Kavanaugh and Rosenstein: The nation watches Trump's split-screen crises
There have been few moments like the one descending on Washington, and it could have significant implications for the future of Donald Trump's presidency and beyond, writes political reporter Jonathan Allen in a news analysis ahead of the convergence of consequential events Thursday.
"The hearing we are about to witness is unprecedented in modern Senate history," said Ron Bonjean, a former aide to Sen. Trent Lott who led the communications effort for Justice Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Trump may be weighing the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian election meddling and Trump.
Good night. Thanks for sticking with us.
There were tears, shouting, partisan finger-pointing and a few moments of levity during the tense, all-day hearing that had the nation riveted. If you missed anything, scroll back through our live blog for key moments.
An angry, emotional Kavanaugh accused Democrats of 'search and destroy' tactics to destroy his nomination, and in the process, his life. And Ford, her voice breaking, described how "terrified" she was to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and testify to her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers and speak of the lasting trauma she experienced from that moment on.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Friday morning.
Analysis: Ford, Kavanaugh, and the difference in tone
One of the most striking aspects of the daylong hearing was the night and day contrast in the demeanor of the two witnesses.
Ford was calm, direct and willing to distinguish between what she could remember and what she couldn’t.
Kavanaugh was combative out of the gate, snippy at times — like when he asked Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar about her drinking habits before later apologizing — and unwilling to cede an inch on any topic. He was also evasive on certain questions, like whether he would ask for an FBI investigation, while Ford didn’t dodge questions.
There were no tense exchanges between Ford and senators because Republicans ceded all their time to a professional prosecutor hired to question her on their behalf. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, frequently sought to engage in verbal fights with his Democratic questioners, whom he accused of being part of a coordinated conspiracy against him.
Mitchell declines to answer questions about the hearing
NBC News just walked down the Dirksen hallway with the prosecutor Rachel Mitchell and an aide and tried to ask her several questions about today’s testimony — did she find Ford credible, if she was allowed to speak to reporters, if she was disappointed she didn't get to ask Kavanaugh more questions.
She didn’t respond to any of them.
Trump tweets. He liked Kavanaugh's combative performance.
It’s over, 8 hours and 45 minutes after it began.
Watch key moments from the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing
Kavanaugh: I didn't watch Ford testimony
Kavanaugh said in response to a question from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., that he didn't watch the earlier testimony of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
"I planned to but I was preparing mine," he said, speaking about his opening statement, which was rewritten after he had publicly released his prepared testimony on Thursday.
Booker to Kavanaugh: Do you wish Ford never came forward?
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., pressed Kavanaugh on whether he believes Ford is a political operative and asked him if he wished his accuser never came forward.
"The witnesses who were there said it never happened," Kavanaugh said about Ford's allegations. Kavanaugh testified earlier that he never attended a party like the one Ford described.
Booker then asked if he thinks Ford is part of a political ploy to sink his nomination. Kavanaugh then lamented how the Democrats handled Ford's allegations. He said he and his family have "no ill will toward her."
No sign of Mitchell. Republicans use their time to attack Democrats, defend Kavanaugh.
The last several Republicans on the committee — having decided to ask Kavanaugh their own questions, instead of yielding to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell — have largely directed their comments at their Democratic colleagues, attacking them over the timing of the public disclosure of the allegations against the nominee.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, used his allotted time to continue advancing the GOP attacks that Democrats had sat on the allegations, while Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., defended Kavanaugh.
"I think you have been treated unfairly," he said.
Moments earlier, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, implored Democrats to participate in committee investigations of witnesses other than Kavanaugh.
“If you have questions for Judge Kavanaugh, ask him, he’s right here,” Lee said. “If you have questions of other witnesses, then for the love of all that is scared and holy, participate in the committee investigations that have been going on, as you have not been participating with the committee staff investigating the outside witnesses.”
All GOP senators to meet tonight to discuss way forward
It’s going to be a late night here at the Capitol.
The hearing is still going, and we now learned that all Senate Republicans have been notified of a conference meeting at some point later tonight — the expectation at this time is that this will start an hour or two from now.
We should have a much better sense after that meeting about how this is going to proceed.
Additional reporting by Leigh Ann Caldwell
Trump pleased by Kavanaugh's testimony
At this hour: President Donald Trump stands behind Kavanaugh, according to a source familiar with his thinking — and Trump was particularly pleased by what he considered a strong opening statement by his Supreme Court nominee.
And despite some speculation that the president may have been turned off by Kavanaugh's outward display of emotion, Trump was unfazed by that — he thought Kavanaugh's reaction was appropriate, given the circumstances.
Additional reporting by Hallie Jackson and Kelly O’Donnell