Key developments on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.
Christine Blasey Ford has accused US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
According to Ford, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothing at a party in 1982.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in July, denies the allegations, calling them “a smear campaign”.
Testimonies in front of the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday began at 10am (14:00 GMT) and ended around 7pm (23:00 GMT).
Ford welcomes probe, says no limits should be imposed
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer says her client welcomes the announcement of a new FBI investigation into the allegations she has made against Brett Kavanaugh, but said limits should not be imposed.
“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts,” Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz said in a statement. “Dr Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins – and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation – to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” she added.
“No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”
Kavanaugh: I will continue to cooperate
Brett Kavanaugh says he will continue to cooperate with officials during his confimation process.
“Throughout this process, I’ve been interviewed by the FBI, I’ve done a number of ‘background’ calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me,” he said in a statement. “I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate.”
Trump orders FBI probe into Kavanaugh
In a reversal of his previous statements, Trump has ordered the FBI to conduct a new investigation into Kavanaugh. Trump said the probe must be “limited in scope” and last no longer than a week.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement. “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
Senate panel to ask Trump to open new FBI probe
The Senate Judiciary Committee says it will ask Trump to instruct the FBI to open a new investigation into Kavanaugh, potentially delaying a full Senate vote on his nomination.
Republicans huddle to discuss next steps
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting with Republicans senators in his office to discuss the next steps on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
GOP senators from the panel dashed to McConnell’s office immediately after the Judiciary committee vote.
Entering McConnell’s office, Senator John Kennedy called the developments a “grotesque carnival”.
Flake calls for one-week delay of full vote
Republican Senator Jeff Flake called for an FBI probe into sexual assault allegations against the nominee before a final vote is held.
The concerns expressed by Republican Senator Jeff Flake could imperil the nomination if an FBI investigation is not launched.
Senate panel votes 11-10 to recommend confirmation of Kavanaugh’s nomination to full US Senate.
Vote was set to begin at 17:30 GMT
The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to begin voting on Kavanaugh at 1:30pm local time, but a number of Senators are still outside the chambers.
Feinstein says Kavanaugh bid ‘test’ for nation
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is “a real test” for the Senate and the nation “to see how we treat women, especially women who are survivors of sexual assault.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that 27 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings, Republicans appear to have a new strategy for handling sexual assault allegations.
She says: “The Republican strategy is no longer ‘attack the victim.’ It is to ignore the victim.”
Feinstein says she’s disappointed the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination less than a day after emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and Ford.
Some Democrats walk out of committee meeting in protest
Some Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee walked out of the panel’s meeting in protest to its decision to hold a vote on whether to recommend Brett Kavanaugh for a full Senate vote.
Judiciary Committee to vote on Kavanaugh at 17:30GMT
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh at 1:30pm local time (17:30GMT).
Key Republican Senator Flake says he will vote ‘yes’
Republican US Senator Jeff Flake on Friday said he would vote to support Kavanaugh.
“I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake, who has been critical of Trump and is set to retire after his current term, said in a statement.
Senate Judiciary Committee meets ahead of vote
Senators are now meeting ahead of a vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh.
Thursday, September 27
Republicans: ‘There will be a vote’ Friday
Republican senators say the Judiciary Committee plans to vote Friday morning on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican, had said Thursday that the GOP conference would meet and “see where we are”. After meeting, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “There will be a vote tomorrow morning.”
Senate Republicans discussing next steps
Senate Republicans are huddling to discuss the next steps on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh’s nomination unless Republicans decide to postpone it.
Trump calls Kavanaugh’s testimony ‘powerful’
As Thursday’s hearing was wrapping up, President Trump called Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful”.
“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” Trump tweeted. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting,” he wrote. “Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”
Thursday’s hearing has adjourned. Earlier in the week, the Republican-led committee scheduled a vote for Friday. The panel’s chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, said on Twitter the vote was scheduled in line with committee rules, which require a three-day notice. He indicated however, they could still delay the vote if the panel felt it needed more time.
“Still taking this 1 step at a time. After [hearing] Dr Ford & Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony – if we‘re ready to vote, we will vote. If we aren’t ready, we won’t,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Kavanaugh did not listen to Ford’s testimony
Kavanaugh said he didn’t watch Ford testify about her accusation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teens.
Kavanaugh was asked by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California near the end of the hearing whether he had watched Ford’s testimony.
Kavanaugh responded: “I plan to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”
Kavanaugh: ‘Listen to both sides’
When being questioned by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kavanaugh said that senators should “listen to both sides” before making a “bottom-line” judgement.
Booker asked if Kavanaugh wished Ford would have never come forward. He also asked, referring to Kavanaugh’s earlier statements, whether he was saying Ford’s “efforts to come forward .. have all been part of an orchestrated political hit”.
Kavanaugh reiterated that he and his family have “no ill will towards Dr Ford”.
He also said that “all allegations should be taken seriously”.
Kavanaugh apologises for response to Senator Amy Klobuchar
Kavanaugh apologised after tangling with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar over his drinking in high school.
Klobuchar said Kavanaugh wrote in testimony that he sometimes had too many drinks. Klobuchar asked whether he ever drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before. Kavanaugh answered “no.”
In a back-and-forth, he added, “Have you?” and followed up a second time.
Klobuchar said: “I have no drinking problem, Judge.” Kavanaugh responded: “Nor do I.”
After returning from a break, he apologized for asking her that question.
Questioning of Brett Kavanaugh resumes.
During questions, a break of 15 minutes was called. Kavanaugh, who was visibly emotional, called for the break, according to a senator.
Democrats: Why no FBI investigation?
Senator Feinstein noted Kavanaugh’s concern regarding the allegations but asked why he did not support calls for an FBI investigation.
Kavanaugh called back to comments from his opening statement, saying he wanted to be in front of the Judicial committee the day after they were made. He said he would do what the committee wants.
Kavanaugh claims innocence, cites friendships with women
“I am innocent,” Kavanaugh told the Judiciary committee. The SCOTUS nominee said that he did not drink to the point of “blacking out”.
Several letters signed by women whom Kavanaugh called “friends, not girlfriends” extolled Kavanaugh’s character.
Kavanaugh said he has always supported women. If confirmed to the Supreme Court he would be first to have an all-female staff of law clerks, he said.
Kavanaugh says calendar shows he wasn’t there
Kavanaugh entered a personal calendar from 1982, the year in which the alleged assault occurred, into the record. He claimed that the gathering where the assault allegedly happened would have taken place on the weekend.
The calendar, Kavanaugh said, shows he was only in DC for one weekend night: Friday, June 4. He said on that day he was with his father at a professional golf tournament.
The calendars. which Kavanaugh said served as a sort of diary, “listed the precise people” who attended events with him.
Kavanaugh: ‘I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone’
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school. Not in college. Not ever,” Kavanaugh said.
The SCOTUS nominee said he didn’t question that Ford had been sexually assaulted, but he was not the person responsible for her alleged assault.
Kavanaugh blames Democrats for allegations
Kavanaugh said the allegations arose only after Democrats, who he claimed have been against him since he was nominated, were unable to disqualify him based on merits.
The allegations against him are a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled by anger against Trump.
“You’ve tried hard, you’ve given it your all,” Kavanaugh said to Democrats on the Judiciary committee, but these efforts “will not drive me out.”
Kavanaugh begins testimony
Kavanaugh began by stressing he prepared his opening remarks himself: “This is my statement.”
The SCOTUS nominee said that people who Ford said attended the party where she was allegedly assaulted claimed they did not know him.
He decried the ten-day delay between the publication of the allegations and the hearing.
In that time, his “family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations.”
Kavanaugh said the ten-day delay for a hearing was also harmful to the nation and the Supreme Court.
No more questions, 45-minute recess
Mitchell, the prosecutor to whom Republican senators ceded their time, finished her questioning of Ford. The majority of the last questions concerned Ford’s lawyers, including who was paying for their services and how she came to acquire their services.
Ford’s legal counsel explained they were providing pro bono services and did not expect to be paid.
Mitchell told Ford she was finished with questioning.
Minutes later, one of Ford’s attorneys asked to be excused. Grassley thanked Ford for her testimony and the hearing went to a 45-minute recess.
Ford: No political motivation
As the hearing resumed, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii asked Republicans on the Judiciary panel if they planned to cede all their time for questioning to Mitchell, the prosecutor questioning Ford. Grassley confirmed they did.
Ford then asked Ford if there was a political motivation behind going public with her allegations against Kavanaugh.
Ford said there was not, stressing that she attempted to make her allegations known when Kavanaugh was still one name a list of possible nominees.
Mitchell then continued questioning Ford.
Hearing breaks for lunch
The Judiciary committee will reconvene after 30 minutes.
Questions resume after break
Ford has returned to clarify her account of the alleged assault after the hearing paused for 15 minutes.
Professional prosecutor Rachel Mitchell asked Ford about the content of her therapy records concerning her memory of the assault.
Mitchell, who is questioning Ford for the Judiciary committee, asked Ford when she underwent a polygraph test concerning her allegations against Kavanaugh. Ford explained that it happened shortly after her grandmother’s funeral.
Democrats continued to call for a full FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Senator Grassley, the ranking Republican, said the hearing was so Ford could give testimony.
Ford’s questioning started shortly after her testimony. Ford corrected and amended portions of her statement, including the number of boys present at the house party where the alleged assault took place.
Then, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Ford about the most memorable part of the attack.
Ford replied: “The laughter between the two … and their having fun at my expense”.
Democratic senators continued to call for a full FBI investigation into allegations made against Kavanaugh while commending Ford for her bravery.
‘Hardest weeks of my life’
“Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves when and whether” their assault is made public, Ford said.
“I agonised daily about this decision throughout August and September” Ford continued, saying that her sense of duty “was always there”, even as her fears of exposure increased.
But reporters made it “clear” that her name would eventually be made public, so Ford decided to speak to a reporter with the Washington Post.
Since her story became public, Ford has experienced an outpouring of support, she said.
At the same time, her “greatest fears have been realised,” Ford continued, detailing death threats and vile comments. “My family and I have been [living] in various secure locales, at times separated and at times together”.
“Apart from the assault itself, the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life”, Ford said.
Ford: I was afraid of dying
“I was pushed from behind into a bedroom … Brett and Mark came into the bedroom … I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me,” Ford continued, using Kavanaugh’s first name, Brett.
Ford detailed the alleged sexual assault in graphic detail. “I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling … I couldn’t breathe,” she claimed.
Ford said she was afraid that Kavanaugh would accidentally kill her by suffocation. She said she could hear the two boys she alleged assaulted her laughing as they left the bedroom.
Ford begins her testimony
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty”, Ford began.
Ford informed the Judiciary panel how she came to know Kavanaugh.
“When I was 14 or 15 years old … I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time”, which was how they met, she said.
In the summer of 1982, Ford attended a gathering in a home that Kavanaugh also attended, she said. “I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together … I don’t remember as much as I would like to, but the details that have brought me here today, I will never forget.”
‘Where we are as a country’
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, described sexual assault as a ‘serious’ problem in the US that largely “goes unseen”, during her opening address.
The problem of sexual assault reflects “where we are as a country,” she said.
“Institutions have not progressed in how they treat women”, Feinstein said. Women are often “forced to defend themselves … re-victimized in the process”, she continued.
Feinstein recalled watching the testimony of Anita Hill, a woman who accused then SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault.
Thomas was confirmed in 1991.
Still, “Anita Hill’s allegations were reviewed by the FBI … However, despite repeated requests, President Trump and the Republicans” have not followed this step regarding the allegations made against Kavanaugh, Feinstein said.
The hearing begins
Ford is seated in front of the Senate panel, chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley who expressed the committee’s hope that the proceedings would be “safe, comfortable and dignified” for both Ford and Kavanaugh.
Grassley said that both Ford and Kavanaugh, as well as their families, had suffered “vile threats” due to the allegations against the SCOTUS nominee.
Protesters gather on Capitol Hill ahead of hearing
Protesters marched to Capitol Hill on Thursday in support of Ford. A small group of supporters were gathering in the Senate office building, while a larger protest is scheduled for 12:30pm (16:30 GMT).
Protesters from @NARAL @womensmarch @UltraViolet and more gathering in Hart Senate Office Bldg right now because GOP won’t even let the people in building whee Christine Blasey Ford testifying. pic.twitter.com/Ke8gbcM81I
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) September 27, 2018
A group of women who support Kavanaugh also held a small rally, calling for his confirmation.
— Taylor Dawson (@heyyyy_tay) September 27, 2018
Hearing set for 14:00 GMT
Christine Blasey Ford will give her account of an alleged incident, in which she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering when both of them were in high school.
Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations made by Ford as well as two other women who have come forward, will also testify, although he will not be in the room when Ford is speaking.
The all-male Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has hired lawyer Rachel Mitchell, who has experience prosecuting sex crimes, to question Ford.
Democratic senators will ask their own questions.
A line had begun to form outside Capitol Hill hours ahead of the hearing.
Wednesday, September 26:
Anita Hill says #MeToo movement can create lasting change
Anita Hill said Wednesday her pivotal 1991 Senate testimony about sexual harassment by a Supreme Court nominee sparked a wave of awareness but that lasting change failed because of a lack of clear leadership and a reluctance to confront harsh realities.
On the eve of another hearing where a US Supreme Court nominee is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, she told a packed University of Utah audience at a preplanned lecture that the #MeToo movement has the opportunity to create long-term solutions.
However, that is going to require facing questions the nation has been reluctant to address, including the prevalence of the problem and the fact that abusers don’t always look like stereotypical monsters, she said.
“We look for simple solutions because we don’t want to deal with the hard questions,” she said. “When those simple solutions fail, too often we retreat.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes nearly 30 years after her testimony against Clarence Thomas, who was later confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Hill said that when she came forward, she was thinking about the integrity of the court and the fact that justices have lifetime appointments.
“Access to equal justice for all is what was at stake in 1991, and it’s what’s at stake now,” said Hill, now 62 and a professor at Brandeis University.
Ford to testify: ‘Assault drastically altered my life’
In her prepared opening statement for the Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Christine Blasey Ford will tell the panel’s members how the assault “drastically altered” her life.
“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,” the statement, released on Wednesday, reads.
According to the remarks, Ford will describe the events in the summer of 1982 when she said Brett Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes.
“I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult,” Ford will say.
She will also describe the reaction she has received since coming forward.
“I have experienced an outpouring of support,” she will explain. “At the time, my greatest fears have been realized – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected,” Ford will say. “My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.”
Ford will conclude by saying the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of her life.
“I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me … It is not my responsibility to determine whether Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”
Kavanaugh to tell Senate panel: ‘Last minute smears, pure and simple’
In his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh will again deny the allegations levelled against him by Christine Blasey Ford and others.
“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired,” Kavanaugh will say, according to his statement, released on Wednesday. “There has been a frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last minute smears, pure and simple.”
Kavanaugh will tell the panel that he is there to “answer these allegations and to tell the truth”.
“Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith,” he will say. “Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject also deserves to be heard.”
According to the statement, Kavanaugh will tell the committee that he “never did anything remotely resembling with Dr Ford describes”. He will add that he is “innocent of this charge.”
Trump calls allegations ‘big fat con job’
In a rare solo press conference, US President Donald Trump called the allegations levelled against Kavanaugh as a “big fat con job” orchestrated by Democrats.
“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me,” he said. “When I see it, I view it differently than someone sitting at home watching television.”
Trump said, however, that he could “always be convinced”, adding that it will be “interesting to hear what she [Ford] has to say”.
Kavanaugh calls new allegations ‘ridiculous’
In a statement on Wednesday after allegations surfaced from Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh said: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Third woman accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct
Julie Swetnick became the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct after her lawyer tweeted a declaration of the allegations on Wednesday.
According to the declaration, shared by lawyer Michael Avenatti, Swetnick said she met Kavanaugh and his school friend, Mark Judge, in the 1980s and attended several parties in which the two were present.
“On numerous occasions at these parties, I witnessed Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer,” she said. “This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.”
Avenatti said that his client demands a “full and complete” FBI investigation into the allegations.
Swetnick’s declaration comes a day before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of groping her and attempting to remove her clothes when they were both teenagers, are set to give evidence in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kavanaugh staunchly denies ever sexually assaulting anyone, and his allies have questioned the credibility of Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, based in part on what they say is a lack of corroboration. Judge, who Ford said was present at the time of the assault, said in a letter sent to the Judiciary Committee by his lawyer that he had “no memory of this alleged incident”.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies