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Alexandra S. Pumpkins @alexandraerin
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I missed catching Grassley's opening statement live and I'm kind of glad for it. The quotes are disgusting.
Chuck Grassley just told Diane Feinstein that "other issues will be considered at other times". Is that a promise, @ChuckGrassley? #KavanaughHearings
The hitch in Dr. Blasey's voice as she reads her opening statement is gutwrenching.
I just saw a male reporter in my search feed noting Dr. Blasey "sounds emotional". I have all kinds of thoughts about that bland observation.
I've decided I'm not going to be livetweeting this hearing in the sense of transcribing; there are enough people doing that. But I am watching it so I can speak about what happens.
The way the hurt surges a bit each time she mentions her civic duty just drives home how much she's not here for herself. She attributes the way she came forward to not knowing how to best get the information to the government, which is very valid.
One thing about Dr. Blasey's courage in doing this.

If I had to do this, I would be very worried that I couldn't get through it without breaking down. Meaning I would worry it's not worth doing if I couldn't do it without showing emotion.

She's showing us we can do it anyway.
Dr. Blasey's testimony is a testament to the fact that you can show damage without breaking down, and you can keep going. You can keep going anyway.
"I am an independent person and I am no one's pawn." - Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Wow, having Mitchell questioning Dr. Blasey for the GOP while operating on a five minute time limit belonging to individual GOP senators is such a dysfunctional way of doing this. I'd say it's a circus but I have way too much respect for performers.
The GOP's idea of investigation here is beyond parody. I just. This is. If you're not watching this, it's hard to get an idea what a travesty this proceeding is. Five Minutes With A Sex Crimes Prosecutor is a reality show, not an investigation.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Gotham) just weighed in to chastise Grassley that they have not stopped the proceedings to properly investigate, declares the committee failed Professor Anita Hill, and says they are doing *less* for the women today.
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter." She remembers them laughing at her, at her expense, with each other.

Watch for the Trumplanders to latch on this and claim that this is actually about boys making a fool of her. They'll say hurting someone's feelings isn't assault.
I think in the absence of time to investigate or even question, Mitchell has made it her priority to get Dr. Blasey to annotate as needed and sign off on every piece of information they have in writing. In an actual case her testimony would be used to get her account on record.
I just don't know what actual point making sure the record is clear and accurate when there isn't going to be anything further than this hearing. It feels a bit like busy work to run out the clock while appearing to take it seriously.
We don't know what Rachel Mitchell's job as she sees it really is. It is hurtful that Dr. Blasey is being questioned this way, like she's on trial, but in an actual trial, lawyers do question their own witnesses to make sure their testimony is correct and beyond reproach.
The bottom line is I don't think we can really judge what Mitchell is doing until we see how she handles Kavanaugh. What I'm seeing *could be* consistent with someone trying to get the truth on record in a ridiculous format dictated to her by Grassley's refusal to investigate.
All that said, I know how it's playing in Trumpland: they are saying that she's making a fool of Dr. Blasey, exposing inconsistencies, making her stumble over her story.

But so far it's just clarifications of the available documentation of her account. Nothing contradicted.
That clinical analysis aside, this is a horrible venue and a horrible format calculated to produce a horrible experience. If @ChuckGrassley cared about the truth, a skilled lawyer would be getting Dr. Blasey's account in her own words in a private setting.
This is where I am. Rachel Mitchell might be a partisan but I'm not sure she's willing to torpedo her reputation as a sex crimes prosecutor for these guys on national TV.

This business with the maps, though, that seems like something the GOP specifically pushed Mitchell to show. It added no clarity and allowed them to allude to the doppelganger conspiracy theory.
Senator Whitehouse has very deftly alluded to the fact that sometimes prosecutors don't have the evidence to go forward with a trial, then lays out how Dr. Blasey meets the definition of a credible case.
Dr. Blasey just had to admit she didn't know the definition of "exculpatory"... get ready for a bunch of MAGA-heads to start acting like they throw it around on a daily basis.
The contempt @ChuckGrassley has for having to acknowledge any of this is palpable. And nauseating.
Dr. Blasey's declining to swear to things she doesn't specifically remember is going to be held against her but again, it's a sign that she's speaking in sincerity, not reciting a rehearsed story and recounting orchestrated events.
Dr. Blasey very open about the fact that she didn't have a route/process for dealing with this, getting the information to someone who could use it. Again, MAGA is going to act like this is all basic stuff everybody knows, like this isn't a credible dilemma to find oneself in.
Questions about who was advising Dr. Blasey are alluding to the notion that these women were recruited and coached, but in asking them, Mitchell gave her a chance to dismiss those conspiracy theories.
I know it's brutal but rumblings are that the GOP *deeply* regrets bringing in a sex crimes prosecutor. Despite obvious sidelines inserted by the Senate Judiciary Republicans, Mitchell is getting the most accurate version of Dr. Blasey's personal report on the record under oath.
And while I do think some of the lines of questioning were dictated by the Senate GOP, Mitchell is asking questions on a continuing basis. The time she's using comes from individual GOP Senators because of the format; that doesn't mean the questions are from the member named.
CBS commentators are puzzling over what if anything Mitchell is building towards. I agree with them that she's not. This isn't Phoenix Wright and it's not Encyclopedia Brown. There's not going to be an "AHA!" moment. She's interviewing a witness.
The GOP PR strategy on this has been to say they'll give Dr. Blasey a chance to tell her story. I think 60% of what they're doing is just having Mitchell be very businesslike so they can say they did that and 40% is inserting allusions to conspiracy theories they saw on Twitter.
I think Grassley's play at the end of the day is it doesn't matter *what* Mitchell uncovers because he didn't hire Mitchell to make a determination; he'll "listen" but he's already decided.
Yesterday I cried so much. Today, because life doesn't stop for atrocities, I sat and literally sliced onions for making dinner later while listening to the CBS ~*highlights*~ as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said "indelible in the hippocampus is laughter" and I am out of tears.
I can't see everything obviously but from my personal survey it seems like nobody on the news or talking to the news from a position of power seems to think that this is helping the GOP case for Kavanaugh at all.
The GOP might have pushed for particular questions but in a trial, as a prosecutor introducing Dr. Blasey as a witness, Mitchell would be bringing up the "Could you be mistaken? Were you coached?" questions herself so that they could be addressed and dismissed by the witness.
Again, it's a brutal process and the venue as constructed by the GOP is obscene, but so far, I have to agree with the impression that they're going to regret this decision.

Note that I don't think it will change Grassley's pre-determined conclusion.
Buuuuuuuut I think one of the reasons Grassley won't change his mind is it's not his mind to change. McConnell and even more so Trump have dictated this. It'll fall apart if Trump blinks, or if they don't have the votes.
True but not the whole story. That they haven't had the votes so far doesn't mean they won't in the future, if the waverers feel like they can credibly say they gave her a hearing and she didn't make her case. We should assume Kavanaugh is still in play.

Who knows how many of the no/uncertain votes were really "Look, Chuck, I'll vote yes, but we have to make it look good."?
That they haven't just told the White House it can't happen suggests that none of the No votes are a firm line. It means they're still looking for a way to get to yes.
They're not going to say no to any port in this sugar storm, but that strikes me as a Hail Mary when they can't keep their own members in order.

By the way, I expect Chuck Grassley, during Kavanaugh's hearing, to spend a lot of time that no one else gets yelling about how they're not here to talk about Kavanaugh's drinking or character or conduct or any other allegations, in response to Democrats getting stuff on record.
Dr. Blasey sounds hoarser after the break than she did before. I don't know that it was much of a break for her. What a thing to endure. What a thing for a human spirit to weather.
Emphasizing again because I've seen people speculate about why specific GOP senators would ask specific topics - note the continuity in Mitchell's questioning. What she asks when is dictated by the clock, not whose turn it is on the GOP side.
Mitchell's got a list of questions and she's going through them as time allows. The polygraph questions started while it was Flake's time and are continuing now. We can't know who, if anyone, specified she should ask about it.
Grassley saying she's asking questions "for ______" just indicates whose turn is providing Mitchell with the current 5 minute interval. Hope I'm making sense, this is a ridiculous venue and process for this.
It's interesting to note what seems like a moment of rapport between Mitchell and Dr. Blasey as she asks about being coached on the questions in advance. I feel like Mitchell fully expects the answer to be no, on the record, even if the GOP thought it might expose something.
I just missed a bit of testimony but it sounded like Dr. Blasey just said she went out with Whelan's fall guy. If so, it really puts a nail in the coffin of the theory she could have mistaken him and Brett.
Really sounds like Mitchell is fed up with the proceedings.
Chuck Grassley: "Let's just be nice to her."

This is what I'm referring to when I say Mitchell sounds fed up. I see people saying she's trying to attribute it as Ford's decision but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think this is her objection, shoehorned into the format given her.
I know MItchell is a Republican hired by Republicans to represent Republicans but I'm not sure she understood her job the same way Chuck Grassley intended her to. I'm really not.
I'd bet she let Grassley know it wasn't going to be a fruitful process and he doesn't care.
I know the GOP provided questions but the ending seemed to be an attempt to defend herself after Harris brought up the Maricopa County guidelines. She was making notes in response to that.

Throughout the proceedings, Mitchell wasn't just asking questions but doing follow-ups and clarifying/reframing them. It's clear she had some leeway in deference to her expertise; it's not clear how much.
I would imagine from her point of view as an attorney, an officer of the court, and a career prosecutor, she was trying to salvage the horror show of a process. I don't have warm fuzzy feelings for her as a GOP prosecutor, understand. But.

I just feel like a lot of the takes are "Wow, for a hired gun she's sure misfiring a lot." are missing a puzzle piece that Grassley's big goal here wasn't to punch holes in Dr. Blasey's story; it was to literally just say "We gave her a hearing, didn't we?"
The individual GOP members of the committee wanted specific things brought up that they thought would poke holes in the story or introduce doubt but literally Grassley doesn't care what anyone believes except he can say they listened before voting Kavanaugh in.
Sidenote: Senator Durbin is attributing the overall line of questioning to Mitchell. Doesn't mean he's right. But my impression is that she *did* have a line of inquiry she wanted to pursue, but was sidetracked by GOP side quests.
Even Senator Chuck "Female Assistant" Grassley, I don't think, would specifically hire a prosecutor and then not let her steer the process at least somewhat. You don't need expertise for that.
CBS commentator (I have audio but not watching video, don't know who is talking) is talking about "inconsistencies" but she's referring to clarifications: when Dr. Blasey says "two girls" in one place and herself and Leland in another place, they're the two girls. Consistent.
To be very clear I'm not ~*welcoming Rachel Mitchell to the resistance*~. I just think she showed up to be a lawyer and not a heavy hitter, and she did her best to get the most accurate version of the witness's account entered into the record under the circumstances.
There was a report that during one of the breaks Graham was asking why he didn't go after more asking about alcohol affecting her memory and such, and while my connection stuttered at some points I don't think he got that.
So I fully buy the notion that the GOP isn't happy with how that went.
I don't think she was that naive but you don't last as a trial lawyer without understanding that what other people (up to and including your client, if you have them) wants isn't necessarily what needs doing.

And a defense attorney, as I understand it, can't go against their client's express wishes but as a prosecutor I don't think Mitchell is used to having as many constraints and eleven other people's agendas all imposed on her line of questioning.
I'm ready for the Kavanaugh half of the hearing to be even more of a travesty. I fully expect Grassley to try to shut down any Democrat who tries to speak to other cases, Kavanaugh's drinking, character, etc., outside the specific assault on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
As an independent news commentator and analyst, I'm spending my day and what feels like half of my soul on this, so if you see value in my perspective, please consider supporting my work.…
Kavanaugh's decision to not have an attorney's support might be optics and it might be because his understanding is that the woman asking him questions will be his advocate.
Kavanaugh's anger is palpable.
I wonder how many male commentators are going to refer to Kavanaugh's testimony as "emotional".
"I understand the passions of the moment," says Kavanaugh.

That line's going to resonate.
I've made a lot of threads about how white men are allowed access to anger as an emotion and rhetorical device without it reflecting on their credibility or painting them as threats.
"We should pray for the woman" is going right up there with "Let's be nice to her."
Kavanaugh's incredulity just reads so much as a guy who never believed he would be called to account. It's like the affluenza defense. It didn't count because no one told him there could be a reckoning.
Kavanaugh referenced that as a Catholic school boy he mostly attended gatherings with other Catholic school kids. Real life, though, is never as clique-ified as the movies make it seem. Kids in Catholic schools knew other kids.
Kavanaugh says he couldn't have gone to the gathering with friends drinking beers because he spent his time hanging out with friends, drinking beers.

Interesting defense.
Kavanaugh's opening statement is long, rambling, and repetitive to the point that it's hard to believe it's prepared. My impression is a sort of desperate incredulity, he really wants to have his say.
I think he really doesn't trust anyone in the room to save him and wants to do it himself. It's very Trumpian thinking.
He keeps invoking the fact that he has close female friends who went to Catholic school. So maybe he was more reluctant to attack women he recognized as belonging to his social circle.
Now he's admitting that he and his friends were influenced by pop culture depictions of drinking and rape culture... but only to the extent that they made up stuff in their yearbooks.

Is this credible to anyone?
I am just gobsmacked that the idea that he and his friends referring to a female student as "an easy date" meant she was game for going to chaste Catholic school dances at the last minute is part of his official defense.
I fully believe that they were exaggerating their sexual exploits but the idea that the "Alumnus" status they claimed in their yearbooks was supposed to be innocent is amazing.
I honestly believe she wasn't. I see no reason to doubt her assertion that nothing happened with any of the men. She was one of the "good girls" to them, which didn't stop them from insinuating and bragging. I don't think they took their victims to dances

The guy who had his female clerks coached to dress like models is bragging about how much he's done to increase the number of female law clerks.
Please do note that Kavanaugh is cagey about denying knowing Leland after the GOP made so much about her statement that she didn't know him.
Kavanaugh just said it's been alleged he's in a gang. This is a profoundly important thing. To him and the GOP, "gang rape" means "rape by a gang". What he did is just what happens when a girl has loose morals.
The phrase "gang rape" means "gang" as in "ganged up on". But to white conservatives (and a lot of white moderates and even white liberals), the word "gang" is a dog whistle that can't be unheard.
A lot of people don't. That's why I say it's important. The use of the phrase "gang rape", to the GOP listeners especially, is implicitly introducing a whole host of other allegations.

Kavanaugh's assertion that you can tell his calendars are retrospective because he crossed out things that didn't happen... isn't it more believable he would cross out an appointment because it got canceled so he'd know not to go to it, than cross it out after the fact?
The realtime response on the ground in Trumplandia is that he's so genuine, that poor man, he's taking it seriously unlike ~*that woman*~ who was smiling too much (women always smile the wrong amount).

But I doubt Trump is impressed.

"Senator, let me finish," Kavanaugh said while refusing to answer a yes or no question.
Kavanaugh appears to be trying to impugn Mark Judge's truthfulness or grip on reality while suggesting that Leahy is assassinating Judge's character.
"My friend Mark Judge is a drunken drug-addled addict who can't be trusted and how dare you attack him, sir."
"Let him answer!" Grassley demands in order to let Kavanaugh continue to refuse to answer Leahy.
When Durbin dares Kavanaugh to ask the White House through counsel Don McGahn to suspend the process and complete an investigation, Grassley stops the clock and declares himself in charge no matter what anyone says and says the hearing won't be suspended.
Kavanaugh can't say anything except "I wanted a hearing last week." when asked if he would support an immediate FBI investigation. He's trying to equate wanting his nomination rushed through with being willing to be investigated.
Graham is taking the floor.
Graham asked if he knew what Schumer said on July 9th, then before he answered on mic, said, "Well, you know now."
Graham and Grassley have both said that Dr. Blasey is "as much a victim" as Graham.
....Kavanaugh is claiming "Beach Week Ralph Club" is a reference to his weak stomach. Senator Whitehouse tried to pin him down if it's about alcohol and he's now filibustering again about how he busted his butt.
Kavanaugh is claiming "boofed" (a drug reference) is about flatulence, as in, as seniors in high school asked each other if they had ever farted.

This is incredible, in the sense of not credible.
Cornyn is trying to get it on record that a no vote means that the Senators have found Kavanaugh to be guilty of a crime. He is trying to change the stakes and thus the burden of evidence to match a criminal trial.
Republicans are trying very hard to pretend like no one has ever missed a promotion or political appointment because of a cloud of doubt around them.
It's really hard to guess how this is going to go from here. There's a very real chance that Kavanaugh's performance here will play well enough with the base and give the waverers on the R side enough cover to say they listened to both sides. Please keep after your senators.

Klobuchar: "Did you ever drink so much that you can't remember what happened or part of what happened?"

Kavanaugh: "...I don't know, have you?"

Oh my goodness.
They keep pointing out that any senator can ask for an FBI investigation, but a big part is, the nomination process has to *stop* while it happens and the Democrats can't do that.
Dr. Blasey spent her time trying to answer questions, to the point of seeking clarity on what was being asked. Kavanaugh is constantly trying to avoid being pinned down, refusing to give a yes or no answer, defensively turning questions back around on the asker, repeating lines.
Kavanaugh is not giving a credible performance. The dislike of yes or no questions and the angry filibustering of obviously rehearsed speeches that he rehashes as needed are the hallmarks of a liar who knows he's under oath.
So, a short digression during the break about this "devil's triangle" thing. It's a way of contextualizing a m/f/m threesome as both being "no homo" but also making it clear it's about male agency, power, and pleasure and not the woman's.
Given the men involved we shouldn't assume it refers to a consensual act but even if it does they still need to feel like it's them "scoring", not her. So they contextualize it as a sort of daring achievement, an ultimate taboo they broke.
Obviously f/m/f is a stereotypical heterosexual male fantasy. But two guys with a girl is *also* seen as a male fantasy: "double-teaming" or "Devil's triangle". The only constant here is that it's never about what the woman wants.
Just had to point that out because it gives you a sense of where guys like this are, in terms of female agency.
Caller on C-SPAN lamenting the idea that one day his son will be held responsible for the things he's saying on social media today.

Do you know how you stop people's adult careers being derailed by suddenly holding them responsible for things they did when they were younger?

Someone bring up Merrick Garland.

Someone bring up Merrick Garland.
Grassley is bringing up the letter from 65 women... many of whom later recanted. He is representing them as having said the allegations are incompatible with his character. They didn't know the allegations. Grassley is lying on national TV.
Blumenthal bringing up credibility to a jury and the doctrine of "falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" is turning the attempt of the GOP to cast this as a trial around on them.
Blumenthal is trying to establish that Kavanaugh lied about having sexually conquered Renate and Kavanaugh's response is like his response on Judge: "How dare you slander her like that!"
This is going to be a line that gets echoed in Trumplandia. "They did the investigation!"

Bless Senator Hirono.
"I got into Yale" is not an answer about your drinking.
I've seen more than one person, many of them claiming to be independent, repeating the assertion that both sides are credible but Kavanaugh has evidence and Ford does not.
It reminds me of the studies about people's willingness to excuse actions so long as you have a reason, even if the reason makes no sense. Like "I just need to get a coffee." said as you cut line in Starbucks.
I suspect there are a lot of privilege dynamics at play in this; I don't think everyone could get away with the "Hey, buddy, I just need..." maneuver to get to the front of the line.
"I know you have a political animus," Cory Booker is turning around the political agenda line. Kavanaugh let it pass unchallenged. He's off balance.
"All the witnesses who were there said it didn't happen."

Heck of a slip of a tongue. I don't count it as revelatory because this isn't Encyclopedia Brown but heck of a slip of the tongue.
He just repeated "The witnesses who were there said it didn't happen."
Oh, good. Ted Cruz is talking.
Cruz is suggesting that it's revelatory that the Democrats didn't question him about the other allegations. Grassley was pretty clear at the beginning he wouldn't tolerate that.
Feinstein raised them in the opening moments of the hearing and was told they would be dealt with later.
Sidenote: I just messaged a friend in alarm because my vision was getting blurry and I didn't know why and then realized I had started holding my breath when Ted Cruz started talking.
It's okay to laugh at this because it's funny but if you're curious it's absolutely not a joke.

He just brought up the 65 women to Senator Harris. Please don't let me down, Senator. Bring up the coda to that.
I didn't expect to be tweeting so much from the hearing. I wanted to bear witness because I want to have the full context for what happens next, whatever happens next, and I suppose because I felt the need to bear witness.
It's a toss-up where this goes from here. Trump (who has the most power to end this farce) reportedly didn't like the morning's events. But I think he'd find a lot to be happy with in Kavanaugh's performance, especially as it went on.
The goal for Grassley, as I said, is to give his wavering members cover to say "We listened and we gave the little lady's views a hearing but there was just no proof." He didn't need to disprove anything.
If I had to set odds I'd put them slightly against Kavanaugh's confirmation. But it comes down to what specific Republicans decide. Among the reasons they're rushing is they don't want their members to have a chance to take the pulse of their constituents. So keep calling.
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