Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Christine Blasey Ford steps into spotlight; defiant Kavanaugh fights back

Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford traded vastly different versions of their high school days

A riveting, high-stakes exchange of she-said, he-said played out in full view of the world Thursday as Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford traded vastly different versions of their high school days in the summer of 1982, with control of the highest court in the land hanging in the balance.

Under a searing public spotlight, a “terrified” Blasey Ford put a face and a voice to her name as she told her harrowing story of an alleged high-school sexual assault she said she is “100 per cent” certain was committed by Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Later in the day, Kavanaugh himself — defiant, at times visibly enraged, other times struggling to hold back tears — refuted Blasey Ford’s claims before the Senate Judiciary Committee, excoriating its Democratic members as being complicit in what he called a “national disgrace.”

“My family has been destroyed by this,” said Kavanaugh, insisting he was not at the gathering at a suburban Maryland home in the summer of 1982 where Blasey Ford has alleged she was forced into a bedroom and sexually assaulted by a man she has “no doubt” was the nominee.

Earlier, without him in the room, 51-year-old Blasey Ford described fearing for her life when Kavanaugh allegedly covered her mouth to stifle her cries for help.

“He began running his hands over my body and grinding into me,” she recounted, describing in detail how her drunken assailant struggled to undress her.

“I believed he was going to rape me,” she said.

“I tried to yell for help; when I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life: it was hard for me to breathe, and I thought Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

And she denied being part of any political conspiracy: “I am an independent person and I am no one’s pawn.”

READ MORE: Trump says his past accusers influence thinking on Kavanaugh

Blasey Ford spent the morning detailing her story and ably fielding questions — alternatively from Democrats and from Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor tapped by Republicans to query witnesses on their behalf.

Where Blasey Ford was muted and self-effacing, Kavanaugh was by turns defiant and defensive.

“This is a circus,” he declared, gesticulating at the Democratic side of the dais as he all but accused them of masterminding a ”calculated and orchestrated political hit” — an echo of the sentiments expressed all week by the man who nominated him.

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” and the allegations have “totally and permanently destroyed” his family and good name, he added.

“You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

During the morning session, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Blasey Ford how certain she was that Kavanaugh was her attacker. Without hesitation, she replied: “100 per cent.”

Then, when asked about the incident’s most indelible moment: the laughter, she said, her voice clear but close to breaking.

“The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

Even GOP-friendly Fox News Channel host Chris Wallace had to acknowledge Blasey Ford’s testimony had been “a disaster” for Republicans.

And despite Kavanaugh’s fiery opening statement, things didn’t get much better when Democrats began pressing him on two issues central to the political battle: whether he would support suspending the hearing to allow an FBI investigation, and whether friend Mark Judge, purportedly a witness to the alleged assault, should have been called to testify.

Kavanaugh refused to answer the latter question directly, and grew frustrated with Leahy’s questions about his high school yearbook and its apparent references to excessive drinking and “sexual exploits.” Leahy eventually gave up, saying, “We had a filibuster, but not a single answer.”

Durbin appeared to corner Kavanaugh on whether he’d support an FBI investigation, leading to an awkward exchange of silence between the two — “I’m telling the truth,” the judge shouted repeatedly; “I’m innocent” — before South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham came to his rescue.

Democrats are simply trying to keep the Supreme Court seat open in hopes of winning the White House in two years’ time, and don’t care if they “destroy” Kavanaugh’s life in the process, Graham said.

“This is the most unethical thing I’ve seen since I’ve been in politics, and if you really wanted to know the truth, you wouldn’t have done what you did to this guy.”

Then, to Kavanaugh: “If you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time.”

Supreme Court nominations are often hotly contested given the consequences: Kavanaugh’s presence there would ensure conservative control of the high court for a generation, and give Trump and Republicans a badly needed win going into the November midterms.

Those elections could also end the narrow Republican majority in the Senate, which would make getting a conservative justice confirmed even more difficult.

The president took to Twitter moments after the hearings ended, backing Kavanaugh and demanding a confirmation vote in the Senate.

“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!”

Then there is the question of two other accusers.

Deborah Ramirez alleges the nominee waved his penis in her face at a drunken dorm party during his first year at Yale. And Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Julie Swetnick, has accused Kavanaugh and Judge of spiking drinks at parties where there were “gang rapes” of intoxicated women.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Crews put out small fire in Rutland home

The fire which was located on the second floor of the townhouse complex is now out

Multiple crashes, including a bus, plague Highway 97

Thursday’s evening commute in Kelowna slowed by collisions

Health minister announces new urgent care centre in Kelowna

Adrian Dix made the annoucment Thursday at the Capri Centre

Provincial Mobile Medical Unit makes an appearance in Kelowna

The high tech hospital on wheels provides medical care for rural communities and during emergencies

Special Olympics fundraiser comes to downtown Kelowna

motionball Marathon of Sport kicks-off in City Park Saturday

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

South Okanagan driver held at gunpoint, car-jacked on East Side Road

Penticton RCMP are asking for the public to keep an eye out for the suspect, stolen vehicle

VIDEO: Tempers flare during Sagmoen’s police interview

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Cross-Canada cyclist riding for sobriety makes next B.C. stop

BMX biker Mat Fee stopped during the final leg of his charity bike ride in Sicamous

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Most Read