All eyes were on Washington, D.C. Thursday for the dramatic testimonies of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of assaulting her sexually when they attended high school in the early 1980s.
Dr. Ford gave a chilling account of what she said happened to her, choking back tears as the told the Senate Judiciary Committee she was “terrified.” Appearing at turns combative and emotional, Brett Kavanaugh blamed last-minute accusations of sexual assault on “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”
The nearly nine-hour hearing had the country transfixed. At one point all 10 of Twitter’s U.S. trending topics were related to the hearing. Hollywood was also watching, sending messages of support for Dr. Ford.
Here are 16 of the most explosive moments from the hearing.
1. Grassley and Feinstein exchange barbs
The hearing opened with a tense exchange between Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s chairman, and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat.
Grassley criticized Feinstein for waiting to report Ford’s claim after receiving her initial letter detailing her accusations.
“Every step of the way, the Democratic side refused to participate in what should have been a bipartisan investigation,” Grassley said.
Feinstein clapped back at Grassley, telling Ford that “the chairman chose not to do this — but I think it’s appropriate that you’re properly introduced,” before going through Ford’s resume.
2. Ford chokes back tears as she recounts the alleged assault
Dr. Ford gave emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary, detailing her accusation that Judge Kavanaugh tried to rape her while he was drunk at a party during the early 1980s.
“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk,” Ford told senators in her opening statement. “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 screaming. This was what terrified me the most,” she said.
As she recounted the most specific details, Ford became visibly emotional and choked up tears on several occasions.
3. Twitter transfixed
Potentially for the first time in the platform’s history, all of the top 10 trending topics in the United States were dedicated to the same topic during the hearing.
A Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap the company doesn’t keep records going all the way back to its 2006 launch on trending topics. But that “anecdotally, I can say I don’t remember this ever happening before around a single live event.”
4. Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell apologizes to Blasey Ford
Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona sex crimes prosecutor hired by Republicans to represent them during Blasey Ford’s questioning, started her comments by apologizing to her.
“I just wanted to let you know, I’m very sorry,” she told Blasey Ford, referring to her opening statement, in which Blasey Ford said she was “terrified” during the alleged attack.”That’s not right.”
5. “100 Percent”
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, referenced the release by Republicans on Wednesday night of materials that showed they interviewed two other men who claimed they were the ones who assaulted Blasey Ford.
Durbin then asked her to address “this new defense of mistaken identity directly.”
“Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainly, do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” he asked
Blasey Ford leaned into the mic and, without hesitation, said: “100 percent.”
6. “Boys will be boys”
“If you would, I’d appreciate your reaction to the excuse that ‘boys will be boys,’” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons asked Dr. Ford.
“I can only speak for how this has impacted me greatly for the last 36 years even though I was 15 years old at the time,” Ford replied. “I think the younger you are when these things happen, it can possibly have worse impacts than when your brain is fully developed and you have better coping skills than what you’ve developed.”
7. Hollywood stands with Blasey Ford
Hollywood — like almost everyone else on Twitter on Thursday morning — were glued to their screens, and the reaction from celebrities was by and large in support of Ford.
“Dr. Ford, I am in awe of your bravery,” Ellen Degeneres tweeted.
Mira Sorvino — who is one of the many women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct — said she found Ford to be “extremely credible and sympathetic,” and added that “her responses echo many of the feelings and reactions I have had over the years connected to my own sexual violence trauma.”
Meanwhile, actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano attended the hearings as a guest of Sen. Feinstein, and tweeted in support of Ford.
Dr. Ford, I am in awe of your bravery.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 27, 2018
I find Dr. Blasey Ford extremely credible and sympathetic. I find her responses echo many of the feelings and reactions I have had over the years connected to my own sexual violence trauma and the aftermath of speaking out. I applaud her courage. https://t.co/K7HmLJL22l
— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) September 27, 2018
8. Sen. Orrin Hatch calls Dr. Ford an “attractive, good witness”
Asked if he found Ford credible, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said during a break that it was “too early to say. I don’t think she’s un-credible. I think she’s an attractive, good witness. But it’s way early -”
“What do you mean by attractive, sir?” he was asked
“Oh,” he said, pausing. “In other words, she’s pleasing.”
A rep for Hatch told TheWrap: “Hatch uses “attractive” to describe personalities, not appearances. If you search his past quotes you’ll see he’s used it consistently for years for men and women he believed has compelling personalities.”
9. Who paid for the polygraph?
Mitchell asked Ford who paid for her polygraph test, likely in an effort to paint her as a political pawn.
According to a report by The Washington Post, Ford took a polygraph in August at the recommendation of her lawyers. The results found that she was being truthful.
One of Ford’s lawyers, Debra Katz, interjected: “Let me put an end to this mystery. Her lawyers paid for this polygraph.”
“As is routine,” added another one of her attorneys, Michael Bromwich.
Two attorneys representing Dr. Ford said they’re working for her pro bono.
10. Kavanaugh tears up
Kavanaugh began his statement in a defiant tone, but began crying when he talked about his daughter.
“The other night, Ashley and my daughter, Liza, said their prayers,” Kavanaugh said. “And little Liza, all of 10-years-old, said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’”
“It’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old,” Kavanaugh said.
11. Kavanaugh really likes beer
Kavanaugh made frequent mention of his drinking habits in his effort to address Dr. Ford’s accusation that he was “stumbling drunk” when she said he assaulted her.
“I drank beer with my friends, almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers, sometimes others did,” he said at one point. “I liked beer, I still like beer, but I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out and I never sexually assaulted anyone.”
Kavanaugh declined to say how many beers constituted “too much,” but he mentioned enjoying it around least 30 times by one count.
“He talked so much beer,” NBC News anchor Nicole Wallace said during the following break. “I think ‘Cheers’ was the last time I heard anyone talk about beer that much.”
12.Kavanaugh apologizes for “Renate Alumnius,” insists it was innocently intended
During the hearing, Kavanaugh apologized to Renate Schroeder Dolphin for an oblique reference he and several of his friends made to her in his old high school yearbook.
As reported in the New York Times, the phrase “Renate Alumnius” appears in the blurb under his photo. But her name is mentioned at least 14 times in the Georgetown Prep 1983 yearbook, including in a group photo featuring Kavanaugh and eight other football players, where she’s referenced in the phrase “Renate Alumni.”
Two of Kavanaugh’s former classmates have said that the references was a sexual joke at Dolphin’s expense. And another former Georgetown Prep classmate told the Times that Kavanaugh and his friends “were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate.”
Dolphin, who attended a nearby girls school and was among the 65 people that signed a letter attesting to Kavanaugh’s good character, said Monday that she had never known about the reference before it was made public. “I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago. I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue,” she told the Times. “I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”
After the yearbook reference was made public, Kavanaugh said through his lawyer that he and Dolphin had gone out on one date while in high school, and “shared a brief kiss good night,” and that the phrase “refers to the fact that he and Ms. Dolphin attended that one high school event together and nothing else.” Kavanaugh’s statement did not explain why his friends also referred to her.
Dolphin denied any such encounter, telling the Times that “I think Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him.”
During his hearing Thursday, Kavanaugh repeated his assertion that the reference was innocent. This time, he did not say that he and Dolphin kissed, but he did offer an explanation as to why his friends also referred to her.
“One of our good female friends who we admire and went to dances with had her name used on the yearbook page with the term alumnus,” he said. “That yearbook reference was clumsily intended to show affection that she was one of us. But in this circus, the media interpreted that the term was related to sex. It was not related to sex.”
“I am so sorry to her for that yearbook reference,” he added.
13. Kavanaugh loses his cool over Mark Judge questions
Things got heated when Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, pushed Kavanaugh on why his friend refused to testify before the committee.
“Would you want him to be here as a witness?” Leahy asked about Judge.
“He’s already provided sworn testimony, this allegation has been hidden by the committee,” Kavanaugh shot back.
Kavanaugh then said Judge — who according to Ford was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her — struggled with alcoholism. “We can sit here and make fun of some guy who has an addiction,” Kavanaugh said.
Leahy also asked Kavanaugh whether he was “Bart O’Kavanaugh” ― a character from Judge’s memoir, which frequently uses pseudonyms for people he knew, who vomits in a car after a party.
Kavanaugh replied: “You’d have to ask him.”
14. Graham explodes: ‘The most despicable thing I’ve ever seen”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham then launched into a forceful tirade. Branding the hearing: “The most despicable thing I’ve ever seen in politics.”
“I would never to do to them what you’ve done to this guy,” he said. “I hope the American people see through this sham. When it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process, you’ve come to the wrong place.”
15. Kavanaugh snaps at Klobuchar
Kavanaugh had a terse exchange with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, who asked whether or not he had ever blacked out from drinking.
“You’re asking about blackout, I don’t know, have you? Kavanaugh replied.
“Could you answer the question, judge? So that has not happened, is that your answer?” Klobuchar pressed.
Kavanaugh quipped: “Yeah, and I’m curious if you have.”
After returning from a break, Kavanaugh apologized for the way he answered the senator’s questions.
“I’m sorry I did that,” he said.
Klobuchar accepted his apology, noting she was sensitive to the topic because her father was an alcoholic.
16. “I swear to God”
Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony ended dramatically, with the Supreme Court nominee taking an oath before the Senate Judiciary and God that the accusations against him are untrue: “I swear to God,” he said.
“I want you to look me in the eye. Are Dr Ford’s allegations true?”
“They are not accurate as to me,” the judge responded. “I’ve never done this … to her or anyone else.”
“None of these allegations are true? No doubt in your mind?” asked Kennedy.
“Zero,” Kavanaugh responded.
The final question of the day: “Do you swear to God?”
“I swear to God,” Kavanaugh responded.