WATCH: Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony live above
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has claimed he is the victim of a “grotesque and obvious character assassination” and his name has been “totally and permanently destroyed” by sexual assault allegations.
Appearing before a Senate committee, Brett Kavanaugh said he “unequivocally and categorically” denied Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, and labelled as “vicious and false” other accusations of sexual misconduct also from the 1980s made by two additional women who did not appear before the panel.
Kavanaugh attacked Democratic senators, saying he was the victim of a calculated and orchestrated political “hit”.
“You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit,” he said.
“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.
But Kavanaugh told the Judiciary Committee: “I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge.”
Kavanaugh said he wanted to testify as soon as Ford’s allegation first emerged and was not surprised that other allegations followed.
“In those 10 long days, as was predictable and as I predicted, my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.”
The delay in scheduling a hearing “has been horrible to me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country,” Kavanaugh said.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh added.
He was careful not to denounce Ford, noting that he wished her “no ill will.” He said that he was not questioning that Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time, but that he had never assaulted her or anyone.
The hearing, which has riveted Americans and intensified the political polarisation in the United States, occurred against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.
The momentous hearing could determine whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Senate after a pitched political battle between Trump’s fellow Republicans and Democrats who oppose the nominee.
Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said over four hours of testimony that 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.
She said that he and another friend pushed into a room and Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take her clothes off.
Her voice cracked with emotion as she shared the pain of coming forward to “relive this trauma in front of the world”.
She told the panel members that she believed Kavanaugh, who is nominated for a vacant post on the Supreme Court, was going to rape her.