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‘This was what terrified me the most’: Key moments from the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. Her attorney’s Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich watch. | Win McNamee/Pool Image via AP

Kavanaugh Confirmation

The accounts before the Senate Judiciary Committee could determine whether Brett Kavanaugh will get a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.

Updated

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is trying to end what he calls a “smear” campaign, while Christine Blasey Ford says it’s her civic duty to share her account of the decades-old sexual assault that she says has “haunted” her as an adult.

Their accounts at Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee could determine whether the conservative jurist will get a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.

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Ford came forward nearly two weeks ago to accuse Kavanaugh of drunkenly groping her and pinning her to a bed in an attempt to pull off her clothes at a house party in the early 1980s. She also claims he covered her mouth to stop her from screaming, making it hard for her to breathe.

Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have publicly made sexual misconduct claims against the Supreme Court nominee.

Kavanaugh, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has denied all allegations.

Here are key moments from the hearing:

‘I believed he was going to rape me’

“I am here today not because I want to be,” Ford started her testimony, her voice breaking. “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.”

She said she attended a small gathering in Maryland in the summer of 1982, and people were drinking beer on the first floor of the home. She had one beer, she said, and later went upstairs to use the bathroom but was pushed into a bedroom from behind.

“I yelled … and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” she said. “I believed he was going to rape me.”

When she tried to yell for help, she told the committee, Kavanaugh’s hand covered her mouth to stop her from screaming. “This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life,” she said.

‘Uproarious laughter’

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Ford to share her strongest memory of the incident. “Something you cannot forget,” he said.

It didn’t take her long. She paused for roughly five seconds. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense,” she said, referring to Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, whom she alleges was in the room during the assault.

“They were laughing with each other,” she continued. “I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another.”

Ford addresses her fear of flying

Some conservatives viewed it as a hit to Ford’s credibility that she was reported to be afraid of flying, yet had traveled far from California for vacations and to Maryland and Washington this week. “Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr, the president’s oldest son.

Ford said she hoped the committee would interview her in California but opted to fly when she felt that wasn’t likely.

“That was certainly what I was hoping was to avoid having to get on an airplane, but I eventually was able to get up the gumption with the help of some friends and get on the plane,” Ford said.

Ford acknowledged flying for vacations to locations such as Hawaii, but asked about a company she worked for in Australia — about a 15-hour flight from California — Ford said she never went to the country.

“They have an office in San Francisco, California,” she said of the company. “I don’t think I’ll make it to Australia.”

Ford says she ‘absolutely’ did not mistake Kavanaugh’s identity

Ford said she is sure that she is not mistaken about Kavanaugh’s identity or role in the alleged assault. Last week, a Republican close to Kavanaugh claimed Ford might have mistaken the judge for a classmate who looked similar at the time.

“So what you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, asked.

“Absolutely not,” Ford said.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) later asked “with what degree of certainty do you believe” Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Ford replied: “100 percent.”

‘I was going to introduce her’

The committee’s top senators didn’t wait to start bickering over Ford’s testimony. Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made digs at Feinstein for withholding Ford’s initial letter about the allegations and because Ford’s name was later made public. The two even had a heated exchange about who was to introduce Ford.

“Before you get to your testimony — and the chairman chose not to do this — I think it’s important to make sure you’re properly introduced,” Feinstein said during her opening remarks.

Grassley cut Feinstein off, saying he was going to introduce Ford.

“If you want to introduce her, I’ll be glad to have you do that,” Grassley said. “But I want you to know that I didn’t forget to do it because I would do that just as she was about to speak.”

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