Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony today to the Senate Judiciary Committee has prompted many comparisons to Anita Hill’s a generation ago: So far, through the initial rounds of questions, the differences outweigh the similarities.
Hill faced relentless pounding from Republican senators. One, the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, accused her of committing “flat-out perjury” in her claim that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her at work.
Ford, by contrast, has had no questions from Republican senators. Instead, the committee’s Republican majority has turned its time over to Rachel Mitchell, an outside counsel from Arizona who has extensive experience prosecuting crimes involving sexual violence.
As Christine Blasey Ford has testified, her training as a research psychologist has periodically become obvious.
Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) about the impact that the alleged attack had on her life, Ford referred to the “sequelae” of the attack, a psychology term that refers to the symptoms that can follow a traumatic event. Ford has a doctorate in educational psychology from USC.
The sequelae of sexual assault vary from victim to victim, she noted, adding that in her case, she had suffered from “PTSD-like” symptoms, including claustrophobia.
Christine Blasey Ford spoke emotionally as she told the Senate Judiciary Committee about the night she said Brett M. Kavanaugh assaulted her in a bedroom during a house party while they were both in high school.
"I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help," Ford said, her voice breaking. "When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was 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 that Brett was accidentally going to kill me."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended her decision not to immediately hand over Christine Blasey Ford’s original letter to the Judiciary Committee.
In her opening statement Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave a forceful defense of her decision not to immediately hand over Christine Blasey Ford’s original letter to the Judiciary Committee.
“Yes, I did receive a letter from Dr. Ford,” Feinstein, the California Democrat, said. “I held it confidential, up to a point where the witness was willing to come forward.”
Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), have begun calling the letter Feinstein’s “secret evidence” saying she released the letter alleging sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in high school at the most politically opportune time.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley is opening a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with an apology to both Kavanaugh and his accuser for the way they've been treated, saying they and their families have received “vile threats.”
The Iowa Republican promised a “safe, comfortable and dignified” atmosphere Thursday as his committee hears from both.
Grassley also said it had been a “terrible couple of weeks” for both Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who says Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were teens.
Actress Alyssa Milano, who waited for nearly an hour in the nearly empty committee room for the proceedings to start, is attending as a guest of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Milano has been an outspoken activist in the #MeToo era, including protesting on Capitol Hill in recent days, and said she wanted to be in the room as moral support for Christine Blasey Ford.
“Any time people are talking about issues of sexual harassment, assault and abuse it helps,” Milano said. “Progress often lives in the grey areas and I do think that this is helpful.”
She said the 1991 hearings in which now-Justice Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by professor Anita Hill were “the foundation of my learning about what sexual harassment was.” This hearing will be different, she predicted.
Julie Swetnick, who was the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, spoke with John Heilemann of “The Circus” in her first on-camera interview since coming forward Wednesday.