The Latest: Ford ‘agonized daily’ over coming forward

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

10:53 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she “agonized daily” over the decision on whether to come forward to speak about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford is testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is telling the committee that Kavanaugh barricaded her in a bedroom at a house party during high school and got on top of her and assaulted her.

She says that over the years, she convinced herself that because she was not raped, she should just pretend that it didn’t happen. But when it became clear Kavanaugh would likely be named to the court, she said she faced a difficult choice.

She says that she sent a letter detailing the allegations to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California but had planned not to come forward. But the letter was leaked to the press. She then decided that she should speak out to tell her story in her own words.

She says her goal is to be helpful.


10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump was traveling from New York City back to Washington as a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault began her testimony.

Trump flew aboard a helicopter from New York City to John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday morning, before boarding Air Force One. He spent several days in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The president boarded Air Force One in the late morning. Trump and staff planned to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One as they traveled back to Washington.

The hearing began with testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the charges.


10:42 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she came before the Senate Judiciary Committee not because she wanted to, but because she believed it’s her civic duty.

Ford spoke Thursday at a hearing on her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her voice cracked as she spoke to the committee, calling Kavanaugh: “the boy who sexually assaulted me.”

She says that the assault has been seared into her memory and has haunted her.

She says Kavanaugh held her down on a bed during a party with a few other high school kids and assaulted her, and put his hand over her mouth so she could not scream. She says she thought he would try to rape her.

Kavanaugh has denied any allegations. He will speak to the committee later Thursday.


10:41 a.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the committee’s Democratic leader got into a terse exchange over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

As the hearing began Thursday morning, chairman Chuck Grassley accused Sen. Dianne Feinstein of keeping allegations against Kavanaugh secret and releasing them at the last minute.

Feinstein said she initially kept the allegations confidential at the request of Kavanaugh’s accuser — Christine Blasey Ford until Ford was willing to come forward. The California psychology professor accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

Grassley and Feinstein also got into an exchange over introducing Ford. Feinstein suggested Grassley hadn’t done a proper job introducing her. Grassley said he hadn’t gotten to it yet.


10:37 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh raise “real questions of character.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says three women have made allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate actions against Kavanaugh that are at odds with Kavanaugh’s recollections of his youth.

Feinstein was speaking at the start of a hearing to explore Christine Blasey Ford’s claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Feinstein says the FBI should have investigated allegations made by Ford and two other women, just as it did in 1991 when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her.

The California Democrat says Republicans already have indicated they intend to proceed with a vote on Kavanaugh.


10:25 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says the committee has tried to investigate two other allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but it has not received cooperation from the accusers.

Grassley made the comments Thursday at a hearing where the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is going to testify on her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teens.

Since Ford’s allegations, two other women have said they were assaulted by Kavanaugh. Grassley says the committee made several requests for evidence. He says neither attorney has made their clients available.

Both attorneys have said they have tried to get their clients heard, but the committee won’t listen.

Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.


10:20 a.m.

A woman who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he doesn’t belong on the nation’s highest court.

Julie Swetnick said in an interview with Showtime’s “The Circus” that she didn’t want to come forward a day before Kavanaugh was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that “circumstances brought it out that way.” An excerpt of her interview was released Thursday.

In a sworn statement, Swetnick accused Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women, among other accusations.

The Associated Press hasn’t been able to corroborate the claims, and continues to investigate. Both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied misconduct.

Swetnick says she wants the American public to have the facts and “judge for themselves.”


10:15 a.m.

The attorney for a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault tweeted a note of support from the woman to Christine Blasey Ford ahead of Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Deborah Ramirez says she is thinking of Ford. She says: “They want us to feel alone and isolated but I’m there wrapping my arms around you.” That’s according to a tweet sent by Ramirez’ lawyer John Clune.

Ramirez says she is holding Ford up in spirit. Ford is testifying Thursday before the committee on her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.


10:13 a.m.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is opening a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with an apology to both Kavanaugh and his accuser for the way they’ve been treated, saying they and their families have received “vile threats.”

The Iowa Republican promised a “safe, comfortable and dignified” atmosphere Thursday as his committee hears from both.

Grassley also said it had been a “terrible couple of weeks” for both Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

The committee is expected to hear hours of testimony Thursday. Ford will testify first. Kavanaugh is scheduled to testify later in the day.


10:12 a.m.

The atrium of the Hart Senate Office building is full of demonstrators protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

At least 200 men and women are standing silently with their fists raised on the ground floor and lining the first floor balconies.

Many of the protesters are wearing black tape over their mouths with the message “believe survivors” or have similar messages written on their upraised palms.

All protests on Capitol grounds are prohibited, but Capitol Police appear to be giving the protesters some leeway.

An officer with the Capitol Police told The Associated Press that the protests would be allowed as long as nobody chanted, marched or held a sign up at head level.


10:10 a.m.

With the high-stakes hearing for his Supreme Court nominee underway, President Donald Trump is meeting with diplomats at the United Nations.

Trump was scheduled to meet with staff as he concludes his trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

Trump plans to return to Washington later Thursday morning. He has said he will be watching the hearing and has said he could be convinced to change his mind on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though he has continued to strongly defend him.

Kavanaugh faces accusations of sexual misconduct, which he has strongly denied. He and his chief accuser will both appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.


10:05 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has gaveled into session Thursday’s dramatic hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford, in prepared remarks submitted to the committee, alleges that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes when they were teens. Kavanaugh, in his prepared testimony, says he’s never done anything “remotely resembling” what Ford describes.

Grassley and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will deliver opening statements at the start of the hearing. Then Ford will be sworn in as a witness and deliver her opening statement. Kavanaugh will testify later, after her session is over.

The 11 Republican and 10 Democratic members of the panel will have five minutes each to question Ford and Kavanaugh in alternating turns.

Republicans have hired an outside attorney, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to handle much of their questioning.


9:25 a.m.

With a dramatic day of testimony looming, protesters are gathering around the U.S. Capitol building.

Organizers behind the Women’s March plan a “direct action” Thursday morning in the Hart Senate Office Building in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who will testify that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her during a drunken high school party.

Elsewhere, a coalition of conservative women’s groups is planning an “I stand with Brett” rally near the Russell Senate Office Building.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month was marred by dozens of protesters interrupting the hearing even before Ford’s allegation became public.


12:35 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is raising the curtain on what promises to be high drama – a hearing in which senators will listen to a woman accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, then weigh his denial.

At stake is President Donald Trump’s second nomination to the high court.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation seemed assured until a California college professor, Christine Blasey Ford, accused the appeals court judge of attempting to rape her when they were high school teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied any sexual misconduct then or in college at Yale, though more women alleging sexual misconduct have come forward.

Kavanaugh defended himself this week in a TV interview. The hearing set to begin Thursday morning will be the first time the country sees and hears from Ford.


For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, visit

Categories: National & International News