in pursuing the media route, one (the Post) was enough."
Asked what she told Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo at their meeting, she said she described the incident and asked what her options were, "and also talked to her about fears about whether this was confidential information."
Democratic Sen. Coons thanks Blasey Ford. He notes Blasey Ford first came forward before Kavanaugh was the nominee. She says, "I felt it was very important to get the information to you, but I didn't know how to do it while there was still a short list."
Coons denounces "boys will be boys" mindset about high schoolers, asks for her reaction. Blasey Ford: "I can only speak for how it has impacted me greatly for the last 36 years...the younger you can possibly have worse impact...than when your brain is fully developed."
Mitchell resumes. She asks if Blasey Ford talked about her allegations with any Republican members of Congress. Blasey Ford says no, noting that her members of Congress are Democrats.
Mitchell: "Did anyone help you write the letter?" Blasey Ford: "No."
Mitchell now asks Blasey Ford why she originally didn't want a lawyer but then hired one. She says that people advised her to get a lawyer. Mitchell asks if those people include Eshoo and Feinstein. She says no.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal: "You're a teacher, correct? You have given America an amazing teaching moment."
Mitchell resumes, asking about the polygraph Blasey Ford took. Asks why she took it. Blasey Ford: "I didn't see any reason not to do it."
Mitchell asks if she's taken any other polygraphs in her life. Blasey Ford: "Never."
Mitchell then asks if anyone advised her to choose the particular polygraph man she chose. Blasey Ford says yes. Mitchell then asks why they did it near an airport. Blasey Ford says it was the day of her grandmother's funeral and she was on a tight schedule.
Mitchell: You did a polygraph on the day of your grandmother's funeral? Blasey Ford: Yes, or maybe it was the day after.
Mitchell is challenging Blasey Ford at length about the polygraph, which Blasey Ford passed. Blasey Ford says her primary memory was that she was "crying a lot." Says you can tell how anxious she was because of the "terrible handwriting" in her pre-polygraph statement.
They've taken a lunch recess. Wolf Blitzer's immediate words on CNN: "She comes across very's unclear what the outside counsel's driving at."
How do people think this has gone so far?
On Fox News, John Roberts says a White House official told him Blasey Ford is a "very credible witness."
On Fox, Chris Wallace says there are no doubt "huge gaps" in Blasey Ford's story, but "I've been schooled by my daughters on this subject," and victims of sexual assaults sometimes have major memory gaps.
The hearing has resumed. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono begins by criticizing Republican prosecutor Mitchell for asking questions Hirono says are irrelevant and inappropriate.
Hirono delivers a general condemnation of Trump: "The president admits on tape to assaulting women, he separates children from their parents..."
Mitchell's turn again. She asks about payment for Blasey Ford's polygraph. One of her lawyers interjects to say, "Let me put an end to this...her lawyers have paid for her polygraph." Another lawyer says, "As is routine." Mitchell asks if she expects to eventually pay herself.
Blasey Ford says she's not sure - she says she knows there are GoFundMes for her, but she doesn't know how to collect the money because "I've never had one." Mitchell is puzzled by the word GoFundMe.
Mitchell asks if she "reached back out" to the Post after her letter became public. Blasey Ford says, "They were continuously reaching out to me, and I was not responding," but then decided to talk once reporters started showing up at her house.
Booker asks Blasey Ford how her kids are doing. She says, "They're doing fairly well, considering, thank you for asking."
Booker says it's "unacceptable" how the country deals with sexual assault survivors. "Your brilliance, shining a light onto this, speaking your truth, is nothing short of heroic," he says.
Mitchell asks Blasey Ford if she had help choosing her lawyers. She said she got advice from people she knows in the D.C. area to get referrals, and got suggestions from Feinstein's staff.
Mitchell asks if there are efforts to pay her legal fees aside from GoFundMes. She says there are people in Palo Alto who have the money to help her with her "security detail." Her lawyer jumps in to say the lawyers are working pro bono.
Mitchell asks about the classmate Ed Whelan baselessly alleged Blasey Ford might have confused with Kavanaugh. Blasey Ford says, "I just don't feel like it's right for us to be talking about that." Mitchell persists.
Blasey Ford says she "went out with" (dated) for a "few months," the student she and Kavanaugh both knew, I think the same student Whelan was alleging she confused with Kavanaugh.
Mitchell asks about other interactions she had with Kavanaugh. Blasey Ford says they were at four or five parties together. Mitchell asks if there were any incidents at those parties. Blasey Ford: “There was no sexual assault," if that's what you were asking.
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris: "You clearly have nothing to gain...You have been a true patriot...You are a true profile in courage."
Mitchell asks whether her friend Leland Keyser ever checked in with her after the party to ask what happened. Blasey Ford says no: "She didn't know about the event. She was downstairs...and I did not share it with her."
Mitchell asks about statements from the other people Blasey Ford says were present, who say they don't remember any such gathering. She says she wouldn't expect they would, since "it was a very unremarkable party": "Nothing remarkable happened to them."
Asked about her friend Leyland Keyser saying she does not recall such a gathering, Blasey Ford says Keyser has health issues she is taking care of (she does not specify), and that Keyser texted her an apology after the do-not-recall statement from her lawyer came out.
Mitchell says she has no further questions.
Blasey Ford's lawyers asked if she can be excused. As senators have an exchange amongst themselves, Grassley says, "Let's just be nice to her." He thanks Blasey Ford for her "bravery." She is finished. They're taking a 45-minute break before Kavanaugh.
Asked if he finds Blasey Ford credible, senior Republican Sen. John Cornyn says, "I found no reason to find her not credible." He says there are gaps in her story, but people who are traumatized have such gaps. "She did just fine," he says.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says Dems "set it up" to push the confirmation past the midterms. "I feel ambushed," he says. He says that although she claims to be "100%" certain, she can't say how she got to the party or got home, and Kavanaugh is 100% certain he didn't do it.
Asked if he found Blasey Ford credible, Lindsey Graham says, "I didn't find her allegations to be corroborated against Mr. Kavanaugh. I don't doubt something happened to her."
Graham: "She is just as much a victim of this as I think Brett Kavanaugh. Because somebody betrayed her trust." He is arguing that Kavanaugh is a victim because he's being falsely accused by Blasey Ford, and she is a victim of Democrats because she didn't want to come forward.
Karl Rove, who knows Kavanaugh well, on Fox News: "We saw an emotional and credible witness." He's mostly attacking Democrats rather than her.
On Fox, Andrew Napolitano says Rachel Mitchell "fortified" Blasey Ford's credibility
by asking questions that prompted her to offer “amiable, rational, emotional, attractive, reasonable explanations at almost every opportunity.” He says Republicans are in a deep hole.
Napolitano on Fox: We'll see what happens after Kavanaugh testifies, but as of now, "It's a disaster for the White House."
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