Republican senator says Kavanaugh is entitled to the ‘presumption of innocence … absent corroborating evidence’
Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode Island, says he doesn’t believe Kavanaugh’s explanation of his own calendar.
He says the FBI has resources to more seriously investigate the contents of the calendar and what they show about Kavanaugh’s actions that night. He also says a serious investigation would not rely solely on comments as evidence.
A pattern is emerging among the Republican senators, who have repeatedly showed sympathy for Mark Judge’s issues with mental health.
Cornyn says calls to subpoena Mark Judge, a recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor, are cruel because Judge suffers from anxiety and depression. “That is cruel. That is reckless. That is indecent.”
John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, is up.
Cornyn says it is not fair to say Republicans are treating Dr Ford badly by pointing out the politicization of the confirmation process.
Graham is interacting with another protestor now and he is being very polite and attentive
Just came upon a truly remarkable scene: a group of women literally sitting on the concrete floor in a circle in the Hart Senate office building recounting their stories of being abused and raped. “I have literally told no one else this story before I talked to you all,” one says
It’s back to the Democrats, with Dick Durbin of Illinois backing Dr Ford.
As the two sides trade interpretations of the event, it might be useful to review the University of Michigan’s guide to sexual assault misconceptions. This guide provides evidence-based clarifications of sexual assault myths.
More from Graham: “I feel sorry for her [Dr Ford]. I do believe something happened to her. But I do not believe it was Brett Kavanaugh.”
He then repeats the alarming, and untrue, claim he made yesterday that it is not in the character of someone who people describe as nice to commit sexual assault. Kind behavior does not preclude someone from committing sexual assault.
Back to the Republicans.
South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham says he will speak despite people thinking a “single, white male” such as himself should “shut up.”
Graham is usefully transparent about the fact that this has very little to do with jurisprudence and much to do with Trump
Leahy expresses serious concerns about how the hearing could impact survivors of sexual assault.
“If victims think they will never be believed or won’t matter even if they are believed, why come forward at all?” Leahy says.
Republican senator Jeff Flake, one of the most prominent Trump critics in his party, was confronted by protestors earlier. The full video is here:
Women confront Sen. Jeff Flake after he says he'll vote yes to Kavanuagh: “That’s what you’re telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth you’re just going to help that man to power anyway.” pic.twitter.com/T7fSpyT69E
More from Leahy, who says this is not about delaying a nomination (though, he says, Republicans did do that under Obama).
Leahy asks why Kavanaugh is being held “to a lower standard than all the nominees before him.”
Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, is up and comparing the situation to Alice in Wonderland.
Leahy says the judiciary committee is no longer an independent branch of government.
Republican senator Orrin Hatch is now commending both sides of the aisle for taking the issue seriously.
Hatch touting the extent to which Kavanaugh has been investigated, saying he sat through 30 hours of testimony.
Grassley spoked extensively on the allegations made by women who were not Dr Ford.
He also falsely stated that comments made by three witnesses refuted Dr Ford’s description of the incident.
The three witnesses swore they had no recollection of the party, not that they were certain it did not happen. Just yesterday, Judge again told the committee that he doesn’t “recall” the incident. https://t.co/TAQMyStDq5 https://t.co/jpeMmsw4S2
Grassley now addresses Feinstein’s issues with how the request for an FBI investigation was handled.
“We can’t learn anything from the FBI we can’t learn ourselves,” Grassley says.
Women are standing in silent protest at the back of the Judiciary Committee room. They're now being led out by security. pic.twitter.com/TSC8S8VOLW
Feinstein continues, raising issues with the procedure.
“This was not about ensuring a fair process, this was about doing the bare minimum,” Feinstein says.
Outside the judiciary committee meeting:
The protest here is deafening in Dirksen pic.twitter.com/NDeou0iv23
More Democratic senators have walked out.
Dianne Feinstein, one of the remaining Democrats, is now being allowed to explain her disappointment with the result of the vote.
Democrats are walking out of the hearing as Grassley reads a statement about Kavanaugh.
“I found Dr Ford’s testimony credible and I believe she is sincere in her version of the facts,” Grassley says.
Feinstein, Leahy, Durbin, Klobuchar, Coons and Booker remain.
Chuck Grassley moves to have the committee vote on Kavanaugh at 1:30pm ET. He ignored protests from Democrats and did not debate the vote.
The majority voted in favor 11-8, with Democratic senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris declining to vote, citing unfairness.
Grassley is now reading a letter he says Mark Judge sent the committee last night.
“I’ve told the committee I do not want to comment about these events publicly,” Grassley said, quoting Judge’s letter.
The hearing is under way.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, asks for the vote to be postponed until the committee hears from more witnesses.
Protestors confronted Flake for about three to five minutes as he waited in a elevator to go to the hearing.
At least one of the protestors identified herself as a survivor of sexual assault.
The vote isn’t for another 15 minutes, but Arizona senator Jeff Flake, a Republican, confirmed he will vote for Kavanaugh in an emailed statement.
Flake was one of the few possible Republican defectors.
America Magazine, the only Catholic weekly magazine in North America, has withdrawn its previous endorsement of Kavanaugh.
“While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn,” the editors wrote.
If this were a question of establishing Judge Kavanaugh’s legal or moral responsibility for the assault described by Dr Blasey, then far more stringent standards of proof would apply. His presumption of innocence might settle the matter in his favor, absent further investigation and new evidence. But the question is not solely about Judge Kavanaugh’s responsibility, nor is it any longer primarily about his qualifications. Rather it is about the prudence of his nomination and potential confirmation. In addition to being a fight over policy issues, which it already was, his nomination has also become a referendum on how to address allegations of sexual assault.
The American Bar Association (ABA), which sets the legal standard for US law schools, has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to slow down the confirmation process after yesterday’s hearing.
Kavanaugh cited the ABA during his testimony yesterday, and told the committee: “For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the DC Circuit has praised my judicial temperament. That’s why I have the unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association.”
Richard Wolffe says that Kavanaugh’s credibility did not survive yesterday’s hearing, and that Republicans were left trying to calculate the political cost of the nomination:
What was larger? The number of votes they were losing among women versus the number of votes they would lose among Trump fanatics by putting this flatlining nomination out of its misery.
Jill Abramson has written about how yesterday’s proceedings reminded her of when she watched Anita Hill testifying about Clarence Thomas in 1991, and will trigger a similar backlash. She says:
In some ways, Thursday’s hearing was worse than Hill-Thomas. Although the Republicans were careful not to attack Dr Ford directly and hid behind the skirts of the so-called ‘female assistant’ they hired to do their questioning, they hurled the big lie at Dr Ford. They built a false case that Dr Ford was part of a Democratic conspiracy to bring down a conservative nominee. It was a shameful, baseless charge, almost as bad as when Republicans in 1991 tried to paint Hill as an erotomaniac who made up her charges. The truth is that Dr Ford came forward only reluctantly and with no partisan aim.
Republicans say they will push on with a confirmation vote in the coming days. They risk a tidal wave of backlash from voters, especially women, who know Dr Ford is the truth-teller. In 1991, residual anger over the way Hill was treated by the Senate judiciary committee helped elect a group of women to the senate who called themselves the Anita Hill class. The Christine Blasey Ford class will likely be much bigger.
“Women everywhere are listening to Christine Blasey Ford’s voice cracking and feeling their own hearts break, just a little bit more, at the world we’ve all inherited,” tweeted the New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel yesterday, as huge numbers of women in the US and worldwide watched the university professor give her testimony.
For many it bought back painful memories, and there were scenes around the US of women huddled around their phones to hear Ford speak. Many used social media to express how they felt as the hearing unfolded in Washington DC.
Republicans have said the Senate judiciary committee will vote on the supreme court nomination as scheduled, just a day after after the extraordinary Capitol Hill testimony. The committee is due to meet at 9:30am ET (2.30pm BST), and the vote is expected later. It isn’t clear whether Republicans will have enough support to carry the nomination forward to a full vote of the Senate next week.
Republicans are under pressure to get Kavanaugh in place before mid-term elections in November, when Democrats are hoping to take control of the Senate, which might allow them to halt the process.
In his response to the accusations, Kavanaugh was defiant and combative in front of the senators. He defended himself in a furious and emotional speech, saying the process had become a “national disgrace”.
Yesterday’s hearing focused first on testimony from Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who said of Trump’s pick for the supreme court: “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 yelling.”
She spoke about the long-term effects the incident has had on her life, including inducing “anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms”.
Good morning and welcome to our continuing live coverage of the crucial Senate judiciary committee hearing in Washington DC. After yesterday’s testimony from both US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and university professor Dr Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual assault, today we are expecting senators to hold a vote.
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!
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