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Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Hearing. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 27, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D), CALIFORNIA: I want to thank you very much for your testimony. I know how very, very hard it is.
Why -- why have you held it to yourself all these years? As you look back, can you indicate what the reasons are?
FORD: Well, I haven't held it all these years. I did disclose it in the -- in the confines of therapy, where I felt like it was an appropriate place to cope with the sequelae of the event.
FEINSTEIN: Well, can you tell us what impact the events had on you?
FORD: Well, I think that the sequelae of sexual assault varies by person, so for me personally, anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms are the types of things that I've been coping with. So, more specifically, claustrophobia, panic and that type of thing.
FEINSTEIN: Is that the reason for the second door -- front door...
FEINSTEIN: ... is claustrophobia?
FORD: Correct. It doesn't -- our house does not look aesthetically pleasing from the curb.
FEINSTEIN: I see. And do you have that second front door?
FORD: It -- it now is a place to host Google interns. Because we live near Google, so we get to have -- other students can live there.
FEINSTEIN: Can you tell us, is there any other way this has affected your life?
FORD: The primary impact was in the initial four years after the event.
I struggled academically. I struggled very much in Chapel Hill and in college. When I was 17 and went off to college, I had a very hard time, more so than others, forming new friendships and especially friendships with boys, and I had academic problems. FEINSTEIN: What were the -- when -- when we spoke and it became very clear how deeply you felt about this and the need that you wanted to remain confidential, can you talk a little bit about that?
So, I was watching carefully throughout the summer -- well, my original intent, I just want to remind was to communicate with everyone when there was still a list of candidates who all seemed to be, just from my perspective, from what I could read, equally qualified. And I was in a hurry to try to get the information forward but didn't quite know how to do that.
However, once he was selected and it seemed like he was popular and it was a sure vote, I was calculating daily the risk/benefit for me of coming forward, and wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway and that I would just be personally annihilated.
FEINSTEIN: How did you decide to come forward?
FORD: Ultimately because reporters were sitting outside my home and trying to talk to my dog through the window to calm the dog down, and a reporter appeared in my graduate classroom and I mistook her for a student, and she came up to ask me a question, and I thought she was a student and it turned out that she was a reporter.
So at that point, I felt like enough was enough. People were calling my colleagues at Stanford and leaving messages on their voicemails and on their e-mail, saying that they knew my name. Clearly, people knew my address because they were out in front of my house.
And it just -- the mounting pressure, it seemed like it was time to just...
FEINSTEIN: I want...
FORD: ... say what I needed to say.
FEINSTEIN: I'm sorry.
I want to ask you one question about the attack itself.
You were very clear about the attack. Being pushed into the room, you say you don't know quite by whom, but that it was Brett Kavanaugh that covered your mouth to prevent you from screaming, and then you escaped. How are you so sure that it was he?
FORD: The same way that I'm sure that I'm talking to you right now. It's -- just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that, sort of, as you know, encodes -- that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus. And so, the trauma-related experience, then, is kind of locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.
FEINSTEIN: So what you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?
FORD: Absolutely not.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: Ms. Mitchell, for Senator -- for Senator Hatch.
[11:05:09] RACHEL MITCHELL, COUNSEL FOR SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE REPUBLICANS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
When we were stopped, you were going to tell us a third correction that you wanted to make on that statement -- or, I'm sorry, the letter to Senator Feinstein.
FORD: It's -- it wasn't a correction, but I wanted to comment on it, since we were looking at this letter, that I did see Mark Judge once at the Potomac Village Safeway after the time of the attack. And it would be helpful with anyone's resources if -- to figure out when he worked there, if people are wanting more details from me about when the attack occurred. If we could find out when he worked there, then I could provide a more detailed timeline as to when the attack occurred.
And that -- that is -- so, that is not a correction in your statement?
FORD: It's just -- no.
You also wrote out a handwritten statement for the polygrapher when you took your polygraph test, is that correct?
And I -- I see corrections on that where you crossed out, so I will go on to The Washington Post article that was...
MITCHELL: ... originally published on September 16th of this year.
FORD: And should I just not look at this for accuracy, or we're just going to leave that be?
MITCHELL: We may...
MITCHELL: ... come back to it...
MITCHELL: ... if you need to refer to it. FORD: OK.
MITCHELL: On The Washington Post article, did you submit to an interview by a reporter with The Washington Post for that article to be written?
And then finally, was the statement that you provided this morning -- I assume that, to the best of your recollection, that that was accurate?
FORD: That this whole article is accurate?
MITCHELL: No, no. The statement that you made this morning.
I want to talk to you about the day that this happened leading up to the gathering.
MITCHELL: In your statement this morning, have you told us everything that you remember about the day leading up to that?
MITCHELL: Let me ask just a few questions to make sure that you've thought of everything, OK?
You indicated that you were at the country club swimming that day.
FORD: That's my best estimate of how this could have happened.
And when you say "best estimate," is that based on the fact that you said you went there pretty much every day?
MITCHELL: Is that a yes?
Do you recall prior to getting there -- so I'm -- I'm only talking about up to the gathering -- had you had anything to drink?
FORD: Not at all. MITCHELL: Were you on any sort of medication?
MITCHELL: Do you recall knowing before you went who was going to be at that gathering?
FORD: I recall that -- expecting that Mark Judge and Leland would be at that gathering.
Do you recall an expectation that Brett Kavanaugh would be there?
FORD: I don't recall whether or not I expected that.
Now let's talk about the gathering up from the time you arrived until right when you went up the stairs, just that period of time, OK?
What was the atmosphere like at the gathering?
FORD: Mr. Kavanaugh and Mr. Judge were extremely inebriated, they had clearly been drinking prior. And the other people at the party were not. The living room was...
MITCHELL: Can I ask you just to follow up on that?
When you said it was clear that they had been drinking prior, do you mean prior to the time you had gotten there or prior to the time they had arrived?
FORD: Prior to the time that they arrived. I don't recall who arrived first, though, whether it was me or them.
MITCHELL: OK, please continue.
So I recall that the -- I could -- I can sketch a floor plan. I recall that it was a sparsely furnished, fairly modest living room.
And it was not really a party like the news has made it sound. It was not. It was just a gathering that I assumed was going to lead to a party later on that those boys would attend, because they tended to have parties later at night than I was allowed to stay out.
So it was kind of a pre-gathering.
MITCHELL: Was it loud?
FORD: No, not in the living room.
MITCHELL: Besides the music that you've described that was playing in the bedroom, was there any other music or television or anything like that that was adding?
MITCHELL: OK. So there wasn't a stereo playing downstairs?
GRASSLEY: Senator Leahy?
LEAHY: Dr. Ford, thank you for being here.
Mr. Chairman, you know, the -- the way to make this inquiry truly credible is to do what we've always done when new information about a nominee comes to light. To use your words this morning, you want to reach the truth. The easy way to do that: ask the FBI to investigate. This is what we've always done. Let them investigate, report back to us. The same applies to the serious allegations made by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
Let's have a nonpartisan, professional investigation and then take the time to have these witnesses testify.
Chairman, you and I were both here 27 years ago. At that time, the Senate failed Anita Hill. I said I believed her.
But I'm concerned that we're doing a lot less for these three women today. That's my personal view.
LEAHY: Dr. Ford, no matter what happens with this hearing today, no matter what happens to this nomination, I know, and I hear from so many in my own state of Vermont, there are millions of victims and survivors out there who have been inspired by your courage. I am.
Bravery is contagious. Indeed, that's the driving force behind the MeToo movement. And you sharing your story is going to have a lasting, positive impact on so many survivors in our country. We owe you a debt of gratitude for that, Doctor.
Now, some senators have suggested you were simply mixed up about who assaulted you. An ally of Judge Kavanaugh in the White House even promoted a wild theory about a Kavanaugh look-alike. You immediately rejected that theory, as did the innocent man who'd been called that look-alike. In fact, he sent a letter to this committee forcefully rejecting this absurd theory.
I ask consent to enter that in the record.
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
LEAHY: Now, how did you know Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge? And is it possible that you had mixed them up with somebody else?
FORD: No, it is not.
And the person that was blamed for the incident is actually the person who introduced me to them originally. So he was a member of Columbia Country Club. And I don't want to talk about him because I think it's unfair, but he is the person that -- that introduced me to them.
LEAHY: But you -- you would not mix up somebody else with Brett Kavanaugh, is that correct?
LEAHY: Or Mark Judge.
LEAHY: Well, then, let's go back to the incident.
What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget? Take whatever time you need.
FORD: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laugh -- the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.
LEAHY: You've never forgotten that laughter. You've never forgotten them laughing at you.
FORD: They were laughing with each other.
LEAHY: And you were the object of the laughter?
FORD: I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed, two friend -- two friends having a really good time with one another.
LEAHY: Let me enter into the record a statement by the National Task Force to End Domestic Violence...
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
LEAHY: ... and a letter from 24 members of the House of Representatives, urging the committee to use the NTF's trauma-informed approach in questioning Dr. Ford...
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
LEAHY: ... and a letter from another 116 members of the House asking to delay until all this has been heard.
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
LEAHY: And Dr. Ford has at times been criticized for what she doesn't remember from 36 years ago. But we have numerous experts, including a study by the U.S. Army Military Police School of Behavioral Sciences Education, that lapses of memory are wholly consistent with severe trauma and stressful assault. And I'd ask consent that be entered. GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
LEAHY: And, Dr. Ford, I'd just conclude with this: You do remember what happened, do you not?
FORD: Very much so.
LEAHY: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: Now, Ms. Mitchell for Senator Graham.
And then it's my understanding that -- that that's where you'd like to take a break.
FORD: Does that work for you? Does that work for you, as well?
GRASSLEY: Well, we -- we're here to accommodate you...
FORD: Oh, thank you.
GRASSLEY: ... not you accommodate us.
FORD: I -- I -- I'm used to being collegial, so.
GRASSLEY: OK, go ahead.
Ms. Mitchell, for Senator Graham.
MITCHELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You told Senator Feinstein in your letter that you and four others were present. You've corrected that today to say it was at least four others.
When you were interviewed by The Washington Post, you said that there were four boys present at the party. And then in your polygraph statement, you said there were four boys and two girls.
When you say "two girls," was that you and another or was that two other girls?
FORD: That was me and one other girl.
MITCHELL: And that other girl's name?
MITCHELL: Leland Keyser now?
FORD: Correct. MITCHELL: OK.
So then would it be fair to say at least P.J., Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, Leland Ingham -- at the time -- and yourself were present, and possibly others?
FORD: And one -- one other boy. So there were four -- there were four boys. I just don't know the name of the other boy, so.
MITCHELL: Have you been contacted by anybody saying, "Hey, I was at that party, too"?
FORD: No, I haven't talked with anyone from that party.
Now, you've -- you've been detailed about what happened once you got up the stairs. And so, I don't need to go through that again.
MITCHELL: I'm sorry, go ahead.
FORD: You know, oh wait, I'm sorry.
I just realized that I said something that was inaccurate. I said I hadn't spoken with anyone from the party since that. I have spoken with Leland.
MITCHELL: OK. Thank you for correcting that. I appreciate that.
FORD: Yes, thank you.
MITCHELL: You've gone into detail about what happened once you went up the stairs. So I don't feel like it's necessary to go over those things again.
FORD: Thank you.
MITCHELL: Have you told us everything that you do remember about it?
FORD: I believe so. But if there are other questions I will -- I can attempt to answer them.
You said that the music was solely coming from that room, is that correct?
MITCHELL: OK. And it was turned up once the three of you were inside that room, is that correct?
At some point, do you recall it being turned down?
FORD: I don't remember if it was turned down once I was leaving the house. I don't remember.
FORD: Likely, since I could hear them walking down the stairs very clearly from the bathroom.
And the bathroom was...
FORD: I'm sorry (ph).
MITCHELL: ... door was closed when you heard this, is that correct?
FORD: I could hear them very clearly hitting the walls...
FORD: ... going down the stairwell.
MITCHELL: In fact, in your letter, you said that they went down the stairs and they were talking with other people...
MITCHELL: ... in the house.
MITCHELL: Were you able to hear that conversation?
FORD: I was not able to hear that conversation. But I was aware that they were downstairs and that I would have to walk past them to get out of the house.
Now, let me make sure we're on the same page. Were you not able to hear the conversation, or not able to understand the conversation?
FORD: I couldn't hear the conversation. I was upstairs.
How do you know there was a conversation? FORD: I'm just assuming, since it was a social gathering, people were talking. I don't know.
In your letter, you...
FORD: I could hear them talking as they went down the stairwell, they were laughing, and...
In your letter you wrote, "Both loudly stumbled down the stairwell, at which point other persons at the house were talking with them." Does that ring a bell?
FORD: Yes. I had to walk past everyone to leave the house, so...
FORD: I'm not...
MITCHELL: In your letter...
FORD: Maybe I'm not understanding. I'm sorry.
(CORRECTED COPY -- CORRECTS PARAGRAPH 17 BELOW)
Your next sentence -- let me try to clarify this. After you said "other persons at the house were talking with them," the letter goes on with the very next sentence, "I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home."
You said that you do not remember how you got home, is that correct?
FORD: I do not remember...
FORD: ... other than I did not drive home.
I'm going to show you, if somebody could provide to you, a map of the various peoples' houses at the time. And if you could verify that this is where you were living at the time.
FORD: Where I was living at the time? MITCHELL: Yes.
FORD: OK. OK.
HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, do we have a copy of these documents?
GRASSLEY: You do not have a copy (OFF-MIKE) you want one, we can get you one.
HARRIS: Yes, before the questions begin, so we can follow the testimony.
(CORRECTED COPY - CORRECTS "BY" to "MY")
GRASSLEY: OK. My staff says that we should not provide the copy.
(UNKNOWN): No, we will provide the copy.
(UNKNOWN): Will provide the copy.
GRASSLEY: Well, speak plainly with me, please.
HARRIS: Sure. I'd like to see what she's looking at.
You have another 30 seconds now because I was rudely interrupted.
Mr. Chairman, Senator Harris, we do have a -- a blown-up copy of this for the members to view, if that's helpful.
FORD: OK, I'm going to put check marks next to homes that I can confirm are the correct locations, and then an X or a question mark when I don't know where these people live.
MITCHELL: I'm only asking you to confirm if that map accurately shows where you were living at the time.
FORD: Where I lived at the time.
So I can't see the street name, but I'm happy to refer to the address or the neighborhood.
MITCHELL: OK, could you tell us that?
FORD: Yes. It's River Falls.
MITCHELL: OK. FORD: It's near the -- like -- what is the place called? The Naval Research Center on Clara Barton Parkway.
MITCHELL: OK, was that a house or an apartment?
FORD: It was my parents' home.
MITCHELL: All right. OK.
GRASSLEY: Senator Durbin?
DURBIN: Mr. Chairman, I ask consent to enter into the record letters of support for Dr. Ford from her classmates at Holton-Arms school, 1,200 alumni of the school, 195 of your colleagues, students and mentors, 1,400 women who -- and men who attended D.C. schools, and 50 members of the Yale Law School faculty who are calling for a full FBI investigation. I ask consent to enter these into the record.
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
DURBIN: Dr. Ford, as difficult as this experience must be, I want you to know your courage in coming forward has given countless Americans the strength to face their own life-shattering past and to begin to heal their wounds. By example, you have brought many families into an honest and sometimes painful dialogue that should have occurred a long time ago.
I'm sorry for what this has done to you and your family. No one, no one should face harassment, death threats and disparaging comments by cheap-shot politicians simply for telling the truth.
But you and your family should know that for every scurrilous charge and every pathetic tweet, there have been thousands of Americans, women and men, who believe you, support you and thank you for your courage.
Watching your experience, it's no wonder that many sexual assault survivors hide their past and spend their lives suffering in pained silence.
You had absolutely nothing to gain by bringing these facts to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The fact that you are testifying here today, terrified though you may be, the fact that you have called for an FBI investigation of this incident, the fact that you are prepared to name both Judge Kavanaugh and eyewitness Mark Judge stands in sharp contrast to the obstruction we've seen on the other side.
DURBIN: The FBI should have investigated your charges as they did in the Anita Hill hearing, but they did not. Mark Judge should be subpoenaed from his Bethany Beach hideaway and required to testify under oath, but he has not. Judge Kavanaugh, if he truly believes there is no evidence, no witnesses that can prove your case, should be joining us in demanding a thorough FBI investigation, but he is not.
Today, you come before this committee and before this nation alone. I know you're joined by counsel and family.
The prosecutor on the Republican side will continue to ask questions to test your memory and veracity. After spending decades trying to forget that awful night, it's no wonder your recollection is less than perfect.
A polished liar can create a seamless story, but a trauma survivor cannot be expected to remember every painful detail. That's what Senator Leahy has mentioned earlier.
One question is critical. In Judge Kavanaugh's opening testimony, which we will hear after you leave, this is what he says: "I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time."
Last night, the Republican staff of this committee released to the media a timeline that shows that they've interviewed two people who claimed they were the ones who actually assaulted you. I'm asking you to address this new defense of mistaken identity directly.
Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?
FORD: One hundred percent.
DURBIN: One hundred percent.
In the letter which you sent to Dr. -- or, Senator Feinstein you wrote, "I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see Mark Judge once at the Potomac Village Safeway where he was extremely uncomfortable in seeing me."
Would you please describe that encounter at the Safeway with Mark Judge and what led you to believe he was uncomfortable?
I was going to the Potomac Village Safeway -- this is the one on the corner of Falls and River Road -- and I was with my mother. And I was a teenager, so I wanted her to go in one door and me go in the other.
So I chose the wrong door, because the door I chose was the one where Mark Judge was -- looked like he was working there and arranging the shopping carts. And I said "Hello" to him. And his face was white and very uncomfortable saying "Hello" back.
And we had previously been friendly at the times that we saw each other over the previous two years. Albeit not very many times, we had always been friendly with one another.
I wouldn't characterize him as not friendly. He was just nervous and not really wanting to speak with me.
DURBIN: How long...
FORD: And he -- he looked a little bit ill.
DURBIN: How long did this occur after the incident?
FORD: I would estimate six to eight weeks.
DURBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: Before we take a break, I can't let what Durbin -- Senator Durbin said -- by the way, he's my friend; we work on a lot of legislation together.
But you talked about the obstruction from the other side.
I cannot let it go by what you've heard me say so many times, that between July 30th and September 13th, there were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation and her privacy would have been producted -- protected. So something happened here in between, on your side, that the whole country -- well, not the whole country should have known about it -- no, not know about it. We should have investigated it.
We'll take a break now for 15 minutes.
WOLF BLITZER: CNN ANCHOR: Very powerful testimony today from Dr. Ford.
Let's get some immediate reaction.
Gloria, it was pretty stunning.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLTICAL ANALYST: Well, it was stunning. It was credible. At times, it was clear to me she could not get through the testimony. To me, when I think it was Senator Leahy asked her, what was the most indelible moment, and she talked about, "Indelible is the uproarious laughter between the two, they're having fun at my expense. Laughing with each other, and I was underneath one of them while the two laughed." It was a memory that couldn't have been clearer, to me. And when she was asked about the certainty of her memory, about degree of certainty about Judge Kavanaugh and to address the question of mistaken identity by Senator Durbin, she didn't pause at all and said "100 percent."
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: At some point, Joan, I imagine, as the author of an upcoming biography of Chief Justice John Roberts, I can't imagine John Roberts thinking this is good for the Supreme Court, that somebody who has a credible accuser saying this about him ultimately is good for the legacy of the court. I mean, there might be people who believe Kavanaugh and don't believe Professor ford, but her testimony was compelling. And there's a bigger issue here at play than just whether or not Brett Kavanaugh gets on the court.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, the chief has been very worried about the taint from something like this going to the full court. And interestingly, Jake, he's not just aware of what this will do to the institution, he actually knows this whole world. He knows Brett Kavanaugh from way back. He actually knows the suburban Maryland party scene. He's got two children who are out of high school now, one out of high school, one going to college. I think this is going to resonate in many ways to the justices on the Supreme Court while they worry institutionally.
I felt we got an answer here that I was sort of puzzled about beyond the personal tale.