At hearing, Kavanaugh accuser '100 percent' certain he assaulted her

 

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A university professor on Thursday said she was "100 percent" certain that Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, telling a dramatic U.S. Senate hearing she feared he would rape and perhaps accidentally kill her.

Christine Blasey Ford, her voice sometimes cracking with emotion, appeared in public for the first time to detail her allegation against Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge chosen for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court. He also faces allegations of sexual misconduct by two other women.

Kavanaugh was due to testify later in the day before the Judiciary Committee in a momentous hearing that could determine whether he will be confirmed by the Senate after a pitched political battle between Trump's fellow Republicans and Democrats who oppose the nominee. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations by all three women.

RELATED:  Ford testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee
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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Christine Blasey Ford attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for her to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: 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. 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. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Rachel Mitchell ask questions to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 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. (Photo By Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building 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. In prepared remarks, Ford said, �t is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.� (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: 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. 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. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Senator Benjamin E. Sasse (R-NE) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) talks as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 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. (Photo By Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on September 27, 2018, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Photo by Tom Williams / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOM WILLIAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on September 27, 2018, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Photo by Tom Williams / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOM WILLIAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor from Arizona, waits for Christine Blasey Ford, to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS
Senate Republicans attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Mike Lee (R-UT) before the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Melina Mara/Pool via REUTERS
Senate Republicans attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
Senators Dianne Feinstein, left, and Richard Durbin attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
Senators Richard Durbin and Kamala Harris attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell listens during opening statements before Christine Blasey Ford testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS
Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris talk at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), committee chairman before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Melina Mara/Pool via REUTERS
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"With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?" Democratic Senator Richard Durbin asked Ford.

"One hundred percent," she replied, remaining firm and unruffled through hours of testimony even under questioning by a sex crimes prosecutor hired by the committee's Republicans.

Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said a drunken Kavanaugh attacked her and tried to remove her clothing at a gathering of teenagers in Maryland when he was 17 years old and she was 15 in 1982.

Ford said "absolutely not" when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein asked her if it could be a case of mistaken identity, as Kavanaugh has suggested.

The hearing, which has riveted Americans and intensified the political polarization in the United States, occurred against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.

"I have found your testimony powerful and credible and I believe you," Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told Ford.

While some Republicans and Trump have called the allegations by Ford and the two other women against Kavanaugh part of a smear campaign, Ford told the committee, "I am an independent person and I am no pawn."

Ford was seated at a table in the packed hearing room flanked by her lawyers, facing a bank of senators. Cameras from news photographers clicked as she entered the room and took her seat, smiling nervously. Ford told the senators she was "terrified" to testify but felt it was her civic duty come forward. The audience at the hearing remained in rapt attention.

"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 sought to probe Ford's account including any gaps in her story, her questioning seemed disjointed. She took turns with the Democratic senators to ask questions in five-minute segments, disrupting her flow.

RELATED: Protesters gather in Washington D.C. ahead of Ford, Kavanaugh Senate hearing

34 PHOTOS
Protesters gather in Washington D.C. ahead of Ford, Kavanaugh Senate hearing
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Protesters gather in Washington D.C. ahead of Ford, Kavanaugh Senate hearing
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester displays a note on her hand that reads 'No Kavanaugh' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters stand with their hands up while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters display notes written on their arms reading 'Believe Survivors' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester displays a note on her hand that reads 'No More' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester displays a note on her hand that reads 'No Kavanaugh' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who accuses him of sexual assault will present dueling accounts of what happened -- or didnt happen -- 36 years ago, as senators hold a historic hearing that will shape the court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester displays a note on her hand that reads 'No Kavanaugh' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who accuses him of sexual assault will present dueling accounts of what happened -- or didnt happen -- 36 years ago, as senators hold a historic hearing that will shape the court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold their hands up while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Chet Strange / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHET STRANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors gather in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC, in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who is testifying against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Chet Strange / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHET STRANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Protestors rallying against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh watch testimony from Christine Blasey Ford on a smartphone inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: A supporter of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh stands inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: A supporter of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh wears stickers on his jacket while standing inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrive inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest against the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as Christine Blasey Ford testifies at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on September 27, 2018. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh stand during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Protestors rallying against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh watch testimony from Christine Blasey Ford on a smartphone inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A protester in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh wears stickers reading 'I Stand With Brett' ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Kavanaugh and a woman who accuses him of sexual assault will present dueling accounts of what happened -- or didnt happen -- 36 years ago, as senators hold a historic hearing that will shape the court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester wears tape over her mouth that reads 'Believe Women' while demonstrating ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - SEPT 27: Joy Gerhard, of Seattle, cries in the Hart Senate Office Building atrium as she listens on her phone to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify on the sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Thursday Sept. 27, 2018. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Demonstrators listen to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony during a protest against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Protestors rallying against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh watch testimony from Christine Blasey Ford on a smartphone inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Demonstrators' signs lay on the floor during a protest against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Protestors gather to demonstrate against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) poses for a photo with demonstrators during a demonstration against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the Hart Senate Office Building on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Protestors and supporters of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh watch Christine Blasey Ford's testimony from Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) office on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: A sign lays on the floor during a protest against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Demonstrators' signs lay on the floor during a protest against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
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"The first thing that struck me from your statement this morning was that you are terrified. And I just wanted to let you know, I'm very sorry. That's not right," Mitchell said.

Supreme Court appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, and Trump's fellow Republicans control the chamber by a narrow 51-49 margin. That means that a handful of moderate Republican senators who have not announced whether or not they support Kavanaugh could determine his fate.

The committee could vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Friday, with a final Senate vote early next week.

Some Democrats have called on Kavanaugh to withdraw in light of the allegations.

 

'TERRIFIED ME THE MOST'

Ford said Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming during the assault, adding, "This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me."

Ford said she has suffered from claustrophobia and anxiety as a result of her experience and initially struggled when at college.

Her strongest memory of the incident, Ford said, was the "uproarious laughter between the two (Kavanaugh and Judge) and their having fun at my expense." She said the laughter has haunted her ever since.

The controversy has unfolded just weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are trying to seize control of Congress from Trump's fellow Republicans. Kavanaugh's confirmation would cement conservative control of the high court as Trump moves to shift it and the broader federal judiciary to the right.

Falling back on her own professional expertise, Ford fended off Mitchell's questions about her memories by explaining the biological underpinnings of memory formation and what factors can prompt anxiety.

Republican Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee who strongly supported Kavanaugh during confirmation hearings earlier in the month, declined to give his views on Ford's testimony.

"I shouldn't comment until we're all done and maybe not comment until I've slept on it," Grassley told reporters during a break.

Feinstein said Ford should be treated with more respect during the hearing than Anita Hill, who in 1991 accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, was treated. Thomas was ultimately confirmed by the Senate and still sits on the court.

In his prepared testimony, Kavanaugh again "unequivocally and categorically" denied her allegation, as well as "other false and uncorroborated accusations" by his other accusers.

"Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith. And it contradicts the core promise of this nation that all people are created equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect," Kavanaugh said.

Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself during a drunken dormitory party during the 1983-84 academic year when both attended Yale University.

Swetnick said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and others to get girls drunk at parties so they could be raped. She said Kavanaugh was present at a 1982 party where she was raped.

Trump chose Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired effective in July.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Andrew Chung, Amanda Becker, Richard Cowan, Makini Brice and Susan Heavey Editing by Will Dunham

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