Seven takeaways from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh's Senate hearings

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr Christine Blasey Ford presented their testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday


                            Seven takeaways from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh's Senate hearings

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser clinical psychology professor Dr Christine Blasey Ford presented their testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Ford detailed her account of the sexual assault and Kavanaugh denied the allegations.

The testimonies were historic as Ford became the first woman in decades to be publicly subject to questioning about the painful details of her harrowing experience in 1980s citing her "civic duty" to come forward. 

During her testimony, in which she appeared calm, polite and almost apologetic, Ford described how Kavanaugh, then 17, along with at least three other boys, pinned her down on a bed at a gathering and attempted to rape her and covered her mouth to muffle her screams when she was 15 years of age.

Ford's testimony was almost painful to watch as the female prosecutor hired by the Republican senators on the panel, Rachel Michell, repeatedly insinuated through her questions that Ford's allegations were a political ploy. The psychology professor, however, sat patiently through the grueling process and answered each of Mitchell's questions.

Christine Blasey Ford, testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. 
Christine Blasey Ford, testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Kavanaugh's testimony, on the other hand, stood in stark contrast with Ford's where he sounded furious and emotional in his opening statement and even belittled Ford's testimony as a Democratic smear campaign to take "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."

The Supreme Court nominee appeared to dodge multiple questions about a possible FBI investigation and repeatedly came up with a seemingly feeble reasoning that the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not reach conclusions and only provides evidence. The entire hearing highlighted Kavanaugh's political bias and his inability to keep composure during the questioning which, keeping sexual assault allegations aside, are not desirable traits for a Supreme Court judge.

As the entire nation tuned in to watch the testimonies, there were some interesting moments which stood out during the Christine Blasey Ford—Brett Kavanaugh hearings:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. 
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Anonymous note left next to Christine Blasey Ford's microphone 

Ahead of Dr Christine Blasey Ford's testimony to the US Senate, a note was left next to her microphone which read: "Good luck, Dr Ford." Reports state that the note was spotted moments before Ford began her testimony in front of the body set to vote on Kavanaugh's possible lifetime appointment to the country's highest court. It is, however, not clear who wrote the note and placed it beside Ford's microphone. 



 

An aide who talked to ABC News said that the note was written by committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley. Senator Grassley, who appeared to repeatedly insist that he respected Ford's account, was also noted for frequently interrupting female Senators on the panel, and also Rachel Mitchell, whom the Republican Senators had assigned to question Ford on their behalf.

Calls to sexual assault hotline increased by 146% during the hearing

As millions of Americans listened to Ford describe the intimate details of her alleged attempted rape publicly and reliving the trauma of her horrific experience 36 years ago, many sexual assault survivors began to share their own experience on social media. There were others who reportedly talked to their friends and co-workers and called into news networks to publicly share their trauma.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the National Sexual Assault Hotline witnessed a 147 percent increase in the number of calls on the day of the testimony, Thursday, compared with a normal weekday. RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country, which administers the hotline.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Wikipedia entry for 'Devil's Triangle' changed to match Kavanaugh's answer

When Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse questioned Kavanaugh on his high school year book's entry, referring to a term called "Devil's Triangle", asking him if it holds sexual innuendo, the Supreme Court nominee brushed aside the suggestion and said that the term referred to a drinking game which involved three alcohol glasses.

Soon after Kavanaugh made the statement, hundreds took to social media to point out what Kavanaugh was saying was incorrect and the term did, in fact, hold sexual suggestions, particularly meaning a threesome involving two men and a woman. 

As many who were unaware of the term searched for a definition which matched Kavanaugh's answer on Google, hardly any similar description showed up. Reports state that it was then when a Congressional staffer took it upon themselves to provide the world with an answer which matched Kavanaugh's answer during the Supreme Court nominee's hearing.

Congress-Edits, which is a Twiter bot that tracks Wikipedia updates from congressional IP addresses, stated that someone operating from a congressional IP address updated Wikipedia to include an entry that read: 'Devil's Triangle', a popular drinking game enjoyed by friends of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh answers questions from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) during the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh answers questions from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) during the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh declared his fondness for beer

What stood out throughout Kavanaugh's testimony was that the Supreme Court nominee made it emphatically clear that he likes one thing a lot: beer. Kavanaugh mentioned his special liking for beer nearly 30 times during the hearing, starting with his opening statement where he mentioned beer drinking at least four times. The Supreme Court nominee even attempted to answer many questions from Democratic senators enquiring about his drinking habits with the fact that he likes beer. "Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I. Boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer," Kavanaugh said at one point during the questioning. 

"And we — yeah, we drank beer and I said sometimes — sometimes probably had too many beers and sometimes other people had too many beers," he answered to a separate question.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh asked senators about *their* drinking habits 

Kavanaugh's drinking habits have been publicly discussed over the past few weeks as Ford alleged that he was drunk with his friends when he tried to force himself on her. The Supreme Court nominee's roommate at the time also came forward to talk about Kavanaugh's infamous drinking habits in the circle and said that he would often come to his room blindly drunk and belligerent. 

Many Democratic senators during the hearing decided to question Kavanaugh about his alcohol consumption in high school, college and beyond. The questions directed at Kavanaugh about his drinking habits, however, took an absurd turn when the Supreme Court nominee decided to question the senators back on their drinking habits instead. 

“Senator, what do you like to drink?” Kavanaugh asked in response to a question by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

In another instance, when Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota asked Kavanaugh if he had ever blacked out after drinking and could not remember part of what happened. “You’re asking about — blackout?” Kavanaugh responded. “I don’t know, have you?” “Could you answer the question, judge?” Klobuchar asked, Kavanaugh, however, did not answer. He later apologized for his behavior.

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) and Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) engage in a debate with fellow members of the committee during the third day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) and Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) engage in a debate with fellow members of the committee during the third day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh, GOP senators frequently interrupted female senators

The Supreme Court nominee on multiple occasions during his questioning appeared to interrupt the female Democratic senators making statement and questioning him. His behavior particularly stood out when Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-California) was calmly making a statement that the judge had not called for a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation of Ford's sexual assault allegations.

While Senator Feinstein was making the statement saying that the FBI could have asked him these question, Kavanaugh said: "I'm sorry to interrupt," Kavanaugh interrupted, "but you're doing it [right now]."

Senate Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican-Iowa) was also noted for continuously interrupting Senator Feinstein and other female senators and even the prosecutor present during the hearing. 

Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as Senators, from left, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.
Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as Senators, from left, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.

Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell disappeared mid-hearing

The prosecutor assigned by the Republican senators during the hearing to take their questions, Rachel Mitchell, appeared to ask every single question in the book to put down Ford's motives for coming forward, insinuating that she was doing so with political motives. The psychology professor calmly answered every one of Mitchell's questions during her nearly four-hour-long testimony. The prosecutor, however, was nowhere to be seen during Kavanaugh's hearing. 

During the first half of Kavanaugh's hearing, Mitchell asked a round of questions, laying out a definition of sexual activity and asking whether he had ever engaged in such actions with Ford. After asking another question about his drinking habits, the prosecutor never returned to finish her line of questioning as the Republican senators decided that it was better they asked the questions from Trump's Supreme Court nominee themselves.