Politics

Under Questioning, Ford Recalls Kavanaugh ‘Having Fun at My Expense’

Accuser says she struggled academically, still has claustrophobia

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee she experienced anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms after what she says was a sexual assault carried out by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“I struggled academically,” she told ranking member Dianne Feinstein, adding she also had problems having relationships with males when she arrived at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to begin her undergraduate studies.

Part of her opening statement included an anecdote about insisting her family’s home have a second front door installed during a remodel. She did not explain in that prepared statement.

But under questioning by Feinstein, she revealed pushing her husband to have it installed due to claustrophobia that began after the alleged attack.

Watch: Senate Buildings Crowded With Protests For and Against Kavanaugh as Blasey Ford Testifies

Grassley and other Republicans have criticized Ford for not coming forward sooner. Ford told Feinstein that she tried to provide the information anonymously, but decided to go public when reporters showed up outside her house and one appeared in a graduate school classroom. “I mistook her for a student,” the California professor said.

“The same way I’m talking to you,” Ford told Feinstein when asked how she can be sure it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her. “Basic memory functions,” she added.

Ford again grew emotional when she told Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., that “indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” saying she vividly recalls Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge “having fun at my expense“ during the alleged incident.

Asked by Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois to put a percentage of certainty on her memory that it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, Ford responded, “100 percent.”

Grassley shot back at Durbin's criticism of the committee’s response to Ford’s allegation as the panel prepared for its first break. “There were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation, and her privacy would have been protected,” he said sharply, referring to the span between Feinstein receiving a confidential letter and Ford going public.

“We should have investigated it,” Grassley said before banging his gavel for a short break.

After the break

As the hearing crossed the two-hour mark, Mitchell had focused on Ford’s memory, the proximity of her then-house to the house where the allegedly incident took place.

Other than Grassley, not a single GOP member had said a word into a microphone other than to give their time to Mitchell.

Mitchell did ask Ford several questions about whether she used Kavanaugh’s name when she told her husband and several others about the incident.

Ford said she did not, but the prosecutor did not press the issue.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a former prosecutor, asked Ford what she “don’t forget about that night.”

“The stairwell. The living room. The bedroom. The bed on the right side of the room. … The bathroom in close proximity,” she said. “The laughter — the uproarious laughter. And the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.”

Klobuchar and Grassley briefly sparred about her request to enter into the record the results of a polygraph test that found she was being truthful about the event. Grassley wanted the charts associated with the report, but Ford’s attorney and Klobuchar stated that they had offered to have the polygraph administrator and his associated materials testify, but that did not happen. Klobuchar said they could get the material eventually, but she wanted the report entered into the record. 

“You got what you wanted, and I’d think you’d be satisfied,” the chairman shot back. Klobuchar said she was.

Mitchell's apparent strategy of questioning Ford about individual conversations and pieces of correspondence came into focus when Ford told her at 12:27 p.m. that “my mind is getting a little tired.”

Mitchell had continued with a question as Ford and one of her lawyers searched for a document related to the inquiry.

In a less-than-flattering moment for California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, Ford’s congressional representative, the accuser said her attempts to alert Eshoo’s office about her allegations went unanswered — until President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh as his second high court pick on July 9.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., took a shot at one of the panel’s GOP members who has adamantly defended Kavanaugh and raised sharp questions about Ford and Kavanaugh’s other accusers.

He read aloud from a book Graham wrote, focusing on a section about his time as a prosecutor. “I learned how unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailant,” Blumenthal read, quoting Graham. 

Blumenthal then credited Ford for showing the same kind of courage.

Back on the GOP side, Mitchell attempted to cast doubt on the polygraph test, asking Ford questions about whether she had been coached on it, and where and when the test was administered.

Watch: Trump on Believing Kavanaugh Allegations: ‘I Have to Watch Tomorrow’

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