Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a day of emotional questioning and high political drama that lasted nearly nine hours.
Ford told the committee she was 100 percent certain Kavanaugh was the man who sexually assaulted her as a teenager in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh repeatedly denied Ford’s sexual assault allegation and furiously attacked his confirmation process as a "national disgrace."
Republican senators on the committee attacked the Democratic members on the committee and accused them of sabotaging Kavanaugh's nomination.
Watch and read about the key moments of a historic day in U.S. politics.
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
Watch key moments from the Ford-Kavanaugh hearingSept. 27, 201803:53
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
Kavanaugh is asked about his drinking — again — and stumbles
Democrats have focused heavily on Kavanaugh’s drinking habits, with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., asking the nominee if he gets “aggressive” when he drinks alcohol.
Coons repeatedly referenced comments by Liz Swisher, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, who told The Washington Post in a story published earlier this week that Kavanaugh was a “sloppy drunk” who would “end up slurring his words, stumbling.” The article quotes other classmates of Kavanaugh at Yale who offered similar descriptions.
Kavanaugh stumbled in answering Coons’ question about being an “aggressive drunk,” at first replying, “Basically no. I don’t know what you mean by that."
"Like, what are you talking about? No, is the basic answer unless you’re asking about something I don’t know about," Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh apologizes to Klobuchar for his response to her question about drinking
Kavanaugh returned from a break and apologized to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., for the way he responded to one of her questions about whether he has ever blacked out from drinking.
Kavanaugh: "You're asking about black out, I don't know, have you? Klobuchar: "Could you answer the question, judge? So that has not happened, is that your answer?" Kavanaugh: "Yeah, and I'm curious if you have."
"I'm sorry I did that," he said.
Klobuchar accepted his apology. In asking her question, she disclosed her father's drinking problem and said alcohol abuse was a sensitive topic for her.
Rachel Mitchell is still in the hearing room
The last three Republican senators have asked their own questions, but prosecutor Rachel Mitchell is still in the hearing room.
She appears to be taking notes as she listens to the proceedings. It’s unclear if she will resume asking questions at any point.
Fact check: Who can ask for an FBI investigation?
"First of all, anybody could ask for an FBI investigation," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on Thursday afternoon amid back and forth about whether there should be an FBI investigation into claims of sexual assault by Kavanaugh.
As we've reported previously, that’s not true: The FBI can investigate Ford's claims, but only if the White House asks the bureau to do so. Neither the Senate nor any of the accusers have the authority to request the FBI's involvement.
Nicolle Wallace: Human carnage is what we're seeing here
Nicolle Wallace: Human carnage is what we're seeing hereSept. 27, 201802:17
Watch angry Graham issue a warning to his GOP colleagues
Watch angry Graham issue a warning to his GOP colleaguesSept. 27, 201804:22
Livid Graham slams Democrats, defends Kavanaugh
A livid Sen. Lindsey Graham came out guns blazing during his five minutes of questioning time, furiously ripping Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee for orchestrating a "sham" and telling Kavanaugh he had "nothing to apologize for."
Directing his anger at Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Graham said, "If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have (had one)."
“What you want to do is destroy this guy's life,” he fumed. "To hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020."
"Boy, y'all want power. God I hope you never get it," Graham shouted at Democrats.
Veteran Congress observers said they'd never seen a senator that angry.
Graham told Kavanaugh, "You have got nothing to apologize for.”
"Would you say you've have been through hell?" Graham asked Kavanaugh
"I'd say I’ve been through hell and then some," Kavanaugh replied.
Press Secretary Sanders applauds Graham's fury
After Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., delivered an impassioned, furious defense of Kavanaugh, angrily addressing his Democratic colleagues, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted from her official account in approval.
Graham "has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined. God bless him," she tweeted.
Kavanaugh says his calendars are accurate but his yearbook is a 'farce'
Kavanaugh says his calendars are accurate but his yearbook is a "farce."
During his opening statement and in responses to questioning, Kavanaugh detailed why he kept calendars — he learned to do so from his meticulous father — and said they are an important piece of evidence in showing that he didn't do what he is accused of.
But when it came to his high school yearbook, which made references to drinking, and included a note about being a "Renate Alumnius," which he said was a non-sexual reference but which he tearfully said he regretted anyway, Kavanaugh said it was in part "a farce."
"If we wanted to sit here and talk about whether a Supreme Court nomination should be based on a high school yearbook page, I think that is taking us to a new level of absurdity," he said.
Leahy and Kavanaugh have tense exchange over Mark Judge
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Kavanaugh had a tense exchange over whether Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh's who Ford alleged was in the room when she was assaulted, should be questioned by the FBI or called as a witness.
Kavanaugh grew angry when Leahy pushed him to answer why his friend wouldn’t testify before the committee.
"Would you want him to be here as a witness?" Leahy asked.
"He's already provided sworn testimony, this allegation has been hidden by the committee," Kavanaugh shot back.
When Kavanaugh raised his voice to point out that Judge gave a statement, actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano turned around and raised an eyebrow, then rolled her eyes at #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, as if to say, "He's not defending himself well."
As Leahy pressed Kavanaugh to answer whether he's the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” referred to one in Judge’s books, Kavanaugh then audibly raised his voice: "No no no no...I'm going to talk about my high school record if you're going to sit here and mock me."
Sens. John Cornyn and Lindsey Graham grew visibly frustrated at Leahy for peppering Kavanaugh, and Sen. Orrin Hatch demanded: “Let him answer!”
Kavanaugh did not answer yes or no to the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” line of questioning.
Dartunorro Clark contributed reporting
Leahy and Kavanaugh have tense exchange over Mark JudgeSept. 27, 201803:33
Hatch: I'm ready to vote Friday
Sen Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters during the last hearing break that he's ready to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination in committee on Friday.
"I don't see any reason to put this off," Hatch said. "I think he has acquitted himself very, very well. And I know him, I know what kind of a person he is, and frankly that type of a person came out here very, very well. And he's righteously incensed, and I don't blame him."
Don Jr.: 'I love Kavanaugh's tone'
Is this a sign of how President Donald Trump is feeling?
Kavanaugh declines to name a number of beers that constitute 'too much'
Kavanaugh says he drank too much sometimes when he was in high school.
But, under examination from Republican staff lawyer Rachel Mitchell before the break, he declined to name a number of beers that constitute "too much." He eventually landed on "the chart" for blood-alcohol content, which would be two, maybe three, beers given his size at the time.
Asked whether he'd ever passed out, Kavanaugh said he had not.
"Passed out, no? I've gone to sleep," he said.
Kavanaugh requests a break
We're on a 15 minute break.
How did senators react to his defiant opening remarks?
After Kavanaugh finished his testimony, GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz seemed to let out a breath.
The face Tillis made was akin to, "Wow, this is really a conundrum."
Throughout Kavanaugh's opening statement, Cornyn continued to tear up. Graham did too, but not as much as Cornyn.
Democrats sat still and listened intently.
Kavanaugh rejects 'Renate Alumnius' yearbook story
Kavanaugh rebutted media reports about his high school yearbook, in which he and other classmates were described as “Renate Alumnius”
“The media … interpreted that it was related to sex," an outraged Kavanagh said.
Kavanaugh was referring to an article in The New York Times published this week that noted that several people in his graduating class, including Kavanaugh, were described as a “Renate Alumnius.” The Times reported that the phrase was a reference to Renate Schroeder — a student at a girls' Catholic school — that two of Kavanaugh’s classmates said amounted to unsubstantiated bragging about alleged sexual conquests.
“As the woman noted herself on the record, she and I never had any sexual relationship at all,” he said.
He said, "As high school students, we sometimes did goofy or stupid things," and that "our yearbook was a disaster."
Renate Schroeder Dolphin was one of 64 women who signed a letter this month to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Kavanaugh's treatment of women. She signed the letter before The Times published its report, and told the paper that the "insinuation" of the yearbook comments was "horrible."
“I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue," she told The Times. "I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”
CNBC: Decrease in trading volume during Kavanaugh's hearing
Omarosa tweets, wondering how Trump is reacting to Kavanaugh's display of emotion
Fact check: Kavanaugh says he 'welcomed' an investigation into Ford's allegation
“When this allegation first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation. Senate, FBI or otherwise. The committee has now conducted a thorough investigation, and I cooperated fully. I know that any investigation … will clear me,” Kavanaugh said in his opening remarks.
Kavanaugh did not publicly welcome an investigation in two public statements denying the allegations and an in-depth interview with Fox News. It is unclear if he did so privately.
Asked by Fox News if he believed there should be an FBI investigation into the charges, Kavanaugh said that he wanted to defend himself.
“I’ve said all along and Ashley, too, I want to be heard," he said, referring to his wife. "I want an opportunity — a fair process. America’s about fairness, I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name as quickly as I can in whatever forum the Senate deems appropriate.”
Kavanaugh: 'I liked beer, I still like beer'
Kavanaugh talked at length about his drinking habits as a teen while growing up in suburban Maryland. Remember, Ford accused him of being drunk when she arrived at the party at which she said she was allegedly assaulted.
"My friends and I sometimes got together and had parties on the weekends, the drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my times in high school and was 18 in D.C. for all of my time in high school," he said. "I drank beer with my friends, almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers, sometimes others did."
He added: "I liked beer, I still like beer, but I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out and I never sexually assaulted anyone."
Kavanaugh: 'I liked beer, I still like beer'Sept. 27, 201800:47
Ford is not watching Kavanaugh
According to a spokeswoman for Ford, she is not watching Kavanaugh's testimony, which is still ongoing.
Kavanaugh furiously denied the allegation she made against him, as well as the details she provided in her own testimony earlier Thursday.
Kavanaugh is talking about his 1982 calendars. See them here.
Kavanaugh's lawyers submitted his calendars from the summer of 1982 to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of their defense against Ford’s accusation.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly referred to these calendars to refute Ford's testimony. He told senators on Thursday that the calendars functioned more like a diary.
Analysis: Kavanaugh becomes emotional
The warm Brett Kavanaugh who appeared in a Fox News interview to defend himself on Monday is gone.A defiant and outraged Kavanaugh — who became emotional — began his opening statement to senators Thursday by trashing Democrats and calling the process a "national disgrace."
His strategy seems clear: Turn the fight into even more of a partisan bloodbath, hoping to keep Republicans, and their supporters, on his side.
He said "my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed" by the delay between Ford's allegation and this hearing and subsequent claims.
"Crazy stuff. Gangs. Illegitimate children. Fights on boats in Rhode Island. All nonsense, reported breathlessly and often uncritically by the media," he said.
He said it is about re-litigating the 2016 election and the Clintons getting even with him for his role in Kenneth Starr's independent counsel probe of President Bill Clinton. The nominee said he has been the victim of "grotesque and coordinated character assassination."
Choking back tears, Kavanaugh rejects accusations, slams confirmation process
A visibly upset Brett Kavanaugh delivered a defiant opening statement in which he said allegations made against him have "permanently destroyed" his family and his name.
He also charged that his confirmation process had “become a national disgrace.”
“You have replaced advise and consent with search and destroy,” Kavanaugh, his face twisted with emotion at times, said, referring to the Senate’s role in overseeing a confirmation process of a Supreme Court nominee.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” he said, calling accusations made against him a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” that resulted from “pent up anger” resulting from the results of the 2016 election.
He said the movement against him was the product of a “frenzy on the left” and cited “revenge” from people who had supported “the Clintons.”
At another point, Kavanaugh, struggling to hold back tears, explained how the ordeal had affected his family, especially his 10-year-old daughter Liza.
Kavanaugh is radiating anger
Inside the hearing room, it sounds as if Kavanaugh is nearly shouting. He is defiant not only in his words, but his tone, as he rejects the allegations against him.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, meanwhile, is paying much more attention now that Kavanaugh is speaking. He is nodding at certain points at Kavanaugh's statement, including when he said this seemed all orchestrated by the Democrats.
When Kavanaugh said that the consequences of what is happening will last long past his nomination, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., smirked slightly and looked away, almost as if he were agreeing with that statement.
Kavanaugh arrives to testify on assault allegations
As Kavanaugh entered the hearing room, his face was stern — a change from his smiley appearance during his previous meetings on Capitol Hill.
The judge's parents are in attendance, sitting in the first row behind him. Ford's attorneys are sitting right behind the two rows reserved for Kavanaugh.
As he began his opening testimony — a new statement, different from his prepared remarks released yesterday — he was visibly angry, saying, "My family and my name have been totally destroyed." He bashed the Democratic senators, and said the woman who have accused him of sexual misconduct were engaged in a "grotesque and coordinated" smear campaign.
Leigh Ann Caldwell and Frank Thorp contributed reporting
Report: Anti-Kavanaugh protesters blocking streets, arrests being made
Who is Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor who questioned Ford?
The woman chosen by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser was in an unusual position when she came face to face with Ford on Thursday — a fact she herself mentioned at the close of Ford's testimony.
But who is Rachel Mitchell? She has served as a prosecutor since 1993 and is deputy county attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix and the division chief of the Special Victims Division, which comprises sex-crimes and family-violence bureaus. She is currently on leave from her positions.
Stay tuned: Kavanaugh testimony coming up
Ford has finished testifying. Kavanaugh will be coming up, delivering his opening statement and answering questions from senators.
Sen. Harris lists the witnesses who could've been questioned by the FBI, but weren't
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., laid out the witnesses who could have been questioned about the alleged assault if the FBI was involved.
"This morning it was said that this could have been investigated confidently back in July," Harris said. "This also could have been investigated in the last 11 days since you came forward. The FBI could have interviewed Mark Judge, Patrick Smith, Leland Keyser, you and Judge Kavanaugh on these issues."
Preet Bharara on Mitchell's final questions
Ford's lawyers say they are representing her pro bono
Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys told the committee Thursday that they are representing her on a pro bono basis.
During questions from Mitchell about who was paying for Ford’s legal representation, one of Ford’s lawyers, Michael Bromwich, said, "Both her counsel are doing this pro bono."
"We are not being paid," he said. "And we have no expectations of being paid."
Graham to woman who says she was raped: 'I'm sorry, you needed to go to the cops'
NBC News' Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt witnessed the hallway exchange between a woman and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in which she told him that she was raped.
"I'm so sorry ... I'm sorry, you needed to go to the cops," he responded.
Trump hasn't spoken to Kavanaugh — and didn't answer questions from reporters
President Donald Trump has not spoken to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh today, White House spokesman Raj Shah tells NBC News, clarifying earlier reports.
Trump had said Wednesday that he would be watching the hearings and could be "persuaded," leaving open the possibility that he might withdraw the nomination depending on the testimony. He was in transit between New York and Washington during much of the first couple of hours of the hearing.
Neither he nor White House Chief of Staff John Kelly did not respond to a shouted question when they returned to the White House around midday. "Is she credible?" NBC's Kristen Welker asked.
Hirono criticizes Mitchell: 'I think I know what she’s trying to get at'
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii., used her five minutes to criticize Rachel Mitchell and her line of questioning, telling Ford and her own Republican colleagues, “I think I know what she’s trying to get at.”
“So I’ll just ask you very plainly, is there a political motivation in your coming forward,” she asked Ford, who replied, “no.”
Hirono said Mitchell’s intent was to “undermine” Ford’s credibility, and compared her questioning to something one might see “in a cross-examination of a witness in a criminal trial,” not at a confirmation hearing.
Ford's lawyers push back at Mitchell on polygraph questions
Who paid for the polygraph?
After the break, Mitchell, on behalf of GOP senators, asked questions about Ford's financial arrangements, including multiple queries about who paid for the polygraph examination she submitted.
One of Ford's lawyers, Debra Katz, immediately chimed in: "Let me put an end to this mystery. Her lawyers paid for this polygraph."
Her other attorney, Michael Bromwich, grabbed the mic.
"As is routine," he said.
"As is routine," Katz repeated.
Ford then said she is not sure if she would eventually reimburse the cost.
3 GOP governors call for delay in Kavanaugh vote
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted: “The accusations brought against Judge Kavanaugh are sickening and deserve an independent investigation. There should be no vote in the Senate.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan: “The governor believes there should be a full investigation before the process moves forward,” said communications director Scott Sloofman said in an email to NBC News.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted: "Given the questions and allegations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination – and the higher standards demanded for a lifetime appointment – the United States Senate should not rush to confirm him. In the absence of a complete and thorough investigation, and hearing from all parties involved, moving this nomination forward would be a mistake. In the best interest of our country and the integrity of the court, the Senate needs to hold on this confirmation. Without an investigation, and with so many serious issues involved, I can’t support this nomination if they choose to move forward."
Watch senators talk about Ford's testimony
Watch senators talk about Ford's testimonySept. 27, 201806:52
Graham: This is just emotion without ‘corroboration’
"I really don’t know any more other than she can’t remember how she got there or how she left," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, reacting to Ford's testimony and referring to the party at which Ford says she was attacked by Kavanaugh.
“That’s important to me. He says he didn’t do it. I’m looking for corroboration. It’s not an emotional decision.”
He added: “It’s a factual decision. … Unless something new comes forward, you just have an emotional accusation and an emotional denial without corroboration.”
Analysis: Pressure mounts on Kavanaugh
This hearing is not going well for Brett Kavanaugh.
He’ll still have an opportunity to defend himself, but Ford has come off as credible and as composed as possible under the circumstances.
And that’s according to Republicans.
One GOP donor told NBC News in a text message that he still wants Kavanaugh on the bench but is more concerned about the viability of the nomination now than he was a few hours ago.
“She seems pretty damn credible and appealing,” the donor said. “I would like to see them push forward, but this is going to be ultra-hard to rebut. And Kavanaugh has to not perjure himself."
GOP senators react to Ford's testimony
Some Republican senators said they wanted to hear more from her, and others called it compelling. At least one admitted she wasn't watching.
Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.V.: “It was extremely compelling and emotional, obviously. Anyone who is watching has to feel the same way."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "I want to hear her out. I don’t know any more than I knew before...I think something happened to Dr. Ford. I’m going to listen to Brett Kavanaugh, who adamantly denies it."
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa: "I am in meetings all day so I'm not watching TV."
What's Mitchell's point?
Rachel Mitchell, the attorney speaking on behalf of Senate Republicans, appears to be a lot more interested in how and why Ford came forward than in whether she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh.
In a legal case, undermining the credibility of the accuser might be paramount. But this isn't a legal case. The central issue is only whether or not Kavanaugh is fit for the Supreme Court. It's confusing.
As senators were leaving for the lunch break, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., sat for a bit with Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Sasse took a drink of water, then walked down to the witness table and shook Ford’s hand.
He appeared to say something to her and then he walked out.
Hearing interest leads to postponement of Trump-Rosenstein meeting
The White House has postponed a highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which was initially scheduled for today, to avoid interfering with the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing.
"The President spoke with Rod Rosenstein a few minutes ago and they plan to meet next week. They do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday.
Ashen-faced lawmakers file out
As the hearing broke for lunch, most senators leaving had no comment.
Several appeared ashen-faced.
Sen. Orrin Hatch: Ford is a 'good witness'
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC News moments after Thursday's hearing broke for lunch that he felt Ford was a "good witness."
“It’s too early to make those kinds of determinations, but she’s a good witness. Articulate," Hatch said after being asked whether he saw Ford as "credible."
"She’s an attractive person. But I think it’s a little early to make those kinds of determinations," he added.
Hatch said he would not second-guess Mitchell's line of questioning of Ford.
We're on a 30 minute break
Here's a moment from earlier, in which Ford delivered her opening statement and vividly recounted details of her alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh.
We're on a 30 minute breakSept. 27, 201804:19
Blumenthal delivers tribute to Ford's 'courage'
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., used nearly all of his five minutes to deliver a tribute to Ford’s "courage" for having testified, calling it a "teaching moment for America."
“You have inspired women,” Blumenthal said. "You have inspired and enlightened men."
His comments appeared to move Ford to tears at one point.
Earlier in the hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also praised Ford for her courage in deciding to testify.
Blumenthal, however, also spent a moment lighting into his Republican colleagues, saying that "the senators on the other side of the aisle have been silent."
"This procedure is unprecedented in a confirmation hearing," he said.
Donald Trump Jr. weighs in: 'I'm no psychology professor but...'
"I’m no psychology professor but it does seem weird to me that someone could have a selective fear of flying," Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted, responding to a line of questioning from Mitchell. "Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all."
Screens everywhere are tuned to Ford hearing
They're watching on airplanes.
They're watching on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
They're watching in bars.
They're watching at colleges.
Mitchell's line of questioning, so far
Rachel Mitchell, the lawyer for Senate Republicans, has asked Ford repeatedly whether anyone helped her write her original letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Ford has consistently answered "no."
It is not the only time that Mitchell has appeared to see if she can get Ford to give contradictory testimony. So far, she has failed to do that. In a couple of instances, there have been inconsistencies between what has been reported previously and what Ford is saying now.
For example, there was disagreement over whether Ford had rejected a Republican offer to send investigators to interview Ford in California.
Ford said that she did not understand the offer as it was described in the hearing today and would have been happy to talk with investigators, adding that she would have invited them into her home.
Ford's attorney objects to one of Mitchell's questions
Ford's attorney objected to Mitchell asking a question about whether Ford spoke with her lawyer or anyone else about GOP committee members or staffers coming to California to talk to her about her allegations.
Mitchell: "Was it communicated to you by your counsel or someone else that the committee had asked to interview you and that they had offered to come out to California to do so?"
Ford's attorney: "We’re going to object to any privileged conversations between counsel and Dr. Ford."
After crosstalk, Ford directly tells Grassley: "I just appreciate that you did offer that, I wasn't clear on what the offer was, if you were going to come out to see me and I would have happily hosted you and been happy to speak with you out there. It wasn't clear to me that was the case."
NYT removes poll asking about Ford's credibility
The New York Times removed a Twitter poll from its NYT Opinion account in which it asked people to vote on whether they found Ford's testimony credible.
"We're sorry for this tweet. In retrospect, a Twitter poll is insensitive in light of the gravity of this hearing. We've deleted it," the NYT Opinion Twitter account stated, including a screenshot of the poll.
The account added in a subsequent tweet that they recognized asking only about Ford's credibility was "inappropriate" and said they had intended to publish a similar poll about Kavanaugh's credibility during his testimony.
Gillibrand: How could anyone vote for Kavanaugh now?
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, an advocate for sex assault survivors, said that she doesn’t know how anyone could vote for Kavanaugh after hearing Ford’s testimony.
"I don't know how anyone watching this testimony could possibly vote for Brett Kavanaugh after what she said," Gillibrand told reporters. "Not only her honesty, her integrity, her truth, it’s obvious. And I just don’t know how any Republicans could vote for Brett Kavanaugh after hearing her."
Is Mitchell suggesting that Ford isn't really afraid of flying? Twitter wants to know
Mitchell asks questions about Ford's fear of flying
Mitchell went down a seemingly odd path moments ago, spending the entirety of one five-minute session interrogating Ford about her fear of flying.
After a peppering of questions, Ford acknowledged that she would have preferred to be interviewed in California, where she lives, because she is afraid of flying. But after concluding that such a preference was an “unreasonable request,” she agreed to fly to Washington, D.C., for today’s hearing.
Mitchell then asked Ford about a handful of other instances where she would have gotten on a plane, including for trips to Costa Rica and French Polynesia.
Time then ran out, with it not being at all clear where Mitchell was attempting to lead the conversation about flying.
A reporter for The Washington Post noted that Sen. Kamala Harris gave Mitchell a "very skeptical look."
Grassley defends his actions after Whitehouse trashes the process
Chairman Grassley gave an impassioned defense of the process of probing Ford's allegations after Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a former prosecutor, trashed how the Republicans investigated the assault claim.
Grassley also accused Democrats of not fully participating.
"We gotta realize 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," he said.
"We're responding to Dr. Ford's request to tell her story, this is why we're here."
Report: Several female lawmakers not on the Judiciary Committee are in the room
Key takeaways from first round of Ford questioning
So far, Ford's testimony is heart-wrenching, harrowing and made more credible by her ability to describe how trauma affects the brain.
Rachel Mitchell, the lawyer for the Republicans, has stuck to fact-finding questions rather than acting as a prosecutor. If she has a bombshell in her pocket, it's still there waiting.
The senators, meanwhile, have engaged in a fair amount of partisan sniping over process, which makes the GOP decision to have Mitchell ask questions look far wiser than it did just a few hours ago.
Pence spoke with Kavanaugh
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump has not spoken with Kavanaugh today, but Vice President Mike Pence did.
Pence talked to Kavanaugh ahead of today’s hearing to reiterate his support for the Supreme Court nominee.
The hearing is on a brief break. Meanwhile...
Chris Wallace on Fox News calls Ford's account 'extremely credible'
Fox News has had wall-to-wall coverage of Ford's testimony, featuring a panel of hosts and contributors.
During the first break, Chris Wallace, anchor of "Fox News Sunday," called Ford's reading of her prepared statement "extremely emotional, extremely raw and extremely credible."
Martha MacCallum, anchor of FNC's "The Story," said she felt that Republicans cannot feel that the hearing has gone well for them, noting that the format of having a lawyer ask questions in between questions from Democratic senators did not seem to be working.
"You have to believe that the Republican senators right now are asking themselves whether this was a good idea," MacCallum said.
Grassley, Harris get in brief dust-up over map
Chairman Grassley and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., seemed to bicker over a map that Rachel Mitchell had provided to Ford.
After Mitchell asked Ford to refer to a map of the neighborhood where Ford was living at the time she was in high school — her parents' house — Harris interrupted Mitchell’s questioning to ask Grassley if all members of the committee would have access to the map.
But Grassley, apparently mishearing comments from his chief counsel Mike Davis, responded by saying he’d been advised to not provide them, before quickly correcting himself after he realized he misheard Davis.
Grassley responded in the microphone, asking that people "speak plainly" to him. Harris thought he was talking to her, but Grassley said he was talking to his staff.
Mitchell then said that a large, blown-up version of the map would be put on display for the committee.
Committee staff are also now passing out the map that they asked Ford to reference.
Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed reporting
Ford: 100 percent sure Kavanaugh assaulted me
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin called into question conspiracy theories that Ford confused Kavanaugh and Judge with two other men.
Durbin asks Ford point-blank: "Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?"
Ford: "100 percent."
Watch: 'Unforgettable memory' of alleged assault is laughter from Kavanaugh, Judge
Ford's ability to connect her personal trauma to the neuroscience of trauma is striking.
Most witnesses would be able to describe either a trauma or explain brain science, not both.
But Ford's academic study, driven by her experience, is in research psychology, and she designs statistical models to explain human behavior. This part of her testimony adds the credibility of an expert witness to that of a primary witness to the incident she detailed.
Ford: Here's why Kavanaugh's alleged attack is seared into my memory
Ford taps into her psychology background to explain why she's so sure it was Kavanaugh that attacked her.
Feinstein asked, "How are you so sure that it was he?"
Ford: "The way that I'm sure I'm talking to you right now, it's just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so that trauma-related experience is locked there so other memories just drift."
Ari Melber: Mitchell 'methodically attempting to build battery of alleged errors'
The five-minute time limit seems to catch people off guard
People were caught off guard when Grassley interrupted prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during her questioning of Ford.
Mitchell is representing all the Republican senators during the witness questioning, so she will perform an odd pingpong of five-minute questioning increments with Ford.
Mitchell's instructions to Ford
The preliminary instructions from Rachel Mitchell, an outside prosecutor who is questioning Ford on behalf of the GOP committee members, are similar to the instructions given to a witness before a deposition (e.g., “don’t guess, but you can estimate”).
Danny Cevallos is an MSNBC and NBC News legal analyst
Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to Ford: 'I'm very sorry'
Rachel Mitchell, an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, whom Republicans hired to serve as nomination investigation counsel and ask questions on their behalf, opens her questioning of Ford with a conciliatory tone.
Mitchell referred to Ford’s remark that she had felt “terrified” during the alleged attack, and then said, “I just wanted to let you know, I’m very sorry.”
“That’s not right,” Mitchell said.
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney moved to tears during Ford's testimony
GOP tweets out #IstandWithBrett during Ford statement
Right in the middle of Christine Blasey Ford’s opening remarks describing her accusations, the Republican National Committee’s official twitter account released a video with a testimonial for Brett Kavanaugh from one of his former law clerks — under the hashtag "#IstandWithBrett."
Ford thanks Feinstein for keeping her allegation anonymous
Despite the criticism from Republican senators, Ford thanked Feinstein for keeping her identity anonymous in the letter she sent about her allegations.
"In a letter dated August 31 Senator Feinstein wrote that she would not share the letter without my explicit consent and I appreciated this commitment," she says. "Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves when and whether their private experience is made public."
Ford's testimony rivets Twitter
Christine Blasey Ford's testimony has riveted Twitter.
As Ford read her opening statement, Twitter communications manager Nick Pacilio tweeted that all 10 of the top trends were about the hearing.
Among the trending terms: #KavanaughHearings, Grassley, Dr. Ford, Feinstein, Brett and Mark, and #KavanaughFord.
Reaction to Ford's testimony: Gut wrenching, gutting
GOP Senator Graham looks annoyed
GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse are listening intently and looked pained at the opening statement of Christine Blasey Ford.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the other hand, looks annoyed. He is looking around often and moving quite often. Sen. John Cornyn is also squirming and leaning back and looking around.
Democratic senators are watching her opening statement intensely.
Ford's testimony is harrowing. Should Democratic senators get out of the way?
Ford's harrowing testimony about the alleged attack has been so compelling that Democratic senators could risk diluting the power of her story with anything they say at this hearing.
What could possibly be more compelling than Ford's own words?
"I was pushed onto the bed, then Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body. … His weight was heavy… Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was very inebriated. ... I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth. … (I thought) Brett was accidentally going to kill me. (Kavanaugh and Judge were laughing) ... They seemed to be having a very good time."
It makes no sense at all for Democrats to speak, other than to intervene on her behalf if the Republican questioning gets too aggressive.
Pence cancels appearance at economic summit to focus on hearing
A senior administration official told NBC News that Vice President Mike Pence — who had been scheduled to give a speech at a White House economic summit Thursday afternoon — will no longer appear at the gathering, so he can focus on the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing.
"He's not going to do anything public today that would distract from the hearings," the official told NBC News.
Everyone’s watching at the White House
Not surprisingly the hearing is on in every TV room here at the White House and all eyes are glued to it. The most senior communications officials here right now are Hogan Gidley and Mercedes Schlapp. Sarah Sanders and Bill Shine are traveling with the president from New York back to D.C.
Trump is still scheduled to arrive back at the WH at 12:05 p.m. and seems to be running on time.Will he meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein? White House officials have not said.
Rosenstein was just spotted entering the White House for a previously scheduled meeting of Cabinet deputies.
Kristen Welker contributed reporting
Ford's voice breaks as she emotionally describes alleged assault
Christine Blasey Ford's voice broke repeatedly as she began her testimony, seeming on the verge of tears as she worked her way through her statement.
She told the committee she was "terrified" to be there today.
"I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to," Ford said, her voice cracking. "But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult."
Feinstein: This is not a trial, it's a job interview
Feinstein rebuked her Republican colleagues for how they've handled the allegations against Kavanaugh, telling them it's not a courtroom, but a job interview.
"The entire country is watching how we handle these allegations...We are here for one reason: to determine whether Judge Kavanaugh should be elevated to one of the most powerful positions in our country," Feinstein says.
"This is not a trial of Dr. Ford, it's a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh. "
Feinstein explains the delay
Dianne Feinstein has come under heavy criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress for waiting until just before the planned committee vote on Kavanaugh to forward Ford's allegation to the FBI.
Feinstein explained her actions during her opening statement this way: "She wanted this held confidential, and I held it confidential up to a point the witness was willing to come forward...How women are treated in the U.S. with this kind of concern is really wanting a lot of reform."
Byers: None of this feels impartial
The approach of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Diane Feinstein, as well as the responses on social media, are a reminder that a majority of Republicans and Democrats have already made up their minds about who is telling the truth and who is not.
None of this feels impartial.
See this NPR/PBS poll.
What's the deal with Georgetown Prep?
There will be a lot of talk about the culture at Georgetown Prep, the Jesuit school that graduated Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and a long line of government, business and sports luminaries, from former Rep. John Dingell and former Sen. Chris Dodd to Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Prep, located in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside D.C., has assiduously defended its reputation as a sanctuary of learning and service in recent days.
But it’s had some scandals, like the “butting” ritual described in the Washington Post in 1991.
Second GOP governor opposes planned Senate vote
Another Republican governor has come out in opposition to a planned Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
"The accusations brought against Judge Kavanaugh are sickening and deserve an independent investigation," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted shortly after the hearing began. "There should be no vote in the Senate."
Baker, who enjoys one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country, is up for re-election this cycle but is expected to skate to an easy victory in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.
Baker joins outgoing Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, who said in a statement this week that a delay in the vote would be "in the best interest of our country and the integrity of the court."
Feinstein introduces Ford, reminding the audience of her multiple degrees
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to take issue with the fact that Grassley did not formally introduce Ford to the committee in his remarks — so she did it herself.
Grassley cut in, claiming that he “would do that” before Ford was “about to speak” and deliver her own opening statement.
Grassley: People who want an FBI investigation don't know anything
Grassley says in his opening statement that he can't force the FBI to open an investigation into a matter it considers closed, and the Senate could do its own probe.
"Contrary to what the public believes, the FBI doesn't perform any credibility assessments or verify the truths of any events in these background investigations," he says.
Summing up Grassley's opening remarks
Who's sitting behind Ford today?
Ford takes her seat, and Grassley begins with a lament
After Ford took her seat, Chairman Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, opened the hearing with a complaint about the timing.
"I intend today's hearing to be safe, comfortable, and dignified for both witnesses," he said. But, he adds, "I lament how this hearing has come about."
As Grassley spoke, Ford at first looked straight ahead, and then, down at papers in front of her. She exchanged a few comments with her lawyers, seated around her.
Ford was largely expressionless as Grassley continued his statement, but nodded when Grassley said, "Sadly, the allegations were leaked to the press."
Ford has 15 friends in the audience — Alyssa Milano is there, too
Ford has at least 15 friends in the two rows behind her, and actress Alyssa Milano, a #MeToo advocate, is in the hearing room.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both of New York, are in the audience, dressed in the symbolic all black.
At least one student from Ford’s high school, Holton-Arms in Bethesda, Maryland, is also in attendance.
Frank Thorp contributed reporting
Majority of Americans say Ford allegation disqualifying if true but partisan split remains
Today's hearing is not only about who appears more credible during their testimony, but also whether or not Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh — if proven to be true — should disqualify him to be on the Supreme Court.
About six-in-10 Americans — 59 percent — polled earlier this week by NPR/Marist said if the allegation is true, Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. Just 29 percent said that he should be confirmed even if the charge of sexual assault is accurate.
But there’s a huge partisan divide, with about half of Republicans — 54 percent — saying Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the accusation is true, while 32 percent disagree.
That could show some willingness among Republicans to be swayed by the proceedings. Overall, the same poll finds that 83 percent of Republicans support his nomination generally, while just 5 percent oppose it.
Among Democrats, 79 percent believe he should not be confirmed to the court if the allegations are true. That’s similar to the 77 percent who oppose his nomination generally.
And among independents, 31 percent say he should be confirmed even if the allegations are true, while 57 percent disagree.
Overall, 42 percent of independents support his confirmation overall, while 41 percent oppose it.
In this case, partisan identity appears to be a more powerful determinant of views on the consequences for allegations of assault than gender.
Report: Trump and Pence both called Kavanaugh to voice support
Here's what Kavanaugh and Ford will say in their opening statements
The Senate Judiciary Committee released the text of the prepared opening statements of both Ford and Kavanaugh on Wednesday.
Read Ford's opening statement here.
Read Kavanaugh's opening statement here.
The scene outside the Dirksen Senate building right now
Ford has arrived on Capitol Hill
A representative for Ford just told the assembled press that she has arrived here in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where the hearing is taking place.
She’s in a hold room somewhere, but we won’t see her before she goes into the hearing room.
Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was seen checking out the hearing room.
On Capitol Hill, protesters show support for Ford
Inside the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing room
This is what it currently looks like inside the hearing room at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where in less than one hour, Ford and Kavanaugh will testify.
The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Ford's husband will not attend hearing
A spokesperson for Christine Blasey Ford tells NBC News that her husband, Russell Ford, will not be at the hearing today. He is back in California with their children.
Ford will be seated at the witness table alongside her lawyers, Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich.
Where will Ford and Kavanaugh watch each other's testimony?
A Capitol Police captain tells me that a room has been assigned to Brett Kavanaugh at the Dirksen Senate Building, where he and his team will be able to watch Christine Blasey Ford's testimony this morning.
The captain also tells me a room in Dirksen has been assigned to Ford; however, it’s not clear whether she will remain in the building to watch Kavanaugh after her testimony.
Capital Hill police tell us we will see Kavanaugh march past stakeout cameras before testifying, but we’re told we will not see Ford.
Ford and Kavanaugh will never be in the room together at the same time — which was one of Ford’s conditions before agreeing to testify.
Press secretary on allegations: 'I don't question the story, but I certainly question the tactics'
Ford's friend rejects claims that Ford misidentified Kavanaugh
Ford's friend rejects claims that Ford misidentified KavanaughSept. 27, 201804:06
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.
What to know— and how to watch — the Senate hearing
NBC News will live blog this morning's hearing, with contributions from political reporters Adam Edelman, Dartunorro Clark, Jane C. Timm and Jonathan Allen, along with MSNBC and NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos and many others.
Here's what thing you need to know ahead of the hearing, from NBC News digital's Congress reporter, Rebecca Shabad. And here's how to watch it live.