Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: All the latest updates
Christine Blasey Ford has accused US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
According to Ford, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothing at a party in 1982.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in July, denies the allegations, calling them “a smear campaign”.
Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified in front of the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27.
A day after the emotional testimony, the panel voted to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate but called on the White House to order an FBI investigation into the allegations before a full Senate vote.
Trump directed the FBI to conduct a probe late last Friday. The FBI concluded its investigation on Wednesday.
Kavanaugh passes ‘significant test’
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, DC, said Friday’s vote was a “significant test” for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“But it does not mean that the people who voted to end the debate are then actually going to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. That is what the last vote is for,” she said.
“We will be hearing from the senators throughout the day on Friday explaining what their concerns are, what their support for Brett Kavanaugh is.”
According to a long-standing US Senate rule, there is 30-hour period between the end of debate – the cloture vote – and the actual floor vote on nomination.
“There can’t be another vote until midday on Saturday at the earliest,” said Jordan.
Trump: ‘Very proud’ of Senate vote
US President Donald Trump has praised the Senate for pushing his Supreme Court nominee past a key hurdle.
“Very proud of the US Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!” Trump wrote on Twitter, minutes after the procedural vote on Friday.
Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
Majority votes to advance Kavanuagh
Majority of the senators voted in support of advancing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the final confirmation debate.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 51-49 to set up a likely final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday.
Republican Sentor Collins ‘to vote yes’ on Friday’s vote
Republican Senator Susan Collins is set to vote yes in favour of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh during the procedural vote on Friday, according to the CNN.
Collins, who is considered a swing vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, will announce at 3pm (1900 GMT) how she will vote on the final confirmation scheduled for Saturday, CNN reported.
Crucial Senate vote set to begin at 14:30 GMT
The Senate will hold a key procedural vote on Kavanaugh on Friday as Trump seeks to cement the conservative grip on the US Supreme Court.
Republican were growing more confident they would win the 10:30am (14:30GMT) vote after two wavering Republican senators responded positively on Thursday to an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
The final confirmation vote is expected on Saturday.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Republican leaders were still not completely sure they had the votes needed to confirm Kavanaugh, Trump’s second nominee to the court since he took office in January last year.
Asked on Fox News how the vote would go, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who oversaw Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearings, said, “As of now I don’t really know and I don’t know if anybody else does.”
Wednesday, October 4
Kavanaugh says he ‘might have been too emotional’
Kavanaugh is acknowledging he “might have been too emotional” in Senate testimony but says he can be counted on to be an “even-keeled” judge.
Kavanaugh said Thursday in an op-ed that his “tone was sharp” and he said “a few things” he should not have during testimony to the Judiciary Committee about accusations of sexual misconduct. He forcefully denied the allegations.
Kavanaugh’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal was published on the eve of a key procedural vote in the Senate on his nomination. His column appeared aimed at winning over the three Republican senators who remain undecided.
He wrote that he always treats others with “utmost respect”, and “going forward, you can count on” him to be the “same kind of judge” he’s always been.
Procedural vote set for 10:30am on Friday
The Senate is poised to take a key procedural vote at 10:30 a.m. Friday on whether to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled the vote as part of the process toward a final confirmation vote this weekend.
Kavanaugh has not yet locked up the votes needed. Key undecided senators spent hours Thursday in a secure briefing room pouring over the FBI’s report on allegations of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
While most Republicans say the findings of the FBI affirmed their support for Kavanaugh, three senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have yet to announce how they will vote.
Two Republican “no” votes could sink the nomination.
Thousands protest Kavanaugh’s nomination
Thousands protested against Kavanaugh’s nomination in the capital on Thursday.
US Capitol Police say 302 people were arrested Thursday for illegally protesting inside Senate office buildings against the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
We were planning to shut down the Capitol Building but the authorities were so scared of this #WomensWave that they shut it down for us.
1000+ women, survivors, and allies have gathered in the Hart Senate Building.
Every hallway. Every floor.#CancelKanavaugh #BelieveSurvivors pic.twitter.com/rIwjBht6e7
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) October 4, 2018
The protesters had originally planned to protest on the Capitol steps. But after police blockaded the steps, protesters headed to the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building.
The vast majority of the arrests – 293 – took place on the Hart atrium floor. Another nine people were arrested for another demonstration on the fourth floor of the adjacent Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Retired Supreme Court Justice says Kavanuagh shouldn’t be confirmed
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is quoted as saying that Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be confirmed to the high court because of Kavanaugh’s potential political bias.
It’s rare for a retired justice to weigh in on a pending nomination.
The Palm Beach Post reports that Stevens, in remarks to a group of retirees in Florida, suggested Kavanaugh lacked the temperament for the lifetime appointment.
Stevens, who’s praised Kavanaugh before, says he’s changed his mind about Kavanaugh for reasons unrelated to Kavanaugh’s “intellectual ability”.
Stevens is quoted as saying: “I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”
He says commentators have argued that Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony last week showed a potential for political bias.
And the newspaper says Stevens says he thinks “there’s merit to that criticism and I think the senators should really pay attention that.”
The 98-year-old Stevens was nominated to the court by Republican President Gerald Ford and served from 1975 to 2010.
Democrat Heidi Heitkamp says she will vote ‘no’
Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp says she will vote no on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“The process has been bad … I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh,” Heitkamp told North Dakota’s ABC-affiliated WDAY news.
Heitkamp, who is running for re-election in North Dakota, a traditionally Republican state, had not announced how she would vote on Kavanaugh.
She had been one of three Democrats to vote in favour of Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.
Flake says FBI investigation adds ‘no additional corroborating info’
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who remains undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination, tells CNN that he has “seen no additional corroborating information” on the allegations made by Ford.
He also says he agrees with Senator Susan Collins, who also remains undecided, assessment of the report. Earlier in the day, Collins told reporters that the FBI appeared to have conducted a “very thorough investigation”, but she would read the report in full later in the day.
Collins says FBI probe seems ‘very thorough’
A key undecided Republican senator says the FBI appears to have conducted a “very thorough investigation” of the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh.
But Maine’s Susan Collins says she wants to read the report for herself.
Collins is among the few wavering senators who could decide whether Kavanaugh is confirmed for a seat on the high court.
That group includes fellow Republican Lisa Murkowski, who tells reporters she’s heading to the secure room in the Capitol complex where the FBI report is available to be read.
Other Republicans who’ve left a briefing on the report says there’s nothing in it to corroborate the allegations against Kavanaugh. He denies the accusations.
Senate Democrats say the investigation was incomplete and may have been limited by the White House.
McConnell says FBI didn’t corroborate claims
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the FBI’s background investigation of Kavanaugh didn’t corroborate any of the sexual misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.
McConnell says the FBI didn’t uncover information from any witnesses to corroborate the claims against Kavanaugh, including from people his accusers named as eyewitnesses. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
McConnell says senators won’t be “hoodwinked” by those who have tried to “smear” Kavanaugh’s reputation.
Democrats criticise ‘very limited’ FBI report
Senate Democrats are criticising the White House for what they say is a limited FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the most notable part of report into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh “is what’s not in it”.
Feinstein says the report made available to senators on Thursday is “very limited” and she says “it looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation”.
Feinstein says the White House may have limited the probe.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says he disagrees with a statement by the committee’s Republican chairman that the report found “no hint of misconduct” by Kavanaugh.
Schumer is calling for the report to be made public as well the directive the White House gave the FBI ordering the investigation.
Some Senators may have to wait until Friday to read report
Some senators might need to wait until Friday for the chance to see the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
A Democratic senator says lawmakers are being told that time slots for reading the report are getting full.
Illinois’s Tammy Duckworth tells reporters that “it’s so backed up I might have to wait until tomorrow. They’re so swamped.”
Senators are expected to begin reviewing the confidential FBI report on Thursday in a secure room in the Capitol complex.
White House gets confidential FBI files on Kavanaugh allegations
The White House says it has received the FBI’s supplemental background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and senators have enough time to review it and vote.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley tweeted early Thursday he also had received the file. Grassley is expected to read it Thursday morning, followed by his colleagues.
White House spokesman Raj Shah says senators “have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation” into Kavanaugh, who denies accusations of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and college.
Shah says the White House is “confident the Senate will vote to confirm” Kavanaugh.
Senate Judiciary Committee receives FBI report
The Senate Judiciary Committee says it has received an FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley tweeted early Thursday, “Supplemental FBI background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received.”
Grassley is expected to read the FBI report on Thursday morning, followed by his colleagues. Because the report is confidential, senators will not be allowed to talk about what’s in it.
Ford’s attorneys have said she was not contacted for an interview. But the FBI spoke to a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in college. Kavanaugh says that accusation is false.
Initial Senate vote set for Friday
The full Senate is preparing to weigh in on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court with an initial vote on Friday.
In setting the voting process in motion, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to call for a final vote over the weekend.
Wednesday, October 1
Church council calls for Kavanaugh withdrawal
A massive coalition of US Christian churches attended by 40 million people wants Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his Supreme Court nomination.
The National Council of Churches says the conservative jurist has “disqualified himself”. The group says in a statement that at last week’s dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he showed “extreme partisan bias”, demonstrating he lacks the temperament to join the high court.
The group says Kavanaugh told “outright falsehoods” and is criticising his judicial record on voting rights, health care and other issues on which the group has taken liberal-leaning positions.
Kavanaugh is a Roman Catholic who has said religion is an important part of his life. The council does not represent Roman Catholics.
Ford will turn over therapy notes if FBI agrees to interview
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say they’ll turn over notes from her therapy sessions and any recordings of her taking a lie detector test to the FBI if the bureau agrees to interview her.
Ford’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, say they haven’t heard back from the FBI about scheduling an interview to investigate Ford’s claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago.
The response comes a day after Republican Senator Chuck Grassley accused the attorneys of “withholding material evidence.”
The senator said he is requesting the recordings because the committee has obtained a letter that “raises specific concerns” about the reliability of Ford’s polygraph test.
McConnell declines Democrats’ request for FBI briefing
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declining Democrats’ request for a briefing by FBI agents on the investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
McConnell said in a letter Wednesday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he believes Democrats would only use such a briefing to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The GOP leader also said a briefing by FBI agents would be “unprecedented and irregular” and not in keeping with previous practice.
The FBI is expected to soon provide senators with the results of its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh when he was in high school and college. Kavanaugh has denied the claims.
The FBI’s files are confidential. Only senators and authorized staff will be able to read them.
White House defends Trump amid criticism
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is defending President Trump’s decision to go after the woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Sanders told reporters Wednesday at a rare White House briefing that “the president was stating the facts” at a Mississippi rally Tuesday night.
Sanders is also blasting Democrats, accusing them of launching a “full-scale assault on” Kavanaugh’s integrity. She’s calling it “a coordinated smear campaign”.
Murkowski says Trump’s Ford remarks unacceptable
A third Republican senator wavering on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is criticising President Trump’s mocking of a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski says Trump’s remarks about accuser Christine Blasey Ford were “wholly inappropriate” and “unacceptable”.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, who are also considered swing votes on Kavanaugh, criticised the president’s remarks as well.
White House adviser Conway: Ford treated like a ‘Faberge egg’
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is defending President Trump after he mocked Christine Blasey Ford for her inability to remember details about the night she said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
Conway told reporters at the White House Wednesday that Ford has “been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president.” She said Trump was “pointing out factual inconsistencies”.
The president, at a rally in Mississippi Tuesday night, mimicked Ford’s responses to questions at a Senate hearing last week when she described her allegations about nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Conway argued: “Those who pretend they are searching for truth are already voting against him.” She also said Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 should know that their voters “want him to be confirmed”.
Senate Minority Leader Schumer: Trump has reached ‘new low’
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump has reached a “new low” with his “outright mockery” of Brett Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
The Democratic leader said on Wednesday in a floor speech that Trump should apologise for mocking Ford at a rally Tuesday night in Mississippi. The president made fun of Ford’s inability to remember some details about the night she says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh.
Schumer said even those who doubt Ford’s allegations can refrain from “nasty, vicious attacks”.
He said Trump is “degrading” the way people are treating one another and doing “permanent damage” to the country with his comments.
Democrat Kirstin Gillibrand: Trump has no empathy for sexual violence survivors
Democratic Senator Kirstin Gillibrand says Trump’s comments about Brett Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are “disgraceful”.
The New York senator told reporters Wednesday that Trump’s remarks at a Mississippi campaign rally show “he has no empathy for survivors of sexual violence”.
Trump mocked Ford’s inability to remember specific aspects of the incident in which she alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 35 years ago. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Gillibrand, a potential presidential candidate in 2020, said she has turned over to the FBI information Wednesday from a constituent who wanted to testify about Kavanaugh’s behaviour.
McConnell maintains Kavanaugh vote will happen this week
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the “far left” is trying to “bully” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a “mudslide” of sexual misconduct allegations.
McConnell in a floor speech Wednesday said the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week.
He added that senators will not be intimidated by the protesters opposed to Kavanaugh who have been confronting them in the hallways of the Capitol, at airports and at their homes.
McConnell said: “There’s no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty.”
The FBI has almost completed its expanded investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanagh. Once the Senate receives the FBI’s report, Republicans are expected to move toward a vote.
A handful of senators are undecided on Kavanaugh and their votes will likely decide whether he is confirmed.
Republican Senator Susan Collins: Trump’s mocking of Ford ‘just plain wrong’
A second Republican senator wavering on Brett Kavanaugh is criticizing President Donald Trump’s mocking of a woman who’s accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually attacking her in the 1980s.
Susan Collins of Maine told reporters that Trump’s remarks about Christine Blasey Ford were “just plain wrong”.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake: Trump’s mocking Ford ‘kind of appalling’
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake says Trump’s mocking of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was “not right” and “kind of appalling.”
But Flake isn’t saying whether he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Ford alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. He denies the accusation.
Trump mocked Ford at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, listing what he described as holes in her account as his audience laughed.
Flake told NBC’s Today show on Wednesday that mocking “something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right.” Flake added: “I wish he hadn’t done it. It’s kind of appalling.”
Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, said last week he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh but called for an expanded FBI investigation of the accusations, delaying the confirmation timetable. Flake said Wednesday he’d be concerned if the FBI only followed up on a few leads.
Tuesday, October 2
Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford
During a campaign rally in Mississippi, Trump mocked Ford, whom he had previously called a credible witness.
The audience laughed as Trump ran through a list of what he described as holes in Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last week, she testified that Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, tried to take off her clothes and covered her mouth in the early 1980s when the two were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations.
“How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember,'” Trump said at the rally Tuesday in Southaven. “How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.'”
Imitating Ford, he added, “But I had one beer – that’s the only thing I remember.”
It marked the sharpest criticism by Trump of Ford since she came forward publicly with the allegation last month. He had previously called Ford a “very credible witness” while continuing to back Kavanaugh.
Ford has not been contacted for interview with FBI: lawyer
Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford say in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray that they’ve received no response from anyone involved in the FBI’s reopened background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In a letter Tuesday to Wray and his general counsel, Ford’s lawyers said it is “inconceivable” that the FBI could conclude its investigation without interviewing either her, Kavanaugh or all of the other witnesses whose names she has provided.
In the letter, the lawyers asked for a call with Wray or the supervisory special agent in charge of the investigation.
Democrats want to hear directly from FBI
Senate Democrats want to hear directly from the FBI about the results of its background investigation on Kavanaugh.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader from New York, said the Senate should be briefed by the FBI at least 24 hours before an initial procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
He said it’s important that senators have a chance to ask directly about what the FBI investigated, what evidence they collected and whom they interviewed.
Schumer made his request in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McConnell has said the Senate will be voting on Kavanaugh this week.
Trump: It is ‘a scary time for young men’
President Donald Trump says he wants to “see what happens” with the FBI investigation into his embattled Supreme Court nominee, but that it was a “scary time for young men”.
Trump told reporters on the White House lawn Tuesday that he supported Kavanaugh, adding that it was “a scary time for young men” who could become subject of false accusations.
“It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” Trump said. “This is a very, very – this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.”
When asked if he had a message to women, Trump said: “Women are doing great.”
Trump added that he felt the cause would be “a rallying cry” for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, completes FBI interview
Mark Judge, a high school friend of Kavanaugh, has completed his interview with FBI agents.
His attorney, Barbara “Biz” Van Gelder, wouldn’t say Tuesday when the interview concluded or what Judge was asked. Judge is one of multiple people the FBI has interviewed as part of its reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh.
On Monday, Van Gelder said her client had been questioned by the FBI but that the interview was “not completed”.
Judge has previously denied the allegations, as has Kavanaugh.
Two other people who Ford said attended the same party have also been interviewed by the FBI.
Protesters arrested in West Virginia after staging sit-in
Police say nine women who refused to leave a West Virginia senator’s office during a protest over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been charged with trespassing.
Charleston Police Department Lt Autumn Davis confirms nine people were charged but declines to comment further.
Local media report the women staged a sit-in at Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s campaign office in Charleston and were charged early on Tuesday. The protesters wanted Manchin to commit to opposing Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation to the court.
Manchin declined, saying in a statement he will continue to listen to residents on the issue but will base his decision on facts.
Monday, October 1
Democrats: Mounting evidence suggests Kavanaugh is not credible
Democrats are raising new questions about Kavanaugh’s truthfulness when he testified before the Judiciary Committee last week.
The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, says Kavanaugh seems willing to mislead senators about matters big and small to ensure his confirmation. He says there is mounting evidence that the appeals court judge isn’t credible.
Democrats have seized on Kavanaugh’s indignant, emotional testimony to the Judiciary Committee to question whether he has the temperament for a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court.
Kavanaugh has denied claims of sexual misconduct by three different women.
FBI speaks to Mark Judge, but interview ‘not completed’
A lawyer for Mark Judge, a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says Judge has been interviewed by the FBI but his “interview has not been completed”.
Lawyer Barbara “Biz” Van Gelder issued the statement Monday.
Christine Blasey Ford has said Judge was in the room when a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in the early 1980s. Judge has denied the allegations, as has Kavanaugh.
Others who have spoken with the FBI include a Yale classmate who has said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were students.
Republicans: Senate to vote this week on Kavanaugh confirmation
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote this week on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Kentucky Republican has used a Senate floor speech to accuse Democrats of constantly delaying and resisting Kavanaugh’s nomination. He said: “The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close.”
McConnell is suggesting a parallel between Democrats’ actions and the McCarthy era of the 1940s and 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy used unfounded allegations to accuse people of being communists without firm evidence, ruining their reputations.
FBI interviews alleged witness
The FBI has interviewed a man who Christine Blasey Ford said attended the same party where she said she was attacked by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the 1980s.
That’s according to Eric Bruce, the attorney for Patrick “PJ” Smyth.
Bruce said Monday that his client “fully cooperated” with the FBI and answered “every question” that agents asked him.
Bruce says Smyth told them he had “no knowledge” of the small gathering that Ford described.
He also says Smyth does not have “any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has levelled against Brett Kavanaugh”.
White House widens scope of FBI probe
The White House issued revised guidance to the FBI stating that agents can interview anyone they deem relevant as part of their investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
That is according to a person familiar with the probe who spoke to The Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss the background investigation process.
President Trump ordered the FBI to reopen Kavanaugh’s background investigation Friday after several women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
The person familiar with the matter said the investigation must conclude by Friday and it is possible, but unlikely, agents will finish their work before the end of the week.
Trump: FBI probe should be ‘comprehensive’
Trump says he wants a “comprehensive” FBI investigation of the sexual assault accusations against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Speaking at a White House Rose Garden event on Monday, Trump told reporters that he continues to support Kavanaugh but that he also wants the FBI to investigate the charges from Christine Blasey Ford and as many as two other accusers.
Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegations but the Senate directed the FBI to investigate them for up to a week.
Trump also denied reports that the White House is limiting the scope of the probe, saying: “My White House is doing whatever the senators want.”
He said the one thing he wants is speed because drawing the situation out is “unfair” to Kavanaugh’s family.
Friday, September 28
Ford welcomes probe, says no limits should be imposed
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer says her client welcomes the announcement of a new FBI investigation into the allegations she has made against Brett Kavanaugh, but that limits should not be imposed.
“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts,” Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz said in a statement. “Dr Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins – and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation – to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” she added.
“No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”
Kavanaugh: I will continue to cooperate
Brett Kavanaugh says he will continue to cooperate with officials during his confirmation process.
“Throughout this process, I’ve been interviewed by the FBI, I’ve done a number of ‘background’ calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me,” he said in a statement. “I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate.”
Trump orders FBI probe into Kavanaugh
In a reversal of his previous statements, Trump has ordered the FBI to conduct a new investigation into Kavanaugh. Trump said the probe must be “limited in scope” and last no longer than a week.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement. “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
Senate panel to ask Trump to open new FBI probe
The Senate Judiciary Committee says it will ask Trump to instruct the FBI to open a new investigation into Kavanaugh, potentially delaying a full Senate vote on his nomination.
Republicans huddle to discuss next steps
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting with Republican senators in his office to discuss the next steps on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
GOP senators from the panel dashed to McConnell’s office immediately after the Judiciary Committee vote.
Entering McConnell’s office, Senator John Kennedy called the developments a “grotesque carnival”.
Flake calls for one-week delay of full vote
Republican Senator Jeff Flake called for an FBI probe into sexual assault allegations against the nominee before a final vote is held.
The concerns expressed by Republican Senator Jeff Flake could imperil the nomination if an FBI investigation is not launched.
Senate panel votes 11-10 to recommend confirmation of Kavanaugh’s nomination to full US Senate.
Vote was set to begin at 17:30 GMT
The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to begin voting on Kavanaugh at 1:30pm, but a number of senators are still outside the chambers.
Feinstein says Kavanaugh bid ‘test’ for nation
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is “a real test” for the Senate and the nation “to see how we treat women, especially women who are survivors of sexual assault.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that 27 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings, Republicans appear to have a new strategy for handling sexual assault allegations.
She says: “The Republican strategy is no longer ‘attack the victim.’ It is to ignore the victim.”
Feinstein says she’s disappointed the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination less than a day after emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and Ford.
Some Democrats walk out of committee meeting in protest
Some Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee walked out of the panel’s meeting in protest against its decision to hold a vote on whether to recommend Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for a full Senate vote.
Judiciary Committee to vote on Kavanaugh at 17:30GMT
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh at 1:30pm (17:30 GMT).
Key Republican Senator Flake says he will vote ‘yes’
Republican US Senator Jeff Flake on Friday said he would vote to support Kavanaugh.
“I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake, who has been critical of Trump and is set to retire after his current term, said in a statement.
Senate Judiciary Committee meets ahead of vote
Senators are now meeting ahead of a vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh.
Thursday, September 27
Republicans: ‘There will be a vote’ Friday
Republican senators say the Judiciary Committee plans to vote Friday morning on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican, had said Thursday that the GOP conference would meet and “see where we are”. After meeting, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “There will be a vote tomorrow morning.”
Senate Republicans discussing next steps
Senate Republicans are huddling to discuss the next steps on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh’s nomination unless Republicans decide to postpone it.
Trump calls Kavanaugh’s testimony ‘powerful’
As Thursday’s hearing was wrapping up, President Trump called Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful”.
“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” Trump tweeted. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting,” he wrote. “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!”
Thursday’s hearing has adjourned. Earlier in the week, the Republican-led committee scheduled a vote for Friday. The panel’s chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, said on Twitter the vote was scheduled in line with committee rules, which require a three-day notice. He indicated however, they could still delay the vote if the panel felt it needed more time.
“Still taking this 1 step at a time. After [hearing] Dr Ford & Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony – if we’re ready to vote, we will vote. If we aren’t ready, we won’t,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Kavanaugh did not listen to Ford’s testimony
Kavanaugh said he didn’t watch Ford testify about her accusation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teens.
Kavanaugh was asked by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California near the end of the hearing whether he had watched Ford’s testimony.
Kavanaugh responded: “I plan to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”
Kavanaugh: ‘Listen to both sides’
When being questioned by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kavanaugh said that senators should “listen to both sides” before making a “bottom-line” judgement.
Booker asked if Kavanaugh wished Ford would have never come forward. He also asked, referring to Kavanaugh’s earlier statements, whether he was saying Ford’s “efforts to come forward .. have all been part of an orchestrated political hit”.
Kavanaugh reiterated that he and his family have “no ill will towards Dr Ford”.
He also said that “all allegations should be taken seriously”.
Kavanaugh apologises for response to Senator Amy Klobuchar
Kavanaugh apologised after tangling with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar over his drinking in high school.
Klobuchar said Kavanaugh wrote in testimony that he sometimes had too many drinks. Klobuchar asked whether he ever drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before. Kavanaugh answered “no.”
In a back-and-forth, he added, “Have you?” and followed up a second time.
Klobuchar said: “I have no drinking problem, Judge.” Kavanaugh responded: “Nor do I.”
After returning from a break, he apologized for asking her that question.
Questioning of Brett Kavanaugh resumes.
During questions, a break of 15 minutes was called. Kavanaugh, who was visibly emotional, called for the break, according to a senator.
Democrats: Why no FBI investigation?
Senator Feinstein noted Kavanaugh’s concern regarding the allegations but asked why he did not support calls for an FBI investigation.
Kavanaugh called back to comments from his opening statement, saying he wanted to be in front of the Judicial committee the day after they were made. He said he would do what the committee wants.
Kavanaugh claims innocence, cites friendships with women
“I am innocent,” Kavanaugh told the Judiciary committee. The SCOTUS nominee said that he did not drink to the point of “blacking out”.
Several letters signed by women whom Kavanaugh called “friends, not girlfriends” extolled Kavanaugh’s character.
Kavanaugh said he has always supported women. If confirmed to the Supreme Court he would be first to have an all-female staff of law clerks, he said.
Kavanaugh says calendar shows he wasn’t there
Kavanaugh entered a personal calendar from 1982, the year in which the alleged assault occurred, into the record. He claimed that the gathering where the assault allegedly happened would have taken place on the weekend.
The calendar, Kavanaugh said, shows he was only in DC for one weekend night: Friday, June 4. He said on that day he was with his father at a professional golf tournament.
The calendars. which Kavanaugh said served as a sort of diary, “listed the precise people” who attended events with him.
Kavanaugh: ‘I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone’
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school. Not in college. Not ever,” Kavanaugh said.
The SCOTUS nominee said he didn’t question that Ford had been sexually assaulted, but he was not the person responsible for her alleged assault.
Kavanaugh blames Democrats for allegations
Kavanaugh said the allegations arose only after Democrats, who he claimed have been against him since he was nominated, were unable to disqualify him based on merits.
The allegations against him are a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled by anger against Trump.
“You’ve tried hard, you’ve given it your all,” Kavanaugh said to Democrats on the Judiciary committee, but these efforts “will not drive me out.”
Kavanaugh begins testimony
Kavanaugh began by stressing he prepared his opening remarks himself: “This is my statement.”
The SCOTUS nominee said that people who Ford said attended the party where she was allegedly assaulted claimed they did not know him.
He decried the ten-day delay between the publication of the allegations and the hearing.
In that time, his “family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations.”
Kavanaugh said the ten-day delay for a hearing was also harmful to the nation and the Supreme Court.
No more questions, 45-minute recess
Mitchell, the prosecutor to whom Republican senators ceded their time, finished her questioning of Ford. The majority of the last questions concerned Ford’s lawyers, including who was paying for their services and how she came to acquire their services.
Ford’s legal counsel explained they were providing pro bono services and did not expect to be paid.
Mitchell told Ford she was finished with questioning.
Minutes later, one of Ford’s attorneys asked to be excused. Grassley thanked Ford for her testimony and the hearing went to a 45-minute recess.
Ford: No political motivation
As the hearing resumed, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii asked Republicans on the Judiciary panel if they planned to cede all their time for questioning to Mitchell, the prosecutor questioning Ford. Grassley confirmed they did.
Ford then asked Ford if there was a political motivation behind going public with her allegations against Kavanaugh.
Ford said there was not, stressing that she attempted to make her allegations known when Kavanaugh was still one name a list of possible nominees.
Mitchell then continued questioning Ford.
Hearing breaks for lunch
The Judiciary committee will reconvene after 30 minutes.
Questions resume after break
Ford has returned to clarify her account of the alleged assault after the hearing paused for 15 minutes.
Professional prosecutor Rachel Mitchell asked Ford about the content of her therapy records concerning her memory of the assault.
Mitchell, who is questioning Ford for the Judiciary committee, asked Ford when she underwent a polygraph test concerning her allegations against Kavanaugh. Ford explained that it happened shortly after her grandmother’s funeral.
Democrats continued to call for a full FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Senator Grassley, the ranking Republican, said the hearing was so Ford could give testimony.
Ford’s questioning started shortly after her testimony. Ford corrected and amended portions of her statement, including the number of boys present at the house party where the alleged assault took place.
Then, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Ford about the most memorable part of the attack.
Ford replied: “The laughter between the two … and their having fun at my expense”.
Democratic senators continued to call for a full FBI investigation into allegations made against Kavanaugh while commending Ford for her bravery.
‘Hardest weeks of my life’
“Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves when and whether” their assault is made public, Ford said.
“I agonised daily about this decision throughout August and September” Ford continued, saying that her sense of duty “was always there”, even as her fears of exposure increased.
But reporters made it “clear” that her name would eventually be made public, so Ford decided to speak to a reporter with the Washington Post.
Since her story became public, Ford has experienced an outpouring of support, she said.
At the same time, her “greatest fears have been realised,” Ford continued, detailing death threats and vile comments. “My family and I have been [living] in various secure locales, at times separated and at times together”.
“Apart from the assault itself, the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life”, Ford said.
Ford: I was afraid of dying
“I was pushed from behind into a bedroom … Brett and Mark came into the bedroom … I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me,” Ford continued, using Kavanaugh’s first name, Brett.
Ford detailed the alleged sexual assault in graphic detail. “I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling … I couldn’t breathe,” she claimed.
Ford said she was afraid that Kavanaugh would accidentally kill her by suffocation. She said she could hear the two boys she alleged assaulted her laughing as they left the bedroom.
Ford begins her testimony
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty”, Ford began.
Ford informed the Judiciary panel how she came to know Kavanaugh.
“When I was 14 or 15 years old … I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time”, which was how they met, she said.
In the summer of 1982, Ford attended a gathering in a home that Kavanaugh also attended, she said. “I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together … I don’t remember as much as I would like to, but the details that have brought me here today, I will never forget.”
‘Where we are as a country’
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, described sexual assault as a ‘serious’ problem in the US that largely “goes unseen”, during her opening address.
The problem of sexual assault reflects “where we are as a country,” she said.
“Institutions have not progressed in how they treat women”, Feinstein said. Women are often “forced to defend themselves … re-victimized in the process”, she continued.
Feinstein recalled watching the testimony of Anita Hill, a woman who accused then SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault.
Thomas was confirmed in 1991.
Still, “Anita Hill’s allegations were reviewed by the FBI … However, despite repeated requests, President Trump and the Republicans” have not followed this step regarding the allegations made against Kavanaugh, Feinstein said.
The hearing begins
Ford is seated in front of the Senate panel, chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley who expressed the committee’s hope that the proceedings would be “safe, comfortable and dignified” for both Ford and Kavanaugh.
Grassley said that both Ford and Kavanaugh, as well as their families, had suffered “vile threats” due to the allegations against the SCOTUS nominee.
Protesters gather on Capitol Hill ahead of hearing
Protesters marched to Capitol Hill on Thursday in support of Ford. A small group of supporters were gathering in the Senate office building, while a larger protest is scheduled for 12:30pm (16:30 GMT).
Protesters from @NARAL @womensmarch @UltraViolet and more gathering in Hart Senate Office Bldg right now because GOP won’t even let the people in building whee Christine Blasey Ford testifying. pic.twitter.com/Ke8gbcM81I
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) September 27, 2018
A group of women who support Kavanaugh also held a small rally, calling for his confirmation.
“I don’t secretly want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, I OPENLY want to see Roe v. Wade overturned” #WomenforKavanaugh #IStandWithBrett@ConcernedWomen pic.twitter.com/VG1vWOLsG8
— Taylor Dawson (@heyyyy_tay) September 27, 2018
Hearing set for 14:00 GMT
Christine Blasey Ford will give her account of an alleged incident, in which she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering when both of them were in high school.
Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations made by Ford as well as two other women who have come forward, will also testify, although he will not be in the room when Ford is speaking.
The all-male Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has hired lawyer Rachel Mitchell, who has experience prosecuting sex crimes, to question Ford.
Democratic senators will ask their own questions.
A line had begun to form outside Capitol Hill hours ahead of the hearing.
Wednesday, September 26:
Anita Hill says #MeToo movement can create lasting change
Anita Hill said Wednesday her pivotal 1991 Senate testimony about sexual harassment by a Supreme Court nominee sparked a wave of awareness but that lasting change failed because of a lack of clear leadership and a reluctance to confront harsh realities.
On the eve of another hearing where a US Supreme Court nominee is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, she told a packed University of Utah audience at a preplanned lecture that the #MeToo movement has the opportunity to create long-term solutions.
However, that is going to require facing questions the nation has been reluctant to address, including the prevalence of the problem and the fact that abusers don’t always look like stereotypical monsters, she said.
“We look for simple solutions because we don’t want to deal with the hard questions,” she said. “When those simple solutions fail, too often we retreat.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes nearly 30 years after her testimony against Clarence Thomas, who was later confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Hill said that when she came forward, she was thinking about the integrity of the court and the fact that justices have lifetime appointments.
“Access to equal justice for all is what was at stake in 1991, and it’s what’s at stake now,” said Hill, now 62 and a professor at Brandeis University.
Ford to testify: ‘Assault drastically altered my life’
In her prepared opening statement for the Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Christine Blasey Ford will tell the panel’s members how the assault “drastically altered” her life.
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school,” the statement, released on Wednesday, reads.
According to the remarks, Ford will describe the events in the summer of 1982 when she said Brett Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes.
“I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult,” Ford will say.
She will also describe the reaction she has received since coming forward.
“I have experienced an outpouring of support,” she will explain. “At the time, my greatest fears have been realized – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected,” Ford will say. “My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.”
Ford will conclude by saying the past couple of weeks have been the hardest of her life.
“I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me … It is not my responsibility to determine whether Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”
Kavanaugh to tell Senate panel: ‘Last minute smears, pure and simple’
In his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh will again deny the allegations levelled against him by Christine Blasey Ford and others.
“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired,” Kavanaugh will say, according to his statement, released on Wednesday. “There has been a frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last minute smears, pure and simple.”
Kavanaugh will tell the panel that he is there to “answer these allegations and to tell the truth”.
“Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith,” he will say. “Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject also deserves to be heard.”
According to the statement, Kavanaugh will tell the committee that he “never did anything remotely resembling with Dr Ford describes”. He will add that he is “innocent of this charge.”
Trump calls allegations ‘big fat con job’
In a rare solo press conference, US President Donald Trump called the allegations levelled against Kavanaugh as a “big fat con job” orchestrated by Democrats.
“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me,” he said. “When I see it, I view it differently than someone sitting at home watching television.”
Trump said, however, that he could “always be convinced”, adding that it will be “interesting to hear what she [Ford] has to say”.
Kavanaugh calls new allegations ‘ridiculous’
In a statement on Wednesday after allegations surfaced from Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh said: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Third woman accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct
Julie Swetnick became the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct after her lawyer tweeted a declaration of the allegations on Wednesday.
According to the declaration, shared by lawyer Michael Avenatti, Swetnick said she met Kavanaugh and his school friend, Mark Judge, in the 1980s and attended several parties in which the two were present.
“On numerous occasions at these parties, I witnessed Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer,” she said. “This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.”
Avenatti said that his client demands a “full and complete” FBI investigation into the allegations.
Swetnick’s declaration comes a day before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of groping her and attempting to remove her clothes when they were both teenagers, are set to give evidence in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kavanaugh staunchly denies ever sexually assaulting anyone, and his allies have questioned the credibility of Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, based in part on what they say is a lack of corroboration. Judge, who Ford said was present at the time of the assault, said in a letter sent to the Judiciary Committee by his lawyer that he had “no memory of this alleged incident”.