In searing testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Christine Blasey Ford has recounted, in detail, the sexual assault she says she experienced at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when both were teenagers in suburban D.C.
“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life,” Ford said under oath. The memory she said haunts her most is the laugher of her alleged assailant and his alleged accomplice, Mark Judge. “Indelible in the hippocampus,” said Ford, a clinical psychologist, “is the laughter — the uproarious laughter and them having fun at my expense. I was under one of them while they laughed.”
Ford’s testimony through the morning session has been open, guileless and collegial. She’s not only presented herself admirably as a Senate witness, she has shown herself to be made of stiffer timber than the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Charles Grassley (R-IA).
Grassley the 85-year-old senator, may have outsourced the questioning to a female prosecutor from Arizona Rachel Mitchell, but he has been the ringmaster of this hearing. And he’s revealed himself to be cantankerous, thin-skinned and easily knocked off kilter. The committee chairman has groused and quibbled over picayune details and committee process.
Ford has hewed closely to her story, sought to correct small inconsistencies in the record, and kept her emotions in check despite being called on to, as she put it, “relive this trauma in front of the the world,” in performance of what she’s called her “civic duty.” Mitchell, the Arizona prosecutor has not unsteadied Ford. But Senate Democrats have repeatedly provoked fiery outbursts from Grassley by simply recounting how the Republican-controlled government failed to perform due diligence in weighing Ford’s accusation.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) apologized to Ford for the “grave disservice” she’d been done by not having the FBI investigate her claims. “The responsibility for the decision,” Whitehouse said, “lies with 13 men: The president; Director Wray of the FBI; and the 11 members of the majority of this committee.” The fact that Mark Judge had not been called to testify and be cross examined under oath, he said, “tells you all you need to know about how credible this performance is.”
Grassley, rather than let the Democrat have his say, launched into a characteristically sputtering and angry outburst. “I’d like to comment!” he said, before launching into a dull recitation of the sequence of events leading to Thursday’s hearing — in when he confusedly called the SCOTUS nominee “Brant” — and insisting: “All the time you go through an 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 we’re responding to Dr. Ford’s request to tell her story. That’s why we’re here!… Ms. Mitchell, go for Senator Lee.”