Day 616: "I am terrified."
1/ Christine Blasey Ford testified that she is “100%” certain that Brett Kavanaugh was her attacker, and that she believed he “was going to rape me” and “was going to accidentally kill me.” Ford began her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by telling senators: “I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified.” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
Ford’s testimony in one sentence: Ford broke her silence after 36 years; described how she was “100%” sure that it was Kavanaugh and Mark Judge who locked her in a bedroom before Kavanaugh “got on top” of her; called it her “civic duty” to come forward despite feeling “terrified”; and described the “uproarious laughter” that Kavanaugh and Judge had at her expense.
READ: Christine Blasey Ford’s opening statement (NPR)
🔥 LIVE BLOGS: Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News
2/ In a fiery 45-minute opening statement to the committee, Kavanaugh called the confirmation process “a national disgrace” and said that the sexual assault allegations against him are part of “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.” Kavanaugh claimed that his family and his “name have been totally and permanently destroyed” by this process, but he “will not be intimidated into withdrawing.” Kavanaugh said he prepared his remarks himself. (Politico / Washington Post)
Kavanaugh’s testimony in one sentence: Kavanaugh was combative with Democrats, refused to answer questions directly; claimed he’d “do whatever the committee wants” regarding an FBI investigation, but rolled his eyes and stayed quiet for a long time when asked if an investigation was a good idea; denied ever blacking out from drinking; denied every being alone in a room with Ford and his friend Mark Judge; and called Swetnick’s allegations “a joke” and “a farce.”
READ: Brett Kavanaugh’s prepared remarks (CNN)
3/ Trump called the accusations against Kavanaugh “all false,” but that he could “always be convinced” and “could be persuaded” otherwise” because “it’s possible [Ford’s testimony] will be convincing.” Some Republicans are hoping the White House pulls Kavanaugh’s nomination, calling today a “total disaster.” Trump, however, said he would only withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination “if I thought he was guilty of something” and that the “false” allegations of sexual misconduct against him “impact my opinion” of Kavanaugh. Trump was reportedly “riveted” watching Kavanaugh’s opening statement, telling people in his inner circle,“this is why I nominated him.” (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)
4/ Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed two men who claim they, not Brett Kavanaugh, were the ones who assaulted Ford. The two suggested that Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh may have been a case of mistaken identity – a conspiracy floated last week by conservative legal commentator Ed Whelan, a longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s. Neither man intends to come forward publicly. (Washington Post / The Hill / NY Post / BuzzFeed News)
5/ Sen. Susan Collins questioned why the Senate Judiciary Committee has not subpoenaed Mark Judge, a close friend of Kavanaugh’s and an alleged witness to the incidents described by Ford and Julie Swetnick. The Republican senator told colleagues in a private meeting that she was troubled by the latest accusations by Swetnick, who said that she witnessed Kavanaugh and Judge try to get teenage girls “inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped.’” Collins is a key swing vote and joins GOP Senators Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski, who have expressed reservations about Kavanaugh’s nomination. Kavanaugh can’t lose more than one GOP senator if all Democrats vote against his nomination. (CNN / New York Times)
- Mark Judge’s book validates Ford’s timeline of the alleged assault by Kavanaugh. “I did see Mark Judge once at the Potomac Village Safeway after the time of the attack,” Ford testified, adding that if she knew when Judge worked there she could provide more information about when the attack occurred. In Judge’s book, he described working at a grocery store the summer before senior year for a few weeks. He mentions someone named “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who vomited in a car after a party. Ford said she saw Judge at Safeway “six to eight weeks” after the alleged assault. (Washington Post)
6/ An anonymous fourth accuser alleged that Brett Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman in the D.C. area in 1998 while he was drunk. The sender of the anonymous letter described an incident between her daughter, Kavanaugh, and several friends in which “they were all shocked when Brett Kavanaugh, shoved her friend up against the wall very aggressively and sexually” as they were leaving a bar. The author of the letter said there were “at least four witnesses including my daughter.” (NBC News)
7/ Four Republican governors called for the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh vote and take its time to examine the sexual assault allegations against the nominee. The four are Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, John Kasich of Ohio, and Phil Scott of Vermont. (Politico)
The House Intelligence Committee will vote on Friday to release dozens of interview transcripts from its now-defunct Russia investigation. The transcripts are from interviews that were conducted between June 2017 and March 2018, and will include testimony from Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone, and other people who have been close to Trump. The committee is expected to refer the transcripts to the intelligence community for assessment and redaction, which could lead to a rolling release schedule that continues through October. Republicans have called for the documents to be released before the November election. (Politico / Reuters)
Trump postponed his meeting with Rod Rosenstein this week in order to not distract from the Kavanaugh congressional hearings. Trump and Rosenstein will meet next week meeting to discuss the deputy attorney general’s future at the Justice Department. (CNBC / New York Times)
House Democrats are preparing to force a vote on a plan to Robert Mueller’s investigation from interference by Trump. The proposal would force Republicans to go on the record and decide whether to consider the Mueller-protection proposal or sideline it. (Politico)
Trump claimed that he declined a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of a self-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to strike a new NAFTA deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Canada’s government said it never requested a meeting. (CNBC)
Trump held a solo press conference on Wednesday, his fourth since taking office. During the rambling 81-minute news event, Trump discussed everything from his plans for Rod Rosenstein, to trade relations between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to the allegations against Kavanaugh, which he called a “big, fat con job,” and more. (Washington Post / New York Times / Mother Jones)
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