The Latest: Ford finishes her testimony, Kavanaugh goes next

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

2:15 p.m.

The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers has finished her testimony before a Senate panel.

California psychology professor Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford finished her testimony Thursday afternoon, about four hours after the hearing began. Ford alleges that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. She said she was ultimately able to escape.

Ford showed no hesitancy in affirming the crucial question about the alleged attack, telling senators her certainty that Kavanaugh was responsible was “100 percent.”

Lawmakers are expected to next hear from Kavanaugh, who has denied the allegations.


2 p.m.

Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford says she doesn’t have any political motivation for coming forward with accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

Ford is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the accusations.

When Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii asked Ford about her motive for appearing, Ford said she’d been trying to get the information on the alleged assault to the committee while there was still a list of potential high court nominees.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, and he’s set to address the committee later Thursday.


1:55 p.m.

Two Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee say allegations made by Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh haven’t been substantiated.

For South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, “It’s not about, ‘Do I believe her?'” but whether the sexual assault allegation from when Ford and Kavanaugh were teenagers is corroborated.

He says, “Is his denial any less believable than her allegation?”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn says “you need more than an accusation for evidence. You need corroboration. That’s what’s missing here.”

Cornyn said Ford is repeating accusations already made in a sworn statement.

Graham says Democrats are trying to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the midterm elections.


1:50 p.m.

Some of the more talkative members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are suddenly quiet after hearing Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford testify.

She’s answering questions about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. He denies the allegation.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tells reporters he’s “just listening” to the testimont. Another typically talkative Republican, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, says he has not comment.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is shrugging off Ford’s testimony as “nothing new.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who’s not on the committee — is ignoring reporters’ questions about how the hearing has been going.

And South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said he hasn’t been watching the proceedings.


1:30 p.m.

A long-serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault when they were teenagers is “attractive” and “pleasing.”

Utah’s Orrin Hatch made the comments as the committee broke for lunch after hearing several hours of testimony from Christine Blasey Ford.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, and when Hatch was asked whether he found Ford to be believable, he said: “It’s too early to say. I don’t think she’s uncredible. But it’s way early.”

And when a reporter asked the 84-year-old Hatch what he meant by saying the 51-year-old was “attractive,” he said: “In other words, she’s pleasing.”

He said: “I’ll say this. She’s attractive, and she’s a nice person and I wish her well.”

Hatch is a senior member of the committee who was also at the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings.


1:15 p.m.

Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace says Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is “a disaster” for Republicans.

Wallace and some others on Fox have used breaks in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to say Ford has performed strongly her early testimony. And they’re expressing frustration about the line of questioning by the prosecutor hired by Republicans to question Ford about her sexual assault accusation against Kavanaugh.

The commentators’ assessment is important because the White House says President Donald Trump, who was flying from New York to Washington as the hearing started, was watching Fox’s coverage.

Fox’s Brit Hume put it this way about Ford: “The more hesitant, the more fragile she has seemed, the more credible and powerful she seems to the audience.”


1:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s eldest son is taking issue with Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as she shares her recollections of an alleged sexual assault years ago by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Donald Trump Jr. is a fierce defender of his father and he frequently sounds off on Twitter. He’s citing Ford’s description of her fear of flying and her saying that she finds it easier when she’s going on vacation.

Trump Jr. tweets that he’s “no psychology professor,” but he says it seems “weird” him “that someone could have a selective fear of flying.”


12:51 p.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says no one helped write the letter she sent privately to Sen. Dianne Feinstein outlining her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Asked Thursday by attorney Rachel Mitchell at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing if Ford had any help, Ford answered flatly, “No.”

Ford explained how she was weighing whether to come forward about the incident from 35 years ago. Kavanaugh denies assaulting her when they were teens.

Ford first brought her concerns privately in July to her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo. The California Democrat suggested she write the letter to Feinstein.

Ford described a “fairly brief” phone call with Feinstein once the senator had received the letter.

For says she started interviewing lawyers because the few other people she had told said she would need one.


12:23 p.m.

The prosecutor at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing questioning Christine Blasey Ford about her allegation of sexual assault has asked about her fear of flying.

Attorney Rachel Mitchell asked Ford about her anxieties. Ford acknowledged Thursday a discomfort with airplanes but said she was “able to get up the gumption” and fly from California to Washington for the hearing. She said she’s also taken planes for vacations.

Asked if other factors in her life could be causing anxiety, Ford said there was “nothing as striking” as the event with Kavanaugh.

Ford alleges Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teens. He denies the allegation.

Mitchell is a Phoenix prosecutor hired by Republicans to handle questioning for the all-male GOP side of the dais.


12:01 p.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is “100 percent” certain that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high-school teenagers.

Ford answered in response to Sen. Dick Durbin’s question asking what degree of certainty Ford had that it was Kavanaugh.

It was the second time in the televised hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that Ford asserted that her claim against Kavanaugh was not a case of mistaken identity.

Both instances were in response to questions from Democratic senators who were trying to reinforce Ford’s credibility as Kavanaugh’s accuser.


11:58 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has left his suburban Maryland home ahead of his expected testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on allegations he sexually assaulted a teen at a party.

Kavanaugh left through the side door of his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home where an American flag was hung outside the front door and a basketball hoop stood out front.

Kavanaugh stepped into a waiting black SUV as a reporter shouted questions. He did not comment.

While he got into his car, his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford was being questioned by senators. She told the panel that she was barricaded in a bedroom by Kavanaugh and a friend, and Kavanaugh held her down, covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her. He denies the allegations.


11:52 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford has testified that she saw Brett Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge a few weeks after she says Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Ford says Judge was in the room when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering when they were teens. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, denies assaulting Ford. Judge in a statement said he has “no memory” of the alleged incident.

Ford told the senators she ran into Judge at a Safeway store roughly “six to eight weeks” after the assault. She recalled that after she said hello, “his face was white.” She said Judge was “nervous,” didn’t want to speak with her and “looked a little bit ill.”

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to subpoena Judge for his testimony. Republicans have rejected that request. Judge, through his lawyer, has said he does not wish to speak publicly.


11:38 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says her strongest memory of the time she alleges Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens is the laughter.

Ford, a research psychologist and professor, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter.”

She was describing Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, the other teen she says was present as they locked her in a room at a party.

The 51-year-old mom from Palo Alto, California, was asked by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont of her strongest memory of the incident.

Ford testified that Kavanaugh and Judge “were laughing with each other.”

Asked if she has ever forgotten that laughter, she shook her head no.

She described being “underneath one of them” as the two laughed.


11:33 a.m.

President Donald Trump is watching the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One on a slight delay.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump is watching it a bit “delayed” because he was in transit when the proceedings started.

Sanders had no additional reaction to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school students in the 1980s.

Trump did not speak to Kavanaugh on Thursday.


11:27 a.m.

Miranda Greear of Roanoke, Virginia, is among the hundreds of people who have gathered on Capitol Hill to make their voices heard during Thursday’s historic Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Greear says she wants to show support for survivors of sexual assault.

She says that for years, women have been told they shouldn’t share their stories and that what happened was their fault. She says, “I’m done living in a world where women are not believed.”

Supporters of Brett Kavanaugh are also in the crowd. A Maryland woman, Karen, is wearing a shirt that says “Women for Kavanaugh.” She declined to give her last name because “anybody who gives their last name in this environment is risking harm to themselves.”

Karen says “I think if these allegations were true, it would not have taken 35 years for them to be known.”


11:17 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is certain she did not mistakenly identify Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as her attacker at a party when they were both in high school more than 30 years ago.

Ford was responding to questions from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about how she could be sure it was Kavanaugh and not someone else who assaulted her in the bedroom of a home in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C.

Ford said, “The same way I am sure I am talking to you right now.”

Feinstein said: “So what you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity.”

Ford’s response: “Absolutely not.”


11:10 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says the alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “drastically altered her life for a very long time.”

Ford is testifying Thursday at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations. He is expected to testify later.

She says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh during a small gathering in high school.

Ford says she suffered anxiety, phobia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms.

She says the primary impact on her life was the four years after it happened. She struggled in college both academically and socially, and had an especially difficult time forming friendships with boys.

She says it also manifested more recently. She asked her husband to make two front doors in their California home as a result of the attack, so she could have a way out if necessary.


11:08 a.m.

The Phoenix prosecutor Republicans have hired to handle much of their questioning at a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has begun her questioning of Kavanaugh’s accuser.

Rachel Mitchell began her questioning of Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday. The California psychology professor accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

Mitchell told Ford that the first thing that struck her about Ford’s opening statement is “that you’re terrified.”

Mitchell said: “I just wanted to let you know I’m very sorry. That’s not right.”

Republicans’ hiring of Mitchell will avoid having their all-male contingent interrogating Ford about the details of what she describes as a harrowing assault.


11:05 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she wanted just one thing as she began testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee: some caffeine.

Ford, the 51-year-old mom of two from California, offered a light moment Thursday after being sworn in for testimony. She is alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies assaulting her.

Told by GOP Chairman Chuck Grassley that he intended to provide a respectful and comfortable setting, she informed him she anticipated “needing some caffeine.”

Ford provided her opening statement in a soft-spoken voice that was cracking at times.

When she finished, Grassley asked if she needed a short break.

Ford told the chairman she was “ok.” She held up a cup and said she “got the coffee.”


10:55 a.m.

Senators sat riveted on the dais as Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who she says sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s.

Most of the 21 senators on the panel leaned forward. None appeared to take notes. Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota appeared to wipe away a tear.

The room was totally quiet as Ford described the night she said she was assaulted. People stayed in their seats in the small Judiciary committee room where Ford had asked to testify.

It was a far cry from Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month, in which screaming protesters were hauled away at regular intervals. Most attending Thursday’s hearing appear to be ticketed guests of senators, with few if any members of the general public let in.


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.


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