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Live blog: Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford testify at Senate hearing

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.

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Dartunorro Clark

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.

Frank Thorp V

Hearing adjourned

It’s over, 8 hours and 45 minutes after it began.

Watch key moments from the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing

NBC News

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.

Dartunorro Clark

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.”

Kasie Hunt

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 

Kristen Welker

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.

Dartunorro Clark

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.

Jane C. Timm

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

Watch angry Graham issue a warning to his GOP colleagues

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.

 

NBC News

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.