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Live coverage: Senators plan next steps after Kavanaugh-Ford hearing

Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination is hanging in the balance on Thursday after he and Christine Blasey Ford offered testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party the two attended as high schoolers in the early 1980s, a charge the nominee has adamantly rejected as false.

With a handful of senators undecided on Kavanaugh's confirmation, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE's second pick for the Supreme Court faces a difficult path. His road to the court will likely be determined by how the undecided senators view the testimony from he and Ford.

The Hill will be providing live coverage all day of the hearing and its aftermath.

Read more about Thursday's hearings here.

Senate vote on Kavanaugh still planned for Friday

8:30 p.m.

Republicans emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting on Thursday night planning to move forward with an initial vote on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination on Friday.

GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown MORE (Texas) told reporters that the plan is for the Judiciary Committee to hold a vote on Kavanaugh on Friday, followed by an initial procedural vote in the full Senate on Monday and a final vote on his nomination on Tuesday.

"I'm optimistic, yeah. I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be voted out positively," Cornyn told reporters as he left the Capitol for the night.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US McConnell sets key Kavanaugh vote for Friday MORE (R-Mo.), another member of leadership, said that the plan is for the Judiciary Committee to vote on Friday. That would allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.) to file cloture on Saturday, which would tee up the two additional votes early next week.

Republicans are moving forward even as they acknowledged leaving the roughly hour long meeting that its was unclear if they had the votes to ultimately get Kavanaugh confirmed or even reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee.

Several GOP senators, including Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: Palin unpopular in Alaska following jab at Murkowski Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Ex-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party MORE (Alaska), remain undecided. Because Republicans hold a narrow 51-seat majority they can only afford to lose one GOP senator and still confirm Kavanaugh without help from Democrats.

– Jordain Carney

Moderate Republicans remain undecided on Kavanaugh after hearing

7:45 p.m. 

Senate Republican moderates remain undecided on how to vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after nearly eight hours of testimony before the Judiciary Committee, according to Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Blankenship endorses ex-W.Va. GOP Senate rival, calls him 'lying' drug lobbyist MORE (W.Va.), a swing Democrat vote who met with Republicans Thursday evening.

Manchin huddled with three of the undecided Republican votes, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), in a Capitol hideaway office before the entire GOP conference met to discuss how to proceed on the controversial nominee.

Manchin said it did not appear that Collins, Murkowski or Flake had decided how to vote on Kavanaugh, who vigorously denied allegations that he attempted to sexually assault Christine Blasey Ford when they were both in high school.

“Everyone’s trying to get some answers to a few things and we’ll go from there,” Manchin said after meeting with his GOP colleagues. “We’ve talked and we’re still talking. There’s no decisions made on anything, I can assure you of that.

“There are some concerns that people have and they’re going to try to close the loop,” he told reporters.

“We’re friends. We talk. There’s no decisions on anything. No one told me they made a decision and we’re all still looking and talking and comparing,” he added.

– Alexander Bolton

Trump praises Kavanaugh after hearing ends

6:45 p.m. 

President Trump tweeted his praise for Kavanaugh almost immediately after the hearing was adjourned around 6:45 p.m.

"Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. 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!" Trump tweeted.

Kavanaugh says he did not watch Ford's testimony

6:30 p.m.

Brett Kavanaugh said he did not watch the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s.

“I planned to,” he told Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Kamala Harris rallies voters in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.), who had asked him the question. “I planned to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”

CBS News confirmed that Ford was not watching Kavanaugh’s testimony either.

During her line of questioning Harris also asked Kavanaugh is he’s willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the allegations of sexual assault he’s facing.

“I’ve had six background investigations over the 26 years,” Kavanaugh said.

Harris said she’s asking if he’s willing to ask for an investigation into the most recent allegations.

“The witness testimony is before you,” he said. “No witness who was there supports that I was there.”

“I’m going to take that as a no and we can move,” Harris quipped.

– Lydia Wheeler 

Republicans meeting after Kavanaugh hearing to plan next steps

6:35 p.m.

Senate Republicans will meet behind closed doors after the Judiciary Committee hearing ends Thursday evening to discuss the timeline for Kavanaugh's nomination.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the Senate GOP leader has organized the meeting, though the exact timing of the meeting is fluid because of the ongoing hearing.

"Leader McConnell organized this meeting to discuss the upcoming floor and vote schedule," the spokesperson added.

The meeting will come after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford spent hours testifying before the panel on Thursday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination tentatively scheduled for Friday.

But GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) has yet to say if he will support Kavanaugh. If he doesn't, Trump's nominee won't have the support needed to be recommended favorably to the full Senate.

Republicans have other procedural options for getting Kavanaugh to the floor, but he currently remains short of the simple majority needed to be confirmed.

In addition to Flake, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) remain undecided. 

Republicans hold a 51-seat majority, meaning they could lose one GOP senator before they need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.

– Jordain Carney 

Kavanaugh bristles at 'sloppy drunk' description

5:50 p.m. 

Kavanaugh bristled at the description of him as a “sloppy drunk” in college, describing it as unfair.

“I do not think that’s a fair characterization,” he said.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners 15 Saudis identified in disappearance of Washington Post columnist The Senate needs to cool it MORE (D-Del.) asked him about the statements of Liz Swisher, who describes herself as a friend of Kavanaugh’s in college, who said in a recent interview that Kavanaugh drank to excess and likely blacked out when he was in college. 

“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” she said, arguing that it was not credible for Kavanaugh to claim he did not experience memory loss after heavy drinking bouts. 

Kavanaugh argued that Swisher “can’t point to any specific instances like that.” 

Kavanaugh also rejected the claim of his freshman roommate James Roche that he could become aggressive and belligerent when drunk. 

He asserted that Roche lacked credibility because there was tension among the roommates in their Yale dorm.

– Alexander Bolton

Hatch says Kavanaugh hearing 'worse than Clarence Thomas'

5:45 p.m.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah) launched a passionate defense of Kavanaugh during his remarks at the hearing.

Hatch claimed the frenzy surrounding Kavanaugh is "worse than [Robert] Bork" and "worse than [Justice] Clarence Thomas."

Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 was ultimately rejected, while Thomas was confirmed in 1991 after a high-profile hearing with Anita Hill, a woman accusing him of sexual harassment.

"If Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, he should not serve on the Supreme Court, I think we’d all agree with that," Hatch said.

The GOP senator said the process "has brought out the worst in our politics."

"It certainly has brought us no closer to the truth," Hatch said.

"Anonymous letters with no name and no return address are now being treated as national news," he continued. "Porn star lawyers with factually implausible claims are driving the news cycle."

– Emily Birnbaum

Kavanaugh apologizes for asking Klobuchar question about drinking

5:40 p.m.

After returning from a break, Kavanaugh began by apologizing to Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharIs there a difference between good and bad online election targeting? Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas Clusters of polio-like illness in the US not a cause for panic MORE (D-Minn.) for asking her a question during the hearing about blacking out from drinking too much alcohol.

"I'm sorry I did that, this is a tough process," Kavanaugh said.

"I appreciate that," Klobuchar responded. "I would like to add, when you have a parent that is an alcoholic, you're pretty careful about drinking."

"I was truly just trying to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence," she added as Kavanaugh nodded.

Kavanaugh was asked earlier by outside counsel Rachel Mitchell if he had "passed out" while drinking.

Kavanaugh responded, that he hadn't. "But I’ve gone to sleep. But I’ve never blacked out — that’s the allegation. And that’s, that’s wrong."

– Jordain Carney

Kavanaugh asks Klobuchar if she has blacked out from drinking

5:18 p.m.

Kavanaugh appeared to try to turn the tables on Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) when she asked if he had ever drunk to the degree that he could not remember what happened or parts of what had happened.

"That's what you're asking about, yeah, black out, I don't know — have you?" Kavanaugh said in response to Klobuchar's question.

Klobuchar, who is viewed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate and is one of four female senators on the committee, sidestepped, instead asking Kavanaugh if he was saying he had not blacked out from drinking too much alcohol.

"Yeah, and I'm curious if you have," Kavanaugh replied.

When Klobuchar said she didn't have a "drinking problem," Kavanaugh fired back: "Yeah, neither do I."

Kavanaugh's questioning of Klobuchar came shortly after the Minnesota senator talked about her dad's longtime struggle with alcoholism. 

Asked by outside counsel Rachel Mitchell earlier about whether he had "passed out" while drinking, Kavanaugh responded, that he hadn't.

"But I’ve gone to sleep. But I’ve never blacked out, that’s the allegation. And that’s, that’s wrong," he said.

Cornyn calls hearing most 'embarrassing scandal' since McCarthy

5:08 p.m.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) lashed out at his Democratic colleagues, saying Thursday's hearing was the most "embarrassing" scandal since hearings held by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

"Judge, I can't think of a more embarrassing scandal for the United States Senate since the McCarthy hearings when the comment was about the cruelty of the process toward the people involved," Cornyn told Kavanaugh.

Making reference to an Army lawyer asking McCarthy if he had "no sense of decency," Cornyn added that "I'm afraid we've lost that, at least for the time being."

– Jordain Carney 

White House praises Graham's fiery defense of Kavanaugh

5:05 p.m.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and presidential counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayTrump and Kellyanne Conway's husband spar about columnist Hatch mocks Warren over DNA test with his own results showing '1/1032 T-Rex' Conway responds to Warren DNA test: 'Junk science' that 'really doesn't interest me' MORE took to Twitter to praise Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Trump should stick to his guns and close failed South Carolina nuclear MOX project CNN's Smerconish: What do Saudis have over American presidents? MORE's (R-S.C.) fiery comments blasting committee Democrats and defending Kavanaugh.

Graham explodes at Dems, rips confirmation as 'unethical sham'

5:01 p.m.

A visibly angry Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yelled at Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight MORE (Ill.) and other committee Democrats in a fiery exchange during Thursday’s hearing, accusing them of trying to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life.

“If you wanted a FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, you could have come to us," Graham said after asking Kavanaugh if he knew Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDurbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks MORE's (D-Calif.) staff had the allegation of sexual assault against him for more than 20 days.

"What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that not me,” Graham yelled, his face turning red.

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” he said, turning to Kavanaugh. “When you see [Supreme Court justices] Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lindsey said hello, ‘cause I voted for them."

Turning back to Durbin and Feinstein, Graham added, “I would never do to them what you do to this guy.” 

Graham called the fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation the most "unethical sham" he’s seen since he’s been in politics.

“And if you really wanted to know the truth you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy,” he said.

The South Carolina Republican also said he hopes Democrats never regain control of the Senate.

“Boy, you all want power, God, I hope you never get it,” he said. “I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it."

Graham asked Kavanaugh if he considers the confirmation process to be like a job interview and if he’d say he’s been through hell.  

Kavanaugh said he’s been through hell and then some.

“This is not a job interview. This is hell,” Graham said. “This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap.” 

Graham said Kavanaugh has been around professional women all his life and not a single accusation has come out against him until now.

“You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school and all of a sudden you’ve gotten over it,” he said, referring to the famous TV actor who was recently sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting women.

"It’s my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school you probably don’t stop,” Graham said. 

– Lydia Wheeler

Durbin to Kavanaugh: Ask White House to suspend this hearing until FBI investigation

4:54 p.m.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Kavanaugh that he should turn to his left and ask White House counsel Don McGahn to suspend the hearing until the FBI investigates the allegations against him.

"I've got a suggestion for you, right now, turn to your left in the front row to Don McGahn, counsel to President Donald Trump, ask him to suspend this hearing and nomination process until the FBI completes its investigation," Durbin told Kavanaugh.

Grassley intervened for Kavanaugh telling committee staffers to "stop the clock."

"This committee is running this hearing. Not the White House. Not Don McGahn. Not even you as a nominee," Grassley said. "We're not suspending this hearing."

But Durbin added that if Kavanaugh would ask for an FBI investigation, he believed the committee would wait for the investigation to wrap up.

"I welcome whatever the committee wants to do because I'm telling the truth," Kavanaugh said.

Durbin fired back that he wanted to know what Kavanaugh wanted. When Kavanaugh replied that he was willing to undergo whatever the committee wanted, Durbin reiterated, "I want to know what you want to do."

"I'm innocent. I'm innocent of this charge," Kavanaugh said.

Durbin's line of questioning drew backlash from his GOP colleagues after he asked Kavanaugh whether he was afraid that the FBI would find that he was lying.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) was caught over his microphone saying "please," in an exasperated tone, while Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) added "gee whiz."

Kavanaugh added that Durbin was asking a "phony" question.

- Jordain Carney

Kavanaugh declines to say if yearbook refers to heavy drinking

4:55 p.m.

Kavanaugh declined to directly answer Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE’s (D-R.I.) question about whether the reference to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” in his high school yearbook profile was about throwing up from heavy drinking.

Asked by Whitehouse if the word “ralph” referred to alcohol, Kavanaugh said “I already answered the question,” appearing to allude to his testimony that he attended parties in high school.

When Whitehouse still pressed, “Did it relate to alcohol,” Kavanaugh appeared to become more annoyed.

“I like beer,” he said. “Do you like beer, senator? What do you like to drink.”

When Whitehouse ignored his question, Kavanaugh repeated, “Senator, what do you like to drink.”

Whitehouse then asked Kavanaugh about the yearbook line, “Have you boofed yet?”

Kavanaugh said it wasn’t drinking-related.

“That refers to flatulence. We were 16,” he said.

The entry was from the 1983 Georgetown Preparatory School yearbook, when Kavanaugh, who was born in February of 1965 would have been 18.

UrbanDictionary.com defines boofing as abusing a substance by inserting it into one’s rectum.

Vox.com speculated it was a “slang term for anal sex.”

Westword, a free alternative weekly in Denver, Colo., wrote in a 2017 article that boofing was inserting drugs and alcohol up one’s rectum.

- Alexander Bolton

Kavanaugh says he's never blacked out from drinking

4:15 p.m.

Brett Kavanaugh during a round of questioning by outside counsel Rachel Mitchell said he has never blacked out due to drinking alcohol.

Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony accused him of being drunk during the alleged assault.

Mitchell began by asking Kavanaugh if he drank in high school.

"Yes, we drank beer," Kavanaugh said. "My friends and I, boys and girls, yes, we drank beer. I liked beer, still like beer. We drank beer."

"And I said, sometimes, sometimes, probably had too many beers and sometimes other people probably had too many beers," he said.

He repeated several times that he and his friends "drank beer" and "liked beer," noting that the "majority" of people his age at the time also drank beer.

"Have you ever passed out from drinking?" Mitchell asked following some back-and-forth.

"I’ve never blacked out," Kavanaugh said. "That’s the allegation and that - that’s wrong."

Kavanaugh chuckled slightly when Mitchell asked him if he had ever woken up with his "clothes in a different condition" after a night of drinking.

"No," he replied. "No."

– Emily Birnbaum

Kavanaugh explains controversial “Renate alumnius” reference in yearbook

3:50 p.m.

Brett Kavanaugh told committee members that a reference in his high school yearbook profile to “Renate alumnius” was not a sexual reference and contended it has been misinterpreted by the media. 

It was a reference to Renate Schroeder Dolphin, whose name appeared more than a dozen times in the 1983 Georgetown Preparatory School yearbook. 

The reference has raised speculation that Kavanaugh and other classmates were bragging about sexual relations with Dolphin, who called the insinuation “horrible, hurtful and simply untrue” in a statement to The New York Times.

“That yearbook reference was clumsily intended to show affection, that she was one of us. But in this circus the media has interpreted it in terms related to sex. It was not related to sex,” Kavanaugh told the Senate committee.

He noted that Dolphin told The Times that she never kissed Kavanaugh.

Alexandra Walsh, a lawyer for Kavanaugh, said earlier this week that Kavanaugh claimed to have attended on high school event with Dolphin and kissed her goodnight.

Kavanaugh told the committee he never had any sexual relations with Dolphin.

“So sorry to her for that yearbook reference,” he said.

He also repeated his claim made during a Fox News Channel interview earlier in the week that he “never had sexual intercourse or anything close to it during high school or for many years after that.”

– Alexander Bolton

Kavanaugh: Swetnick allegation 'a farce'

4:16 p.m.

Kavanaugh on Thursday sharply dismissed a sexual misconduct allegation brought by a third woman, Julie Swetnick, on the eve of his Senate testimony.

"The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce," Kavanaugh told senators following a testy exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 

Asked by Feinstein if he wanted to say more about the allegation, Kavanaugh declined. 

The exchange came after Feinstein and Kavanaugh battled over asking the FBI to reopen its background investigation into the nominee to investigate the alleged incidents.

"It's not for me to say how to do it. But just so you know the FBI doesn't reach a conclusion. They would give you a couple 302s that just tell you what we said," he said.

"It's an outrage that I was not allowed to come and immediately defend my name and say I didn't do this. And give you all this evidence," Kavanaugh continued.

Feinstein added that senators heard from the witnesses but the FBI wasn't interviewing them or giving the committee "facts."

"You're interviewing me. You're interviewing me," Kavanaugh said, cutting off Feinstein. "You're doing it senator. I'm sorry to interrupt, but you're doing it."

Swetnick alleged in a sworn declaration released by lawyer Michael Avenatti on Wednesday that Kavanaugh was present at a "gang rape" at which she was a victim in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh has flatly denied the allegation.

– Jordain Carney 

Kavanaugh defends against allegations: 'Revenge on behalf of the Clintons'

3:42 p.m.

Kavanaugh, during his emotional opening remarks, called Democratic opposition to his nomination "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."

"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," he said, openly seething.

"This is a circus," Kavanaugh said, his voice raised. "The consequences will extend long past my nomination, the consequences will be with us for decades."

Throughout his testimony, the embattled Supreme Court nominee targeted Democrats who have openly opposed him, blaming them for destroying his family. He quoted Democratic leaders who have called him "evil," looking directly at Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (D-N.J.) as he did so, "your worst nightmare" and warned he would "threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come."

"I would say to those senators: Your words have meaning," he said. "Millions of Americans listen carefully to you."

"Given comments like those, is it any surprise that people have been willing to do anything, to make any physical threat against my family, to send any violent email to my wife, to make any kind of allegation against me and against my friends, to blow me up and take me down?" he asked. "You sowed the wind for decades to come."

"The whole country will reap the whirlwind," he said.

– Emily Birnbaum

Kavanaugh to Dems: You might defeat my nomination, but I won't withdraw
 
3:20 p.m.
 
Kavanaugh, appearing to speak to Democrats on the committee, said that his nomination might be defeated on the Senate floor, but he would not withdraw his name for the Supreme Court.
 
"I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. You've tried hard. You've given it your all. No one can question your effort," Kavanaugh told members on the Judiciary Committee.
 
But he added that a "coordinated and well-funded effort" would not "drive me out."
 
"You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit. Never," Kavanaugh told senators.
 
Kavanaugh's nomination remains short of the simple majority needed to be confirmed by the full Senate. His testimony comes as several moderate senators in both parties remain undecided even as the Senate could vote as early as next week.
 
– Jordain Carney

Kavanaugh: Senate confirmation process is 'a national disgrace'

3:15 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh began his at times emotional opening statement by blasting the Senate’s confirmation process as “a national disgrace.”

He said the Senate’s constitutional role of “advice and consent” has been twisted into “search and destroy.”

“Since my nomination in July, there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation,” he said, noting that Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) vowed to fight his nomination with “with everything I’ve got.”

He also singled out Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, for saying that colleagues who don’t oppose Kavanaugh are “complicit in the evil.”

He faulted senators for leaving him twisting in the wind after Ford’s allegation of sexual assault first surfaced nearly two weeks ago.

“As was predictable and I predicted, my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations,” he said, his voice nearly breaking with emotion. “The 10 day delay has been harmful to me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country.”

– Alexander Bolton

Ford testimony ends, Grassley thanks her for her 'bravery'

2:20 p.m.

Grassley dismissed Ford after nearly four hours of testimony and thanked her for her “bravery” in speaking to the committee publicly.

“Dr. Ford, I can only speak as one of 21 senators here but I thank you very much for your testimony — more importantly for your bravery coming out and trying to answer our questions as best you can remember."

Members of the audience began calling out “thank you Dr. Ford” as soon as Grassley announced a 45-minute recess.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was overheard telling Ford, “Thank you for telling the truth,” as she exited the hearing room.

The committee will reconvene about 3 p.m. to hear testimony from Kavanaugh.

– Alexander Bolton

GOP counsel: No study says this setup the 'the best way' to question trauma victims
 
2:18 p.m.
 
Rachel Mitchell, a lawyer hired by Republicans to interview Ford, finished up her questioning by asking if the 51-year old professor knew the best way to question alleged trauma victims.
 
"Would you believe me if I told you that says there's no study that says that this setting in five minute increments is the best way to do that?" Mitchell asked.
 
Her comment drew laugher within the hearing room and immediate questions from reporters on social media if Mitchell was trying to undercut the setup Republicans asked for.
 
Ford's lawyer joked: "We can stipulate that."
 
Mitchell added that the best way to interview trauma victims was one-one-one and not a public hearing.
 
"Did you know that the best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer talk to you one on one in a private setting and to let you do the talking—just let you do the narrative," she asked.
 
– Jordain Carney 
 
Harris to Ford: You are not on trial

2:15 p.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a potential 2020 White House contender, used her time to question Ford to instead give a quasi-closing argument for the witness, saying she was "not on trial" and that she believed her allegation.

"You are not on trial. You are not on trial. You are sitting here before the United States Judiciary Committee because you had the courage to come forward because as you have said you believe it was your civic duty," Harris told Ford.

Harris did not ask Ford any questions, instead laying out Ford's allegation and the timeline for reaching out to the media and lawmakers.

"I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your courage, and I want to tell you I believe you. I believe you and I believe many Americans across this country believe you," Harris said.

Harris, pointing to her own background as a prosecutor, noted that sexual assault victims routinely delay coming forward to report the incident, if they report at all.

And she praised Ford for calling for additional witnesses and for the FBI to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh.

"You have passed a polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not. You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify, Judge Kavanaugh has not. But most importantly you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not and we owe you that," Harris said.

– Jordain Carney

Booker calls Ford 'heroic'

2:05 p.m.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) used most of his questioning to praise Ford for coming forward with her story, calling her "heroic." He also spoke at length about her allegation in the context of the "Me Too" movement against sexual misconduct.

"You’re affecting the culture of our country," Booker told Ford.

"You are speaking truth that this country needs to understand," Booker continued. "How we deal with survivors who come forward right now is unacceptable. The way that we deal with this allows for the continued darkness of this culture to exist and your brilliance shining light onto this, speaking your truth, is nothing short of heroic."

Booker asked Ford how her husband and family have been affected by the media frenzy surrounding her allegations and how she feels about the Senate's handling of her allegations.

"I wish that I could be more helpful and that others could be more helpful and that we could collaborate in a way that would get at more information," Ford said.

– Emily Birnbaum

Ford emphasizes no 'political motivation'

1:55 p.m.

In a new round of questioning, Ford doubled down on her insistence that there was no "political motivation" behind her decision to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh.

"The Republicans' prosecutor has asked you all kinds of questions about who you called and when," Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoKavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight Chris Cuomo: Presumption of innocence didn't apply to Kavanaugh because it wasn't a court case Lindsey Graham hits Dem senator: 'The Hirono standard is horrific' MORE (D-Hawaii) said. "Asking details that would be asked in a cross-examination of a witness in a criminal trial, but this is not a criminal proceeding. This is a confirmation proceeding."

"I think I know what [prosecutor Rachel Mitchell] is trying to get, so I’ll just ask you very plainly: Dr. Ford, is there a political motivation for your coming forward with your account of the assault by Brett Kavanaugh?" Hirono asked.

"No," Ford responded.

Democratic senators and Ford throughout the hearing emphasized that she first anonymously alerted her congresswoman's office and The Washington Post about her allegation in July, when Kavanaugh was on the short list of those being considered for the high court.

"I was trying to get the information to you while there was still a list of other, what looked like equally qualified, candidates," Ford said.

– Emily Birnbaum 

Hearing breaks for lunch

12:45 p.m.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October MORE (R-Iowa) said the hearing would go on break for half an hour for lunch, with the hearing resuming shortly after 1 p.m.

Ford appeared for more than two hours before the hearing went on break. Read our initial coverage of her testimony here and see updates below.

Graham jumps into hearing

12:39 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) chimed in during the hearing, becoming the first GOP senator, besides Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), to try to ask Ford a question.

Rachel Mitchell, the outside counsel being used by Republicans, asked Ford if her lawyer had told her that the Judiciary Committee staff had asked to interview her and were willing to come out to California, where Ford lives.

When Ford's lawyer initially objected, saying they weren't going to discuss a privileged conversation, Graham interjected: "Could you validate the fact that the offer was made without her saying a word?"

Ford then spoke directly to Grassley, saying she wasn't clear on what his offer was but that if he had been willing to come to California "I would have happily hosted you."

– Jordain Carney

Ford responds to 'boys will be boys' explanation for alleged assault

12:35 p.m.

Sen. Christopher Coons during his five minutes denounced those who have explained Kavanaugh's alleged attack by saying "boys will be boys."

The Delaware Democrat said he is "troubled" by this "excuse," calling it a low standard to hold boys and men to.

"If you would, I’d appreciate your reaction to the excuse that 'boys will be boys,'" Coons said.

"I can only speak for how this has impacted me greatly for the last 36 years even though I was 15 years old at the time," Ford replied. "I think the younger you are when these things happen, it can possibly have worse impacts than when your brain is fully developed and you have better coping skills than what you’ve developed."

Coons also spoke about how sexual assault survivors have mobilized around Ford following her allegations.

"Some thousands of survivors have been motivated and inspired by your courage," Coons said.

"About two-thirds of sexual assault survivors don’t report their assaults," he said. "Based in your experience, I’d be interested in hearing from you about this because you bore this alone. You bore this alone for a very long time."

– Emily Birnbaum

Grassley, Klobuchar spar over polygraph test, handling of hearing

12:30 p.m.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) clashed at one point over a polygraph taken by Ford and the set up for the hearing.

Klobuchar requested that a report from the polygraph exam be entered into the record. But Grassley hesitated initially, asking for "underlying charts."

A lawyer for Ford noted that they had proposed having the polygraph examiner testify but said Grassley had rejected the request.

After Grassley said he would allow Klobuchar to put the report into the record, Klobuchar began to note that Grassley had rejected their request for the examiner to testify before the GOP senator interrupted her.

"We've accepted it," Grassley said.

The back-and-forth came as Grassley defended his timeline for holding the hearing, noting that he began looking into Ford's allegation after she discussed it publicly.

"We've got to realize that what we have done in this case, of all the time you go through a background investigation by the FBI, then it comes to us, and there's always some holes in it that we have to follow up on," Grassley said.

Klobuchar began to interrupt him to make a comparison to the 1991 hearings involving Anita Hill, but GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) interrupted her, saying: "Can we hear from Dr. Ford?"

– Jordain Carney

Outside counsel seeks to cast doubt on date of assault, notes of Ford's therapist  

12:06 p.m.

Outside counsel Rachel Mitchell in her questioning sought to raise doubts about the date of Ford's assault and the therapist's notes Ford has cited as proof that the assault has had a long-term affected on her.

Mitchell cited a July 6 text from Ford to The Washington Post in which she claimed the alleged attack happened "in the mid-1980s." Then, in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) office, Ford said it happened in the “early 80s," Mitchell noted.

In her interview with the Post, Ford said it occurred in the "summer of 1982," Mitchell pointed out.

"How were you able to narrow down the time frame?" Mitchell asked.

"I’m just using memories of when I got my driver’s license," Ford said. "I was 15 at the time. I did not drive home from that party or to that party. Once I got my driver’s license, I liked to drive myself."

The Post cited therapist's notes from Ford's counseling sessions in 2012 and 2013, during which she discussed the emotional trauma she has endured following the assault.

Mitchell asked if Ford had provided those notes to the Post.

"I don’t remember, I remember summarizing for her what they said," Ford said. "I’m not sure if I actually gave her the record."

"So, it’s possible that the reporter did not see these notes?" Mitchell asked.

Ford said she couldn't recall, adding she has shown the notes to her legal team.

– Emily Birnbaum 

Trump watched Ford testimony on Air Force One

11:55 a.m.

President Trump watched the opening segment of Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday while flying on Air Force One, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard the presidential aircraft.

Televisions inside the presidential plane were tuned to Fox News' coverage of the hearing, according to reporters on the plane.

Trump was returning to Washington late Thursday morning after spending several days in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

GOP circulating map showing distance between Ford's home and party

11:39 a.m.

GOP staff is circulating a document in the hearing room showing an 8-mile distance between Ford's house and the Columbia Country Club, which she says is located near the party.

The map is likely intended to follow up on the question from Rachel Mitchell about how Ford got home after the party.

Mitchell during the questioning asked Ford if she remembers how she got home. Ford replies she does not.
 
"I do not remember [how I got home] other than I did not drive home," Ford told Mitchell.
 
"I’m going to show you, if somebody could provide to you, a map of the various peoples’ houses at the time," Mitchell said. "And if you could verify that this is where you were living at the time."
 
At that point, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) interrupted to demand a copy of the map.
 
"Mr. Chairman, do we have a copy of these documents?" Harris asked.  
 
"If you want one, we can get you one," Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) replied.
 
"Yes, but before the questions begin so we can follow the testimony," Harris, a former prosecutor, insisted.
 
A member of Grassley's staff leaned in to tell him members would receive copies of the map.
 
"You have another 30 seconds now because I was rudely interrupted," Grassley told Mitchell after some back-and-forth with Harris and his staffer.
 
– Emily Birnbaum
 

Grassley responds to accusations of obstruction

11:39 a.m.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) snapped at Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) during Thursday's hearing after he praised Christine Blasey Ford for coming forward publicly with her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Before Durbin began his line of questioning, he told Ford that her willingness to name Kavanaugh and eyewitness Mark Judge stands in stark contrast from the obstruction Democrats have seen from Republicans on the committee.

But when he was finished, Grassley said he couldn't let the comment pass without responding before the hearing recessed for a short break.

“You talked about the obstruction from the other side, I cannot let it go by what you’ve heard me say so many times that between July 30 and Sept. 13 there were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation and her privacy would have been protected,” he said.

“So, something happened here on your side ... we should have investigated it,” Grassley said.

Grassley has already scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation for Friday and the Senate plans to hold a floor vote early next week. 

– Lydia Wheeler

Ford recalls 'uproarious laughter' during alleged incident

11:18 a.m.

Ford gave an emotional recollection about the "uproarious laughter" she says she heard during the moment her attackers cornered her in a room.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (D-Vt.) asked Ford to recall her "strongest memory" from the assault. She has said Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge stood beside them as the attack unfolded, laughing.

"What is the strongest memory you have?" Leahy asked. "Something you cannot forget?"

"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and they’re having fun at my expense," Ford said, her voice strained and emotional.

"You’ve never forgotten that laughter?" Leahy asked. "Never forgotten them laughing at you?"

"I was underneath one of them while the two laughed," Ford said, seeming to tear up. "Two friends having a really good time with one another." 

– Emily Birnbaum

Ford says incident 'absolutely not' case of mistaken identity

11:15 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that she is certain that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to cover her mouth to prevent her from screaming at a high school party and that it’s “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identity.

Ford told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, that while she couldn’t remember who pushed her into a room at a high school party 36 years ago, she has a clear memory of Kavanaugh covering her mouth to prevent her from screaming as he pinned her to a bed.

Asked by Feinstein how she could be so sure, Ford replied, “The same way that I’m sure I’m talking to you right now. Basic memory functions.”

When Feinstein asked if there is any chance that it’s a case of mistaken identity, Ford responded emphatically, “absolutely not.”

Judiciary Committee investigators spoke to two men earlier this week who say that they may have been involved in a sexual assault against Ford and think she may be confusing Kavanaugh with one of them.

– Alexander Bolton

Ford: 'I struggled' after attack

11:11 a.m.

Ford detailed for senators on Thursday that she "struggled" with the side effects of her assault, including "anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like systems."

"I struggled academically. I struggled very much in Chapel Hill," Ford told senators, referring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"When I was 17 and went off to college I had a very hard time, more so than others, forming new friendship and especially friendships with boys," she added, when asked about impacts of the incident.

In addition to anxiety, Ford told senators that she also suffers from "claustrophobia," part of the reason that she has two front doors on her house.

– Jordain Carney

Grassley interrupts prosecutor in middle of questioning

11:10 a.m.

The sex-crimes prosecutor hired by Republicans to interview Ford was interrupted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) partway through her first round of questioning. 
 
Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell drew Ford's attention to "five pieces of information" on the table in front of her but was only able to ask questions about two. 
 
Mitchell first asked Ford about "a screenshot of WhatsApp texting between you and somebody at The Washington Post." Ford had the screenshot in front of her. 
 
Ford read the screenshots, then said there is "one correction." 
 
"I misused the word 'bystander' as an adjective," she said after a few moments. "Bystander means someone that is looking at an assault and the person named 'PJ' was not technically a bystander. I was writing very quickly with a sense of urgency." 
 
"I would not call him a bystander," she said. "He was downstairs." 
 
"PJ" has been named as Patrick J. Smyth, a former classmate of Kavanaugh. Smyth through his lawyer said he did not attend the party in Ford's account.
 
Mitchell then drew Ford's attention to the letter she wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), dated July 30. 
 
Ford read the letter and then said "I have three areas I'd like to address." She said she "could not guarantee" there weren't more than four people at the party in question. She also said she "can't promise" Kavanaugh pushed her into the bedroom, as she wrote in the original letter.  
 
"I can’t promise that Mark judge didn’t assist with that," she said.
 
Grassley at that point interrupted. 
 
"I want to keep people within five minutes, is that a major problem for you in the middle of a question?" he asked. "I’ve got to treat everybody the same." 
 
Mitchell ended her questioning.
 
– Emily Birnbaum
 
Female prosecutor starts by apologizing to Ford for being terrified
 
11:05 a.m.
 
Rachel Mitchell, the outside counsel hired by Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, briefly apologized to Ford after she told lawmakers that she was "terrified" as she gave her opening statement. 
 
"The first thing that struck me from your statement this morning was that you’re terrified and I just wanted to let you know I’m very sorry. That’s not right," Mitchell told Ford before outlining the guidelines for how she would ask her questions.
 
Ford referenced during her opening statement that she was speaking publicly despite being "terrified" and that she and her family had been forced out of their home. 
 
"I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified," she told senators. "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."
 
– Jordain Carney
 
Ford delivers opening statement
 
10:50 a.m.
 
Christine Blasey Ford struggled to retain her composure on Thursday as she described in gripping detail before a rapt Senate panel how she was sexually assaulted at a party as a high school student — she says by Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
 
In a breathless voice, Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee how she thought Kavanaugh might accidentally kill her when he put his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming after pinning her down to a bed and groping her.
 
Ford at times appeared to be fighting back tears as she told the committee about how she discussed the assault in a 2012 therapy session but tried not to think about it or discuss it much after.
 
“After that May 2012 therapy session, I did my best to suppress memories of the assault because recounting the details caused me to relive the experience, and caused panic attacks and anxiety,” she said.
 
The hearing room was dead silent as Ford delivered her testimony, her voice trembling.
 
Every senator on the committee was present and many of them sat forward in their seats, either looking intently at the witness or with their eyes cast down.
 
There were no whispered side conversations and the only sound that could be heard aside from Ford’s testimony was the feverish typing from reporters packed into the back of the room.
 
Read her full opening prepared remarks here
 
– Lydia Wheeler and Alex Bolton 
 
Grassley pushes back on 'unsubstantiated' allegations against Kavanaugh

10:45 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) cited statements from Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale who say he drank more in college than he indicated during his confirmation process and an interview with Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum earlier this week.

She quoted a statement from James Roche, Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate, saying that Kavanaugh was “frequently and incoherently drunk” and that was when “he became aggressive and belligerent.” 

Feinstein also quoted classmate Liz Swisher’s statement “there’s no medical way to say he was blacked out but it’s not credible for him to say that he has no memory lapses in the nights he drank to excess.”

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reproached Feinstein for bringing up what he said where “unsubstantiated” charges at a hearing intended to hear Ford’s testimony about an incident she says happened when Kavanaugh was in high school.

“I’m sorry you brought up the unsubstantiated allegations of other people. We’re here for the sole purpose of listening to Dr. Ford and will listen to other issues at other times,” he said.

– Alexander Bolton

Feinstein blasts Republicans for 'rush to judgment'

10:40 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hit back at Republicans' handling of Kavanaugh's nomination saying they were trying to "plow right through" and unwilling to take Ford's "allegations at face value." 

"What I find most inexcusable is this rush to judgment. The unwillingness to take these allegations at face value and take them for what they are," Feinstein said as part of her opening statement.

Feinstein compared Republicans' handling of Ford's allegation to the 1991 hearing where Anita Hill testified about her allegation that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

Feinstein noted that in 1991 Republicans "belittled Professor Hill's experience." 

"Today our Republican colleagues are saying this is a 'hiccup,' Dr. Ford is 'mixed up,'" Feinstein added, referring to comments from GOP Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Biden: American values being 'shredded' under Trump Trump says Heller won lone Nevada Senate debate: 'He beat her very badly' MORE (Nev.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). 

Feinstein argued that Republicans were not open to having their support for Kavanaugh swayed by Ford's testimony. 

"What's worse, many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have also made it clear that no matter what happens today the Senate will plow right through," she said, referring to comments Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made last week.

She noted that in addition to Ford, two other women have come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct and asked for the FBI to investigate — something both the White House and Senate Republicans have said will not happen. 

This is "about the integrity of that institution and the integrity of this institution. ... I hope the majority changes their tactics [and] opens their mind," Feinstein said. 

Feinstein defends handling of Ford letter 

10:25 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended her handling of a confidential letter that Ford sent to senators detailing her sexual assault allegation.

"Yes, I did receive a letter from Dr. Ford, it was conveyed to me by a member of Congress," Feinstein said. 

She added that she reached out to Ford the day after she received the letter and Ford reiterated that she did not want to come forward.

"She wanted this held confidential, and I held it confidential up to a point where the witness was willing to come forward," Feinstein said.

Feinstein's comments came after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) knocked Democrats in his opening statement, arguing that Feinstein could have shared the letter with him privately.

Grassley said he did not find out about the letter until reports about it circulated in mid-September.

– Emily Birnbaum 

Grassley, Feinstein tussle over introducing Ford

10:22 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) got a little terse with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat, over who would introduce Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to publicly accuse Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, at the start of Thursday’s hearing.

Before Feinstein started in on her opening remarks, she said she wanted to introduce Ford, who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of pinning her to a bed and groping her at a party in high school in the 1980s. 

"The chairman chose not to do this," Feinstein said. “I think it’s important to make sure you’re properly introduced."

Grassley quickly interjected.

“By the way I was going to introduce her, but if you want to introduce her I’ll be glad to have you do that, but I want you to know I didn’t forget to do it because I would do that just as she was about to speak,” he said.

Feinstein, who looked visibly annoyed, thanked the chairman and went on to make the introduction.

–Lydia Wheeler

Grassley addresses two other misconduct allegations

10:20 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during his opening remarks addressed an elephant in the room: the two other women who have publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Grassley said the committee has been "trying to investigate" the allegations from Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.

"At this time, we have not had cooperation from attorneys representing other clients, and they have made no attempt to substantiate their claims," Grassley said. "My staff has tried to secure testimony and evidence from attorneys for both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick."

Grassley said his staff made "eight requests" for evidence from Ramirez's legal team and "six requests" for evidence from Swetnick's attorney, Michael Avenatti.

"Neither attorney has made their clients available for an interview," Grassley said. "The committee can’t do an investigation if attorneys are stonewalling."

Lawyers for both Ramirez and Swetnick have said publicly they would be willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh has forcefully denied both of their allegations.

– Emily Birnbaum

GOP chairman calls Ford allegation into question

10:10 a.m.

Grassley opened the hearing with a hard-hitting statement that called into question Ford’s allegation against Kavanaugh and faulting Democrats for sitting for weeks on her letter making the accusation.

He noted that FBI has conducted several background investigations of Kavanaugh since 1993 and stated “nowhere in any of these six FBI reports which committee investigators have reviewed on a bipartisan basis was there a whiff of any issue, any issue at all related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior.”

He reminded colleagues that Ford raised her allegation in a “secret letter” to Feinstein in July and “was secret from July 30 until Sept. 13 when I first heard of it."

“The ranking member took no action. The letter wasn’t shared with me, colleagues or my staff. These allegations could have been investigated in a way that maintained confidentiality that Dr. Ford requested,” he said.

Grassley also noted that Kavanaugh met privately with 65 senators including Feinstein before his first round of hearings and no one raised the allegations in those meetings.

He also said that colleagues did not ask Kavanaugh about the allegations during his first round of hearings or a special closed session of the Judiciary Committee, which is designed for asking nominees sensitive questions.

“Only at the eleventh hour on the eve of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote did the ranking member refer the allegations to the FBI and then, sadly, the allegations were leaked to the press,” he said.

“This is a shameful way to treat our witness who insisted on confidentiality,” he added, referring to Ford.

– Alexander Bolton

Grassley kicks off hearing with apologies to Ford, Kavanaugh

10:05 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) kicked off Thursday's hearing by apologizing to both Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford for the way they've been treated over the past few weeks.

“They and their families have received vile threats," he said. "What they have endured ought to be considered by all of us as unacceptable and a poor reflection on the state of civility in our Democracy."

Ford, who was flanked by her attorneys, looked nervously around the room before he started the hearing shortly after 10 a.m.

Grassley said he intended for today's hearing to be "safe, comfortable and dignified."

- Lydia Wheeler 

Feinstein lists Republican "mistakes" ahead of the hearing

10 a.m. 

Ten minutes before the hearing, the committee's ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) tweeted "Republicans didn’t learn from the mistakes of the Anita Hill hearing and are making new ones." 

"Blocking an FBI investigation, no outside witnesses, having a prosecutor cross examine Dr. Blasey Ford and scheduling a vote before her testimony are among their bad decisions," Feinstein tweeted.  

Senate Judiciary Democrats have been calling for FBI investigations into the three allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. 

Ford's lawyers have expressed concern that the outside counsel hired by Republicans will contribute to a circus-like atmosphere during the hearing.

– Emily Birnbaum

Gillibrand swings by hearing room

9:55 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Pentagon watchdog knocks top admiral for handling of sexual harassment case MORE (N.Y.) was spotted in the Judiciary Committee room ahead of the start of Thursday's hearing.

Gillibrand, a potential White House 2020 contender, isn't a member of the panel but was spotted chatting with advocates attending the hearing including actress Alyssa Milano.

Gillibrand is opposed to Kavanaugh's nomination and has urged Trump's nominee to withdraw his pick. Two of Gillibrand's potential competitors for the party's 2020 nomination — Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) — are members of the Judiciary Committee.

— Jordain Carney 

Senators to have limited time for questions

9:45 a.m.

Senators will get five minutes each to question Kavanaugh and Ford and do not expect to get an additional round of questioning, parameters that Ford’s legal team negotiated with Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) over the weekend.

“Five minutes is not a lot of time,” remarked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the committee as he headed to the hearing room. 

Some Democrats are hoping that Grassley will give them an additional round of questions but Durbin said he didn't think that is likely. 

Republicans are expected to give all or most of their time to the outside counsel they have brought in to question Kavanaugh and Ford. 

Rachel Mitchell, an attorney from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and head of the county’s special victims unit, will ask her own questions instead of receiving feeds from GOP lawmakers who may chime in from time to time. 

Democrats will ask their own questions and are not expected to yield any time to Mitchell. 

— Alexander Bolton

Alyssa Milano attends hearing

9:47 a.m.

Actress Alyssa Milano, who has become a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement, is attending Thursday's Senate hearing on the Supreme Court as a guest of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. 

Milano said she traveled from her home in Los Angeles to give support to Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

“I felt like I needed to be here to show solidarity and my support to Dr. Ford for this day that surely will be incredibly difficult for her,” she told reporters.

She said she vividly remembered Anita Hill’s testimony during Justice Clarence Thomas’s 1991 confirmation hearings.

She predicted the outcome of Kavanaugh’s hearing will be different.

“I think we’re in a different time. I think women are standing together in solidarity more so than we were in ’91. I think women throughout the country are not going to let it be what it was,” she said. 

— Alexander Bolton and Lydia Wheeler 

Protesters march outside office building ahead of Kavanaugh hearing

9:15 a.m. 

Dozens of protesters are marching on Capitol Hill ahead of the hearing.

Protesters were spotted marching past the Russell Senate Office building and the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Thursday's hearing will take place, chanting "we believe Christine Ford. We believe Anita Hill." 

There’s a heavy presence of Capitol Police on the second floor of Dirksen where Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Police are only admitting “authorized personnel” to the hallway outside the hearing room: reporters, staff and lawmakers.

Ford requested special security precautions during negotiations with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) over the weekend. A bomb-sniffing dog has patrolled the area as people walk from Union Station to the Senate office buildings. 

Some protesters were wearing buttons that read "I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford." On the other side of the Supreme Court fight, NBC News tweeted footage of women outside a Senate Office Building wearing "Women for Kavanaugh" shirts.  

 — Alex Bolton and Jordain Carney