With anger and tears, Trump court pick Kavanaugh denies sex assault allegation

When Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein asked her if it could be a case of mistaken identity, as Kavanaugh and some Republican senators have suggested, Ford replied: “Absolutely not”.

Murkowski, one of the three moderate Republican senators who have not announced whether or not they will support Kavanaugh, told Reuters: “I find Dr. Ford’s testimony to be credible.”

For his part, Kavanaugh testified he was “100 percent certain” none of the alleged incidents of sexual misconduct occurred.

Democrats lauded Ford’s testimony as credible, brave and, in the words of Senator Cory Booker, “nothing short of heroic”.

“I want to thank you for your courage. And I want to tell you I believe you. …And I believe many Americans across the country believe you,” Democratic Senator Kamala Harris said.

While some Republicans and Trump have called the allegations by Ford and the two other women part of a smear campaign, Ford told the committee she had no political motivation, adding: “I am an independent person and I am no one’s pawn.”

Ford was seated at a table in the packed hearing room flanked by her lawyers, facing a bank of senators. She told the senators she was “terrified” to testify but felt it was her civic duty to come forward.

“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was very inebriated and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothing. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help,” Ford said, adding that Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, were “drunkenly laughing during the attack”.

Democratic senators sought to score political points during their five minutes apiece of questioning Ford. The panel’s Republican senators, all men, did not question her, assigning that task to Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor.

While Mitchell probed Ford’s account looking for gaps, her questioning seemed disjointed. She took turns with the Democratic senators to ask questions in five-minute segments, disrupting her flow. During Kavanaugh’s testimony, Republican senators sidelined Mitchell and asked their own questions.

The bitter fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination is unfolding just weeks before the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are trying to seize majority control of Congress from the Republicans. It has also deepened the country’s political polarization.

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