Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the early 1980s, began her testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here’s what you need to know
The Republicans brought in Rachel Mitchell, an outside prosecutor who specializes in handling cases involving sex-related crimes. Republican senators deferred their time to Mitchell, so that she could question Ford. Meanwhile, Democrats questioned Ford on their own.
Mitchell asked Ford about specific details regarding both the incident, and the point at which she came forward.
The flight questions
In one of the more remarkable moments in the line of questioning from Mitchell, Ford seemed to say that she had not been informed that Senate Republicans had offered to come to her in California, rather than requiring her to fly to Washington D.C.
Ford had previously expressed a fear of flying, which she said was based on claustrophobia caused by the alleged assault. Ford said that she had finally been “able to get up the gumption” to fly to D.C., but that this fear had caused her initial unwillingness to speak before the committee.
“I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request,” Ford said.
Mitchell questioned Ford about her frequent travels to places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Pacific Islands, and Polynesia, which supporters of Kavanaugh had used to cast doubt on her stated unwillingness to fly. Ford testified that it was easier to make these trips when she was heading to something more enjoyable like a vacation.
After giving Sen. Amy Klobuchar time to speak, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Ford if she was aware that he had been willing to send people to talk to her in California.
“Dr. Ford,” Grassley said, “I want to correct the record, but it’s not something that I’m saying that you stated wrongly because you might not know the fact that 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 have done it anywhere or anytime.”
Ford thanked Grassley, but seemed to be unaware of this fact.
In a letter sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) dated Sept. 19, Grassley said that he had extended an offer to Ford to send people to California to interview Ford there. This letter was posted on Grassley’s website the same day. Grassley wrote:
I recognize that testifying publicly about sexual assault allegations may be difficult for Dr. Ford, so I have offered her the opportunity to testify in any of four possible venues: (1) a public hearing; (2) a private hearing; (3) a public staff interview; or (4) a private staff interview. I am even willing to have my staff travel to Dr. Ford in California—or anywhere else—to obtain her testimony.
Mitchell also tried to get Ford to clarify other details, including how she got to the party, how she got home from the party, when she first contacted the media and her congressional representative, and the circumstances under which she took her polygraph test.
With only a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans will need to make sure that no members of their own party decide to vote against Kavanaugh or abstain.