Brett Kavanaugh hearing - LIVE: Christine Ford's powerful testimony followed by angry statement from Kavanaugh saying life of his wife and family 'has been destroyed'
One of the two women to have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has provided sworn statements from four people she believes corroborate her claims.
A day before Christine Blasey Ford and Mr Kavanaugh were to appear before senators in one of the most anticipated events in Capitol Hill for years, Ms Ford sent senators statements by other people she said confirmed her alleged sexual assault. It came as, in another staggering twist, a third woman – Julie Swetnick – revealed she had filed a lawsuit claiming Mr Kavanaugh and one of his close friends were present at "gang rapes".
One of those to have signed a document is Adela Gildo-Mazzon, who said she had been a friend of Ms Ford for 10 years. She wrote that during a June 2013 meal in California, the academic had appeared upset.
“Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger,” she wrote. “She said she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge. She told me she had been trapped in a room with two drunken guys, and that she had escaped, ran away and hid.”
Another person, Rebecca White, a neighbour and friend for more than six years, said Ms Ford revealed the alleged assault in 2017.
“She told me she had read a recent social media post I had written about my own experience with sexual assault,” she said. “She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen. I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.”
The statements, first reported by USA Today, have further raised the stakes for the testimony to be given by Ms Ford and Mr Kavanaugh, who has strongly denied accusations of sexual misconduct from two women, when they appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In turn, Mr Kavanaugh’s lawyers sent the committee pages from his 1982 calendar to try and bolster his claim that he was not present at the high school party in Maryland where Ms Ford alleges he tried to forcibly remove her clothes.
Rather than question the pair themselves, Republican senators have hired an Arizona-based lawyer, Rachel Mitchell, with experience in sex crimes prosecution, to carry out the questioning. It is believed Democratic senators will question Ms Ford and Mr Kavanaugh themselves.
Politico said Ms Ford would appear first, followed by Mr Kavanugh, and the committee has given senators or a counsel if they wish, five minutes to question the pair. Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley was provisionally scheduled a committee meeting for Friday to vote on whether to pass Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full senate for confirmation. That could happen as early as next Tuesday,
At the same time, the committee appears unwilling to hear testimony from another woman, Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Mr Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when she and the judge were students at Yale University. Ms Ramirez’s lawyer, John Clune, told two television channels on Wednesday she had not been invited to speak to senators but would likely be willing to appear.
Mr Trump, reportedly becoming increasingly frustrated over the hold-up in confirming his second conservative justice to the Supreme Court, something Republicans want to campaign on ahead of the midterm elections, has defended 53-year-old Mr Kavanaugh.
Having for several days kept a diplomatic tone about his nominee’s accusers at the United Nations in New York this week, the president resorted to language to which people are more accustomed to.
“She said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up and she doesn’t know it was him but it might have been him,” Mr Trump said of Mr Ramirez, whose claims were first reported by the New Yorker. “Oh, gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.”
The third person to sign a declaration in support of Ms Ford was Keith Koegler, who said she had revealed the alleged assault to him in 2016, when the two parents were watching their children play and discussing the “light” sentencing of Stanford University student Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexual assault.
“Christine expressed anger at Mr Turner’s lenient sentence, stating that she was particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington DC,” Mr Koegler wrote.
The fourth person to have signed a sworn statement is Ms Ford’s husband, Russell. He said he learned of the alleged sexual assault “around the time we got married”. Details were not shared until they attended a couple’s therapy session in 2012.
Mr Ford wrote: “I remember her saying that her attacker’s name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine’s home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington DC community.”
The New York Times said Republicans were becoming anxious ahead of Thursday’s testimony and were especially concerned about another of their party’s swing voters, senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. She told the newspaper it was essential the senators not prejudge the sexual assault allegations against the nominee.
“We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,” Ms. Murkowski told The Times. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”
With a 51-to-49 majority, senate Republicans can afford to lose only one vote, assuming they get no Democrats. Republicans are also concerned about whether Mr Kavanaugh will receive the support of Maine senator Susan Collins.