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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

I feared being killed, says Kavanaugh accuser

Christine Blasey Ford said that Donald Trump’s pick for the most powerful US court laughed during the assault

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before telling senators she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh 36 years ago. EPA
Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before telling senators she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh 36 years ago. EPA

A university professor insisted Thursday that Donald Trump’s pick for the most powerful court in the United States sexually assaulted her 36 years ago in dramatic evidence that gripped the country.

Christine Blasey Ford told senators that she feared being raped or accidentally killed during the alleged assault by conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh and a friend at a get-together a house in 1982 when she was 15 years old and Mr Kavanaugh two years older. She said the two boys laughed "uproariously" during the assault.

Within minutes of Ms Ford’s evidence concluding, Mr Kavanaugh hit back and said that he refused to be intimidated by what he said was a “calculated and orchestrated political hit”.

“I category and unequivocally deny the accusation against me by Dr Ford,” he said, halting repeatedly to hold back tears. He called the process of confirming his position as a “national disgrace”.

“This has destroyed my family and my good name. A good name built up through decades of public service,” he said.

He added the allegations were being made out of anger over the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and out of revenge on “behalf of the Clintons,” given that in the 1990s Kavanaugh took part in the investigations that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

He concluded by saying: "You'll never get me to quit."

President Trump defended his nominee on Twitter shortly after the hearing, saying the Democrats’ “search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct and resist.”

He also defined the judge's testimony as "powerful, honest, and riveting" and said that "the Senate must vote!"

The panel is set to vote Friday on whether to recommend Mr Kavanaugh's nomination move forward to the full Senate.

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Read more:

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Brett Kavanaugh promises that 'false accusations' will not force him to drop out

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During the earlier long and emotionally charged evidence session, Dr Ford dismissed suggestions that her naming of Mr Kavanaugh was a case of mistaken identity.

She said that Mr Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming during the assault. “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."

She denied that she was part of a politically-motivated vendetta against Mr Kavanaugh, who has faced further claims of sexual misconduct by two other women. “I am an independent person and I am no pawn,” Dr Ford told the senate committee.

At stake is a lifetime seat on the US supreme court, the final arbiter for issues such as gun control and abortion law. The election of Mr Kavanaugh would have cleared the way for a conservative majority of the court for years to come.

Republicans and Mr Trump have been battling to confront the mounting claims and suggested that the allegations were part of a Democrat-inspired smear campaign. The issue has polarised opinion and reignited passions surrounding the #MeToo campaign, sparked by the outing of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual predator.

Striking pictures from Thursday’s hearing showed Dr Ford flanked by lawyers and facing a bank of primarily male senators. The panel’s Republican senators, all men, did not question her but assigned the task to a female sex crimes prosecutor.

Supreme court appointments must be confirmed by the US Senate, and Mr Trump's fellow Republicans control the chamber by a narrow 51-49 margin. His fate could be decided next week.