Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testify on sex assault allegations

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Sophie Tatum and Paul P. Murphy, CNN

Updated 8:22 p.m. ET, September 27, 2018
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10:44 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Protesters are standing silent outside the hearing, clogging halls and elevators

From CNN's Paul Murphy

Emily Qualey says she, and nine others, drove over 500 miles to deliver a message to her senator, Susan Collins: Vote no on Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

She and many others are silently protesting in the halls--even elevators--outside the hearing room.

Protesters lining the halls are silent. Their mouths are taped shut with "Believe survivors" and "Believe women" inscribed on the tape.

Similar messages are written on their raised palms, "I believe...We believe."

10:45 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Ford tells senators: "I am terrified" but it's my "civic duty" to be here

Christine Blasey Ford just introduced herself at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, admitted she was "terrified," and told senators why she has chosen to be there: It's her "civic duty."

"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. "I have described the events publicly before. I summarized them in my letter to ranking member Feinstein, and again in a letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family."

She then explained how she met Brett Kavanaugh, "the boy who sexually assaulted me."

10:37 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Ford was just sworn in

Christine Blasey Ford was just sworn in for today's testimony.

Watch the moment:

10:33 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Hearing kicks off with a feisty exchange between committee members

Following opening remarks from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein made a jab at the Iowa Republican for not "properly" introducing Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser -- Christine Blasey Ford.

She then continued to read off Ford's resume, which includes multiple degrees of higher education.

Feinstein, during her remarks, spoke to Ford: "I am very grateful to you for your strength and your bravery in coming forward. I know it's hard," she said.

During his opening remarks, Grassley noted that Kavanaugh had been through six FBI background checks with no sexual assault allegations, and called his Democratic colleague's call for an FBI investigation into the accusations "obstruction."

He also criticized Feinstein for not immediately sharing Ford's claim when she initially received the letter detailing the allegation in July.

"Every step of the way, the Democratic side refused to participate in what should have been a bipartisan investigation," Grassley said.

10:30 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

What we've learned about Ford's work and education

Sen. Dianne Feinstein spent some of her opening statement introducing Christine Blasey Ford.

Here's what we have learned so far:

  • Ford has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • She has two master's degrees — one from Stanford and one from Pepperdine — and a doctorate from the University of Southern California.
  • She works as a professor and is affiliated with both Stanford University and Palo Alto University.
  • Ford has published more than 65 peer-reviewed articles.
  • She has two sons.
10:30 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Grassley hits Feinstein and calls for FBI probe in opening statement

From CNN's Greg Krieg

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, opened up by lashing out against the process that led to the hearing, taking shots at the ranking member, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and defended the lack of an FBI probe into Christine Blasey Ford's allegations.

"Some of my colleagues -- consistent with their stated desires to obstruct the Kavanaugh nomination by any means necessary -- pushed for an FBI investigation into the allegations," Grassley said.

"But I have no authority to force an Executive Branch agency to conduct an investigation into a matter it considers to be closed."

He also said the FBI was not in the business of making assessments of these kinds of allegations, suggesting Democrats' calls for a probe were disingenuous. He also quoted another former Judiciary Committee chair, former Vice President Joe Biden, who during the Anita Hill testimony nearly 27 years ago said, "the FBI explicitly does not in this or any other case reach a conclusion."

Democrats have argued that the FBI could help establish a baseline of facts for the senators on the committee.

10:17 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Chuck Grassley apologizes to Ford and Kavanaugh

From CNN's David Shortell

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley apologized to Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford for threats they’ve received in the lead up to today's hearing and said they were “a poor reflection on the state of civility in our democracy.”

“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,” he said, gaveling in the hearing. 

He continued: “I want to apologize to you both for the way you’ve been treated and I intend hopefully for today’s hearing to be safe, comfortable and dignified for both of our witnesses,” he said.

10:14 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Kavanaugh will watch Ford's testimony from Mike Pence's office

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

When he does arrive on Capitol Hill, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is planning to watch at least the first portion of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony from Vice President Mike Pence’s ceremonial office in the Senate side of the Capitol, a source familiar with the plan says.

As Ford’s legal team requested, and Judiciary Committee Republicans agreed to, he will never be in the same room as Ford. He will make his way to the committee room after she departs. 

10:06 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Ford arrives at Senate hearing. This is the first time we've seen her since the allegation.

Christine Blasey Ford has arrived at the hearing table.

She'll testify before Brett Kavanaugh.