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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9:52 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Why we'll see a different, perhaps angrier, Kavanaugh today

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

Expect to see a different Brett Kavanaugh than the robotic figure we saw on Fox News earlier in the week. A lot has changed since then.

“He’s incandescent” — in this case meaning extremely angry — one person involved in his prep said. And although we saw an early version of an opening statement, that is expected to change as Kavanaugh defends himself against attacks, some of which he has called coming from the “Twilight Zone.”

Kavanaugh spent one day this week sitting with White House Counsel Don McGahn and a small number of other advisors going through hearing prep. This is different from the preparations he went through — involving at times dozens of people — for his earlier confirmation hearing before Ford’s allegations came out.

For Kavanaugh, according to his supporters, it’s not as much about a Supreme Court seat now but defending his name. In regard to Ford’s allegations, he vehemently denies them. He says that perhaps she was sexually assaulted by someone in some place but it wasn’t him. But regarding other allegations — some anonymous — that have come into the committee since Ford came forward, he has called some of them “ridiculous” 

One came from a letter sent to Sen. Gardner alleging conduct in 1998. According to the letter a woman’s daughter was with friends when Kavanaugh shoved one of the girls “up against the wall very aggressively.” Kavanaugh told the committee: “We’re dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend. It’s ridiculous. Total twilight zone. And no I’ve never done anything like that.”

Democrats, on the other hand, and supporters of Christine Blasey Ford believe that Republicans on the committee are flooding the record with anonymous allegations only to diminish Ford’s allegations. They note that late last night the committee released, to the media, information suggesting committee staff met with a man who believes he, not Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Ford. A Democratic aide said they were blindsided by the release and weren’t informed beforehand. 

Ford’s legal team issued a statement saying that the committee failed to point out that they found the allegation not to be credible. “This last minute attempt that seeks to undermine Dr. Ford won’t work,” the spokesman said.

9:52 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

The line to attend the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Sunlen Serfaty

There will be only about 20 seats for members of the public in room 226, the small room in which the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing will take place.

Abby Cruz, reporter for the Montgomery County Sentinel, filmed the line of people that are queuing for those limited seats.

9:48 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

A quick look at the flurry of confusing developments last night

The night before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh were due to face off in Washington over a decades-old sex assault accusation, a flurry of confusing developments surfaced and seemed to only muddy the waters.

Here's a quick look at what we know about them:

Trump's news conference: President Trump held a rare, but typically long, news conference where he veered between saying he didn't believe the women to claiming he wanted to hear Ford out and was withholding judgement. He also admitted he was biased after years of being accused of assault himself.

RBG weighs in: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out on the #MeToo movement and said, "every woman of my vintage has not just one story but many stories, but we thought there’s nothing you can do about it, boys will be boys." Now, she says, "The more women that are out there doing things, the more women will be encouraged to do things, and we will all be better off for it, men, women, and children."

It wasn't him. It was us? Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday night his committee has talked to two men who each claim they were the ones who had the encounter with Ford, not Kavanaugh. Democrats were furious at the last-minute surprise,and Ford's legal team claimed the committee failed "to point out that they found this to be not credible."

More accusations unveiled: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was presented with two new allegations of misconduct yesterday, according to newly released Senate Judiciary Committee transcripts. Both victims are unnamed.

But one may have recanted: One man who alleged a close acquaintance was assaulted by a man he believed to be Kavanaugh may have tweeted that he recanted the accusation. That Twitter user's identity is unclear, however, and CNN hasn't received a response to an email to confirm it.

9:42 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

There are 21 senators on the panel that will hear Kavanaugh and his accuser. Only 4 are women.

These are the Republicans on the committee.
These are the Republicans on the committee.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

Eleven Republicans — who are all men — sit on the panel:

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina
  • Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas
  • Sen. Michael Lee, of Utah
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas
  • Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska
  • Sen. Jeff Flake, of Arizona
  • Sen. Mike Crapo, of Idaho
  • Sen. Thom Tillis, of North Carolina
  • Sen. John Kennedy, of Louisiana

Ten Democrats, four of whom are women, also sit on the panel:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of California
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy, of Vermont
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, of Ilinois
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota
  • Sen. Christopher Coons, of Delaware
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii
  • Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jeresey
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, of California

9:37 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

What Christine Blasey Ford will say in her opening statement

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford released the prepared testimony for Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

"I am here today not because I want to be. 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," Ford will say.

She will then detail the alleged attack, which happened at a party Ford says both Kavanaugh and Ford attended, along with another teen named Mark Judge.

Here's part of how she described it:

Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn't see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. 

You can read all of Ford's prepared remarks here.

9:32 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Chuck Grassley is hoping for "a fair hearing"

Walking into the hearing room, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Grassley was asked, “What are you hoping for today?”  

“A fair hearing for everyone," he said.
9:24 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Alyssa Milano is in the hearing room

From CNN's MJ Lee

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano is in the hearing room.

Milano, who appeared on "Who's the Boss?" and "Charmed," has said she believes Blasey Ford and called on senators to reject Kavanaugh's nomination.

Why we're talking about Milano: Last year, she helped popularize the #MeToo movement. And earlier this week, she added her voice to a related hashtag movement, #WhyIDidntReport, to explain why she did not report her sexual assault to police about 30 years ago.

"It took me years after my assault to voice the experience to my closest friends," Milano wrote in a first-person piece for Vox. "It took me three decades to tell my parents that the assault had even happened. I never filed a police report. I never told officials. I never tried to find justice for my pain because justice was never an option."

9:17 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

How Trump plans to watch today's hearing

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

The White House TiVos are set to capture today's historic hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

President Trump will be traveling from New York to Washington during the morning hours of the hearing, which will keep him from watching full gavel-to-gavel coverage of the proceedings. But an official says today that the full recording will be waiting for him when he returns to the White House. 

This, of course, is typical for a President who often records daily shows on Fox News and even CNN. He once told Time magazine that TiVo and other DVRs are "one of the great inventions of all time."

Today, the President can watch TV aboard Air Force One as he flies from New York's John F. Kennedy airport to Joint Base Andrews (that between 10:50 a.m. ET and 11:45 a.m. ET).

However, he will be unable to see the coverage aboard Marine One as he lifts from the Wall Street landing zone to JFK (10:25 a.m. ET to 10:40 a.m. ET) and later from Joint Base Andrews to the White House (11:55 a.m. ET to 12:05 a.m.) ET

The President said Wednesday that he'd be watching.

 "I'm going to be watching, you know, believe it or not," Trump told reporters Wednesday in New York. "I'm going to see what's said."

But will Trump tweet? A White House official said they did not believe the President would be tweeting during the hearing, but added that was far from certain.

"As everyone knows by now, he decides when to Tweet," the official said.

9:12 a.m. ET, September 27, 2018

Ford's friends will be at today's hearing (but her husband won't be)

From CNN's MJ Lee

Some friends of Ford’s friends, some of whom flew across the country to support her, will be in the room today, according to a source on Ford’s team.

They'll be sitting in some of the limited seats during her testimony. 

However, Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, is in California with their two children today, Ford’s team tells CNN. So he will not be present at the hearing.