Americans gripped by emotional evidence of Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser


It was a day of reckoning on Capitol Hill –┬ánot just for Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh but also for America.

A defining moment for its present and future.

The testimony of two people, accuser and the accused, was destined to grip the nation.

The night before we’d read the prepared openings by both. Hearing their emotions and watching their grief was something very different.

It was explosive and America appeared both riveted and appalled.

Watching a nominee for the Supreme Court be asked if he was “a gang rapist” and a blackout drunk was surreal to see up close.

In the corridors of the Senate, there was trepidation on both sides.

When I asked Republican Senator Bob Corker if he thought it was going to be a fair hearing, he responded: “We will have to wait and see. I’d like to be in the room but you can’t see the witnesses faces.”










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Video:
Christine Blasey Ford describes the moment when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her

For many like Senator Corker who watched it play out on a TV screen, the impact of this public exposure was painfully evident in both Dr Ford and Mr Kavanaugh.

They were emotional and, at times, compelling.

She was clearly nervous, choking back tears as she recalled an alleged sexual assault from 36 years ago.

Her voice often tremoured. She was occasionally deferential, too.

He looked and sounded like a man whose life was unravelling before him and terrified he might lose the job of a lifetime.

He palpably bristled with anger, brimming with resentment, clearly exasperated by what he saw as the politicisation of the process.

Senator Lindsey Graham rushed to his defence, railing at Democrats.

“What you want to do is destroy this man’s life,” he said.

Turning to Mr Kavanaugh, he added: “You’ve got nothing to apologise for.”

Even the protesters shouting “No to Kavanaugh” outside conceded that both sides had tried to score optical goals out of this story.

Before the hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal told me: “Failure to uncover the truth will cast a cloud over this appointee.”

In the room, he quoted Senator Lindsey Graham in a book he wrote years ago about he “courage” of sexual assault victims. Dr Ford looked close to tears in response.



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Video:
Brett Kavanaugh criticises ‘orchestrated political hit’

Some in the corridors I spoke to viewed that as unnecessary point scoring, others saw it as proof of a pervasive culture of hypocrisy.

Ultimately, two people who sat in the same chair, just an hour or so apart, were asking America to believe them.

Neither were grey. Both were adamant. Two people recalling two very different version of events.

Some analysts and news anchors, including those considered more friendly to the administration, were quick to define Dr Ford as “credible”.

But after the hearing, US President Donald Trump threw his support behind his man, seemingly pleased with his defiant performance.

On Friday a vote is expected. But is it perhaps unwise and unfair to rush to judgement?

Is there not a case now to postpone the vote and allow for an FBI investigation?

Washington is an impatient place and the stakes couldn’t be higher – a nominee under fire with the potential to shape the highest court in the land for years to come.

Things may well move fast regardless.

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