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Christine Blasey Ford Testifies on Brett Kavanaugh Allegations. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired September 27, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IA.: You go through a background investigation by the FBI, then it comes to us and there's always some holes in it that we have to follow-up on. And besides...
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MN: Mr. Chairman...
GRASSLEY: ... we're responding to Dr. Ford's request to tell her story, that's why we're here.
KLOBUCHAR: ... Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman...
GRASSLEY: ... Ms. Mitchell, go for Senator...
KLOBUCHAR: ... Mr. Chairman, I just want to point out that -- to support what Senator Whitehouse said, in the Anita Hill case...
SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-IL?: Can we hear from Dr. -- Dr. Ford?
KLOBUCHAR: ... George Bush ordered that the investigation be opened again.
GRASSLEY: Ms. Mitchell, will you proceed for -- for Senator Lee?
RACHEL MITCHELL, STAFF COUNSEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Ford, The Washington Post reported in their September 16th article that you did show them therapist notes. Is that incorrect?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: I don't remember physically showing her a note.
FORD: Perhaps my counsel did. I don't -- I don't remember physically showing her my copy of the note.
FORD: But I -- I just don't remember. I'm sorry. I have retrieved a physical copy of those medical records.
MITCHELL: OK, thank you. You also attended individual therapy. Did you show any of those notes to the reporter from The Washington Post?
FORD: Again, I don't remember if I showed her -- like, something that I summarized, or if I just spoke about it or if she saw it in my counsel's office. I can't -- I -- I don't know for sure, but I certainly spoke with her about the 2013 record with the individual therapist.
MITCHELL: And Brett Kavanaugh's name is not in those notes, is that correct?
MITCHELL: OK. In reading The Washington Post article, it mentions that this incident that we're here about contributed to anxiety and PTSD problems with which you have struggled. The word contributed, does that mean that there are other things that have happened that have also contributed to anxiety and PTSD?
FORD: I think that's a great question. I think the etiology if anxiety and PTSD is multifactorial. So that was certainly a critical risk -- risk that -- we would call a risk factor in science, so that would be a predictor of the symptoms that I now have.
It doesn't mean that other things that have happened in my life would have -- would make it worse or better. There are other risk factors as well.
MITCHELL: So have there been other things, then, that have contributed to the anxiety and PTSD that you suffered?
FORD: Well, I think there's, sort of, biological predispositions that everyone in here has for particular disorders. So I can't rule out that I would have some biological predisposition to be, you know...
MITCHELL: What about...
FORD: ... an anxious type person.
MITCHELL: ... what about environmental?
FORD: Environmentally, not that I can think of.
FORD: Certainly, no -- nothing as striking as that event.
MITCHELL: OK. In your interview with The Washington Post, you said that you told your husband early in your marriage that you had been a victim of, and I quote, "physical abuse." In your statement, you said that before you were married, you told him that you had experienced, quote, "a sexual assault." Do these two things refer to the same incident?
MITCHELL: And at either point on these two times, did you use any names?
FORD: No. MITCHELL: OK.
May I ask, Dr. Ford, how did you get to Washington?
FORD: In an airplane.
MITCHELL: OK. It's -- I ask that, because it's been reported by the press that you would not submit to an interview with the committee because of your fear of flying. Is -- is that true?
FORD: Well, I was willing -- I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request.
MITCHELL: It would've been a quicker trip for me.
FORD: Yes. So that was certainly what I was hoping, was to avoid having to get on an airplane, but I eventually was able to get up the gumption with the help of some friends, and get on the plane.
MITCHELL: OK (ph). When you were here in the mid -- mid-Atlantic area back in August, end of July, August, how did you get here?
FORD: Also by airplane. I come here once a year during the summer to visit my family.
FORD: I'm sorry, not here. I go to Delaware.
MITCHELL: OK. In fact, you fly fairly frequently for your hobbies and your -- you've had to fly for your work. Is that true?
FORD: Correct, unfortunately.
[12:05:00] MITCHELL: You -- you were a consulting biostatistician in Sydney, Australia. Is that right?
FORD: I've never been to Australia, but the company that I worked for is based in Australia, and they have an office in San Francisco, California.
FORD: I -- I don't think I'll make it to Australia.
MITCHELL: It is long.
I also saw on your C.V. that you list the following interests of surf travel, and you, in parentheses" Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Pacific islands and French Polynesia." Have you been all to those places?
MITCHELL: By airplane?
FORD: Yes. MITCHELL: And your interests also include oceanography, Hawaiian and Tahitian culture. Did you travel by air as a part of those interests?
MITCHELL: All right. Thank you very much.
FORD: Easier for me to travel going that direction when it's a vacation.
GRASSLEY: (OFF MIKE) Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here, Dr. Ford.
You know, in my old job as a prosecutor, we investigated reports like this, so it gave me a window on the types of cases that hurt women and hurt all of us. And I would always tell the women that came before us that they were going to have to tell their story before a jury box of strangers. And you've had to tell your story before the entire nation.
For so many years, people swept cases like yours under the rug. They'd say what happens inside a house didn't belong in the courthouse. Well, the times have changed, so I just want to thank you for coming forward today, and for sharing your report with us.
Now, I understand that you've taken a polygraph test, Dr. Ford, that found that you were being truthful when you described what happened to you. Can you tell us why you decided to take that test?
FORD: I was meeting with attorneys. I was interviewing various attorneys, and the attorneys I asked if I was willing to take it, and I said absolutely. That said, it was almost as anxiety-provoking as an airplane flight.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. And you've talked about your recollections, and seeing Mark Judge at that Safeway. If there had been an appropriate reopening of this background check and FBI interviews, would that help you find the time period, if you knew when he worked at that Safeway?
FORD: I feel like I could be much more helpful if I could be provided with that date through employment records or the IRS or something, any - anything that would help.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. I would assume that's true.
Dr. Ford, under federal law -- and I don't expect you to know this, but statements made to medical professionals are considered to be more reliable. There's a federal rule of evidence about this. You told your counselor about this back in 2012, is that right?
FORD: My therapist?
FORD: My individual therapist. Correct. KLOBUCHAR: Right and I understand that your husband was also present when you spoke about this incident in front of a counselor and he recalls you using Judge Kavanaugh's name. Is that right?
FORD: Yes, I just have to slow down a minute because I might have been confusing. So there were two separate incidents...
FORD: ...where it's reflected in my medical record. I had talked about it more than those two times, but therapists don't typically write down content as much as they write down process. They usually are tracking your symptoms and not your story and the facts.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Right.
FORD: I just happen to have it in my record twice. So the first time is in 2012 with my husband in couples therapy with the quibbling over the remodel, and then in 2013 with my individual therapist.
KLOBUCHAR: OK, so if -- if someone had actually done an investigation your husband would have been able to say that you named his name at that time?
KLOBUCHAR: OK. I know you've been concerned...
KLOBUCHAR: ...with your privacy throughout the process, and you first requested that your account be kept confidential. Can you briefly tell us why?
FORD: Yes. So as I stated before, once -- I was unsuccessful in getting my information to you before the candidate was chosen. My original intent was to get the information when there was still a list of other candidates available. And once that was not successful and I saw that persons were very supportive of the nominee, I tracked it...
FORD: ...all summer and realized that when I was calculating that risk-benefit ratio that it looked like I was going to just, you know, suffer only for no reason.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. You know from my experience with memory, I remember distinctly things that happened to me in high school or happened to me in college.
KLOBUCHAR: But I don't exactly remember the date. I don't exactly remember the time. I sometimes may not even remember the exact place where it occurred, but I remember the interaction.
And many people are focused today on what you're not able to remember about that night. I actually think you remember a lot. I'm going to phrase it a little differently: can you tell us what you don't forget about that night?
FORD: The stairwell, the living room, the bedroom, the bed on the right side of the room as you walk into the room. There was a bed to the right. The bathroom in close proximity, the laughter, the uproarious laughter, and the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much Dr. Ford.
GRASSLEY: Dr. Ford. I'm going to correct the record but it's not something that I'm saying that you stated wrongly because you may not know the fact that when - when you said that you didn't think it was possible for us to go to California as a committee or our investigators to go to California to talk to you, we did, in fact, offer that to you and we had the capability of doing it and we would've done it anywhere or anytime.
FORD: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: And Mr. Chairman, could I put the polygraph results on the record, please? The polygraph results in the record.
KLOBUCHAR: Is there any objection?
GRASSLEY: Oh, or -- let us see the chart.
KLOBUCHAR: The polygraph? You want to all see it?
GRASSLEY: Will you hold just a minute, please?
KLOBUCHAR: I think you may have it.
GRASSLEY: Yes, can we have the underlying charts, too?
KLOBUCHAR: The underlying charts? I have the polygraph results that I would just like to put in the record. I'll -- I'll deal with the charts after that. Could I put the polygraph tests in the record?
BROMWICH: Mr. Chairman, we were -- we had proposed having the polygraph examiner testify, as you know. If that had happened, the full panoply of materials that he had supporting his examination would have been provided. You rejected that request, so what we did provide was the polygraph report, which is what the members of the committee currently have.
KLOBUCHAR: And on September 26th, Mr. Chairman, this was actually sent to your chief counsel. And I just want to share with America so that they have this report as well. GRASSLEY: OK. We will accept, without objection, what you asked us to
include but we're also requesting and expect the other materials that I've just stated.
KLOBUCHAR: But Mr. Chairman, you wouldn't allow the underlying witness who performed the polygraph test to testify, nor would you allow Mark Judge to testify. And so I would just like to point out -- thank you for allowing this report in the record, but that is the reason that we don't have the underlying information for you.
GRASSLEY: You got what you wanted, I think you'd be satisfied.
BROMWICH: Mr. Chairman...
KLOBUCHAR: I am satisfied with that. Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Senator -- go ahead.
GRAHAM: When was the polygraph administered?
KLOBUCHAR: It was administered on August the 7th...
GRAHAM: When was...
KLOBUCHAR: ...in 2018 and it was -- the date of the report is August 10, 2018, Mr. Graham.
GRAHAM: When was it provided to the committee?
GRASSLEY: Let's just see if we can't do this in a more orderly way. Let's...
KLOBUCHAR: Well, it was -- I was -- he was asking and I have it right here and you have it as well. It was...
GRASSLEY: We've accepted...
KLOBUCHAR: ...September 26th.
GRASSLEY: We've accepted it.
KLOBUCHAR: All right.
GRASSLEY: Ms. Mitchell for Senator Cruz.
MITCHELL: Thank you. Dr. Ford, we've talked about the day and the night that you've described in the summer of 1982. And thank you for being willing to do that. I know it's difficult. I'd like to shift gears and discuss the last several months.
MITCHELL: In your statement, you said that on July 6th, you had a, quote, "sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the president." Did you contact either the Senate or the president on or before July 6th? FORD: No, I did not. I did not know how to do that.
MITCHELL: OK. Prior to July 6th, had you spoken to any member of Congress? And when I say Congress, I mean the Senate or the House of Representatives or any congressional staff members about your allegations?
MITCHELL: Why did you contact the Washington Post, then, on July 6th?
[12:15:00] FORD: So, I was panicking because I knew the timeline was short for the decision and people were giving me advice on the beach. People who don't know about the processes, but they were giving me advice.
And many people told me, "You need to hire a lawyer," and I didn't do that. I didn't understand why I would need a lawyer. Somebody said, "Call the New York Times, call the Washington Post, put in an anonymous tip, go to your congressperson."
And when I weighed those options, I felt like the best option was to try to do the civic route which is to go to my congressperson, who happens to be Anna Eshoo. So I called her office and I also put in the anonymous tip to The Washington Post. And neither -- unfortunately, neither got back to me in -- before the selection of the nominee.
MITCHELL: You testified that Congresswoman Eshoo's office contacted you on July 9th, is that right?
FORD: They contacted me the date that the nominee was announced, so that seems likely what...
MITCHELL: Had you talked to -- about your allegations with anyone in her office before the date of July 9th?
FORD: I told the receptionist on the phone.
MITCHELL: OK. On July 10th, you texted The Washington Post again, which was really the third time, is that right? Second date, third time.
FORD: Let's see.
(UNKNOWN): (OFF-MIKE) One moment.
MITCHELL: And you texted -- been advised to contact senators or New York Times, haven't heard back from Washington Post. Who...
MITCHELL: ... advised you to contact senators or The New York Times?
FORD: Beach friends... MITCHELL: OK.
FORD: ... coming up with ideas of how I could try to get to people because people weren't responding to me very quickly. So very quickly, they responded to that text for what -- unknown reason that once I sent that encrypted text, they responded very quickly.
MITCHELL: Did you contact The New York Times?
MITCHELL: OK. Why not?
FORD: I wasn't interested in pursuing the media route, particularly. So I felt like one was enough, The Washington Post, and I was nervous about doing that. My preference was to talk with my congressperson.
MITCHELL: OK. The Washington Post texted back that someone would get in touch -- get you in touch with a reporter. Did you subsequently talk to a reporter with The Washington Post?
FORD: Yes, under the encrypted app and off the record.
MITCHELL: OK. Who was that reporter?
FORD: Emma Brown.
MITCHELL: OK. The person who ultimately wrote the story on September 16th?
MITCHELL: OK. Did you talk to any member of Congress -- and, again, remember Congress includes the Senate, or the House of Representatives or any congressional staff members -- about your allegations between July 10th and the July -- and July 30th, which was the date of your letter to Senator Feinstein?
FORD: Yes, I met with Congresswoman Eshoo's staff. And I think that's July 18th, the Wednesday, and then on the Friday I met with the congresswoman herself.
MITCHELL: OK. When you met with her, did you meet with her alone or did someone come with you?
FORD: I was alone. She had a staff person.
MITCHELL: OK. What did you talk about with Congresswoman Eshoo and her staff on July 18th and the 20th?
FORD: I described the night of the incident and we spent time speaking about that. And I asked her how to -- what my options were in terms of going forward and how to get that information relayed forward. And I also talked to her about fears of whether this was confidential information. And she talked about the constituent confidentiality principle. MITCHELL: Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Senator Coons.
COONS: Thank you, Chairman Grassley. I'd like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record five articles, including one titled "Why Sexual Assault Memories Stick," and one entitled "Why Didn't Kavanaugh Accuser Come Forward Earlier? Police Often Ignore Sexual Assault Allegations."
GRASSLEY: Without objection, so ordered.
COONS: Dr. Ford, I want to begin by thanking you for coming to testify in front of us today. You came forward with very serious and relevant information about a nominee for a lifetime position on our Supreme Court. You didn't have to, and I know you've done it at great personal cost. This is a public service, and I want you to know that I'm grateful to have the opportunity to hear from you directly today.
[12:20:00] I'd like to just first follow up on that line of questioning Ms. Mitchell was following, because I think a lot of people don't realize that you chose to come forward with your concerns about Judge Kavanaugh before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Do I understand correctly that when you -- when you first reached out to Congresswoman Eshoo and to the Washington Post tip line, that was when he was on the short list, but before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Is that correct?
COONS: And if I understood your testimony earlier, it's that you were motivated by a sense of civic duty, and -- and frankly, a hope that some other highly-qualified nominee might be picked, not out of a motivation at a late stage to have an impact on the final decision.
FORD: Correct. I thought it was very important to get the information to you, but I didn't know how to do it while there was still a short list of candidates.
COONS: Thank you, Doctor.
According to Justice Department data, about two thirds of sexual assault survivors don't report their assaults. Based on your experience, I'd be interested in hearing from you about this, because you bore this alone. You bore this alone for a very long time, and it'd be helpful for us to better understand the ways that that's impacted your whole life.
FORD: Well, it's -- it's impacted me at different stages of the development of my life. So the immediate impact was probably the worst, so the first four years. I think I described earlier a fairly disastrous first two years of undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina, where I was finally able to pull myself together. And then, once coping with -- with the immediate impacts, the short-term impacts, I experienced, like, longer-term impacts of anxiety and relationship challenges. COONS: Thank you for sharing that. And -- and yet, you went on to get
a PhD from USC. Is that correct?
COONS: As you predicted, there was a wide range of responses to your coming forward. Some thousands of survivors have been motivated and inspired by your courage; others have been critical. And as I've reviewed the wide range of reactions, I've been really troubled by the excuse offered by too many, that this was a high school incident, and boys will be boys. To me, that's just far too low a standard for the conduct of boys and men in our country. If you would, I'd appreciate your reaction to the excuse that boys will be boys.
FORD: I can only speak for how it has impacted me greatly for the last 36 years, even though I was 15 years old at the time. And I think, you know, the younger you are when these things happen, it could possibly have worse impact than when you're a full -- when your brain is fully- developed, and you have better coping skills that you've developed.
COONS: You know, experts have written about how it's common for sexual assault survivors to remember some facts about the experience very sharply and very clearly, but not others, and that has to do with the survival mode that we go into in experiencing trauma. Is that your experience, and is that something you can help the layperson understand? FORD: Yes. I was definitely experiencing the fight-or- flight mode; is that what you're referring to? Yes.
So I was definitely experiencing the surge of adrenaline and cortisol and norepinephrine and -- credit that a little bit for my ability to get out of the situation.
But also some other lucky events that occurred. That...
FORD: ...allowed me to get out of the event.
COONS: Dr. Ford, we are grateful that you came through it and that you shared your account with us and the American people. And I think you've provided important information. I'd like to thank you for your -- meeting your civic duty.
I wish we could have provided for you a more thorough hearing today. I think asking for the FBI to investigate this matter thoroughly was not asking too much. I think asking to have the other individual involved in your assault, Mark Judge, appear before us today was not asking too much.
I'm grateful you came forward, and I'm thankful for your courage, which set an important example. Thank you, Dr. Ford.
GRASSLEY: Ms. Mitchell, for Senator Sasse.
MITCHELL: Dr. Ford, we were talking about you meeting in July with Congresswoman Eshoo. FORD: Yes.
MITCHELL: Did you talk about your allegations with any Republican member of Congress or congressional staff?
FORD: I did not. Where I live, the congresswoman is a Democrat.
Was it communicated to you by your counsel or someone else, that the committee had asked to interview you and that -- that they offered to come out to California to do so?
BROMWICH: We're going to object, Mr. Chairman, to any call for privileged conversations between counsel and Dr. Ford. It's a privileged conversation...
GRASSLEY: Would -- could -- could we -- could you validate the fact that the offer was made without her saying a word?
GRASSLEY: Is it possible for that question to be answered without violating any counsel relationships?
FORD: Can I say something to you -- do you mind if I say something to you directly?
FORD: I just appreciate that you did offer that. I wasn't clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you -- had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not -- it wasn't clear to me that that was the case.
GRASSLEY: OK. Does that take care of your question?
MITCHELL: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: OK. Proceed, then.
MITCHELL: Before July 30th, the date on your letter to Senator Feinstein, had you retained counsel with regard to these allegations?
FORD: No. I didn't think -- I didn't understand why I would need lawyers, actually. That's what -- I just didn't know.
MITCHELL: A lot of people have that feeling.
Let's talk about the letter that you wrote on July 30th. You asked Senator Feinstein to main (ph) confidentiality, quote, "until"...
BROMWICH: Wait -- wait until she retrieves it.
MITCHELL: Oh, I'm sorry.
FORD: OK. I'm just trying to look for it, which one?
BROMWICH: I think it's -- I think it's the (inaudible).
GRASSLEY: Stop the clock, will you?
BROMWICH: It's in there someplace.
Here we go...
FORD: Oh, I found it.
BROMWICH: ...here it is. You've got it.
MITCHELL: OK. You asked Senator Feinstein to maintain confidentiality "until we have had further opportunity to speak," and then said you were available to speak further vacationing in the Mid-Atlantic until August 7th. Is that correct?
FORD: The last line, is that what you're -- I'm -- I'm now just catching up with you, sorry. I'm a little slower. My mind is getting a little tired.
"I am available to speak further, should you wish to discuss. I am" -- yes, I was in Delaware until August 7.
FORD: And after that, I went to New Hampshire and then back to California.
MITCHELL: Did you talk with anybody about this letter before you sent it?
FORD: I talked with Anna Eshoo's office.
MITCHELL: OK. And why did you talk to Congresswoman Eshoo's office about that letter?
FORD: Because they were willing to hand-deliver it to Senator Feinstein.
MITCHELL: OK. Did anyone help you write the letter?
MITCHELL: OK. After you sent your letter, did you or anyone on your behalf speak to Senator Feinstein personally or with any Senate staffer?
FORD: I had a phone call with Senator Feinstein.
MITCHELL: OK. And when was that?
FORD: That was while I was still in Delaware, so before August 7th.
MITCHELL: OK. And how many times did you speak with Senator Feinstein?
MITCHELL: OK. What did you talk about?
FORD: She asked me some questions about the incident.
FORD: And I answered those questions.
MITCHELL: OK. Was that the extent of -- the gist of the conversation?
FORD: Yes, it was a fairly brief phone -- phone call.
MITCHELL: OK. Did you ever give Senator Feinstein or anyone else the permission to release that letter?
FORD: Not that I know of, no.
MITCHELL: OK. Between the letter date, July 30th and August the 7th, did you speak with any other person about your allegations?
FORD: Could you say the dates again?
MITCHELL: Between the letter date of July 30 and August 7 -- so, while you were still in Delaware -- did you speak with any other person about your allegations?
FORD: I'm just trying to remember what dates that.
GRASSLEY: Stop the...
(UNKNOWN): You're asking her...
GRASSLEY: ... Yes, stop the -- stop the clock.
(UNKNOWN): ... with the exclusion of any lawyers that she may have spoken with, correct?
FORD: Correct -- I think correct, then. I was interviewing lawyers...
GRASSLEY: Stop the clock.
FORD: ... but I was not...
FORD: ... speaking personally about it.
MITCHELL: Aside from Lawyers that you were seeking to possibly hire to represent you, did you speak to anybody else about it during that period of time?
FORD: I was staying with my parents at the time.
MITCHELL: Did you talk to them about it?
FORD: Definitely not.
MITCHELL: OK. So would it be fair to say that you retained counsel during that time period of July 30th to August 7th?
FORD: I can't remember the exact date, but it was the -- I was interviewing lawyers during that period of time, sitting in the car in the driveway and in the Walgreens parking lot in Rehoboth, Delaware.