Christine Blasey Ford -- in testimony that left the hearing room silent for much of four hours -- told the Senate Judiciary Committee she is "100 percent" certain Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school.
Ford, offering measured testimony that was at times emotional -- her voice cracked as she detailed the allegations and how the assault affected her afterward -- laid out the alleged assault that she says happened at a suburban home in the D.C. area when she was 15 and Kavanaugh 17. Ford described how she remembers Kavanaugh allegedly pushing her into a bedroom and pinning her to a bed, attempting to remove her clothing, grinding into her, and covering her mouth. There is one memory of that alleged incident that stands out, she said, when Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy asked her what her strongest memory was.
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter," Ford replied. "The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense."
The all-male Republican members of the panel allotted their time to Rachel Mitchell, a veteran prosecutor who has worked with victims of sex crimes. Mitchell probed Ford's story, pointing out some apparent gaps in memory. Ford, for instance, did not say exactly how she arrived home the night of the alleged assault.
Mitchell also asked her about her fear of flying and questioned how it was that she could fly to Delaware to visit her family and Hawaii and the South Pacific but was reluctant to travel to Washington. Some reports had said that she was anxious about flying and wanted Senate investigators to interview her at her home in California, and Ford said she had hoped to avoid flying to Washington to testify.
At the end of the hearing, Mitchell suggested that today's hearing had not been the best approach to elicit the most from Ford's memory of that afternoon 35 years ago.
"Did you know that the best way to recount memories is in a private setting?" she asked Ford and wryly noted, "Five minutes at a stretch in public is not the right way."
Kavanaugh is testifying after Ford in what is, undeniably, an historic day on Capitol Hill. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote for Friday on Kavanaugh's nomination, and it is unclear yet if that will change after Thursday.
Kavanaugh has vehemently and repeatedly denied the multiple allegations against him, including Ford's, telling Fox News that he's "never sexually assaulted anyone" and would not withdraw his nomination.