Ford to Describe Most Terrifying Moment of Alleged Attack

Details of assault 'have been seared into my memory'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2018 5:22 AM CDT
Updated Sep 27, 2018 6:11 AM CDT
Ford: Kavanaugh Attack Is 'Seared Into My Memory'
Rachel Mitchell makes an opening statement in a court in Mesa, Ariz.   (Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Millions of Americans—including President Trump—will be watching Thursday's high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee starting at 10am Eastern. In a hearing room that seats a few dozen spectators, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, will be the first to testify, followed by Kavanaugh himself, the AP reports. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox will cover the testimonies live, while NBC, ABC, and CBS, plan to pre-empt regular daytime programming to cover developments, BuzzFeed reports. A roundup of coverage:

  • "Seared into my memory." In prepared opening remarks, which can be seen in full here, Ford says she is "terrified," but believes it is her civic duty to come forward. She gives details of the alleged assault, which she says "have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult." She says she feared Kavanaugh would rape her after pushing her onto a bed and trying to remove her clothes—and the most terrifying moment was when he put his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming and she feared he might accidentally kill her. She also describes the decision to come forward, the "terrifying" consequences she has faced, and says: "It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth."

  • "I was not perfect." In his own remarks, which can be seen here, Kavanaugh "categorically and unequivocally" denies Ford's allegations and what he describes as "last-minute smears" from other accusers. "I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today," he says of his time in high school. "I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now. But that's not why we are here today."
  • Kavanaugh's Senate defenders. Republicans have hired prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to avoid having Ford interrogated by their all-male committee contingent, but at least three GOP senators haven't ruled out asking questions, Politico reports. "When a woman says something, she needs to be heard. But when you accuse someone of a crime, the accuser needs to be tested," says Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sens. John Cornyn and Orrin Hatch may also have questions for Ford, though senators will be limited to five minutes each.
  • Democratic strategy. Democratic senators are expecting to press Kavanaugh about his teenage drinking and ask if he'd be willing to undergo FBI questioning. An aide tells the AP that senators might try to rattle Kavanaugh by highlighting inconsistencies in his statements. Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons says an obvious place to start will be the contrast between the judge's images of "choir boy and frat boy."

  • Republicans hope to keep it boring. Republicans are hoping for an "orderly, lawyerly" proceeding with no fireworks, Vox reports. Aides predict that they will focus on setting a high burden of proof, and on highlighting reasonable doubts—without undermining Ford enough to provoke a backlash.
  • The role of Rachel Mitchell. Much will depend on how much empathy is shown by Mitchell, a prosecutor from Phoenix with experience in similar cases, the Hill reports. "Either this is someone who deeply understands, respects, and fights for victims and is able to conduct questioning of Dr. Ford that is respectful," Coons says. "Or this is someone who knows to be aggressive and focused and take a prosecutorial tone, and I don’t think that will turn out well for the majority."
  • A hearing that will be remembered for decades. The Washington Post predicts that like the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearing, Thursday's hearing will be spoken about for years to come—especially since at least three of the Democrats on the committee, Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, could end up challenging Trump in 2020.
(Read more Brett Kavanaugh stories.)

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