Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford testify on sexual assault allegations

It was difficult to watch.

Beginning with dramatic testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982.

Much anticipated and watched by millions across the country, Thursday’s hearing highlighted the great divide, not only between the Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford stories, but between Democrats and Republicans on the committee, with no less than a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land at stake.

In the morning session, which lasted almost four hours, Blasey Ford projected a vulnerability that drew sympathy from Democrats and seemed to stymie Republicans who hired a female prosecutor to do their questioning.

Christie Blasey Ford: I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is 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 … My family and I have been the target of harassment and death threats, and I’ve been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.

Sen. Cory Booker: What you’re doing for our nation right now, besides giving testimony germane to one of the most sacred obligations of our offices, is you are speaking truth that this country needs to understand. And how we deal with survivors who come forward right now is unacceptable.

Sen. Chuck Grassley: You talked about the obstruction from the other side. I cannot let it go by, what you’ve heard me say so many times, that between July 30 and Sept. 13 there were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation and her privacy would have been protected. So something happened here in between on your side that the whole country, well not the whole country, should have known about, not known about it. We should have investigated it.

In the afternoon session – which is ongoing – it was an angry, defiant Kavanaugh – driven to tears at several points – who, not only denied the charges against him but blasted the confirmation process, taking aim at Democrats on the committee for perpetuating what he called a national disgrace and a circus.

He warned that the repercussions to the country would be felt for decades.

Hon. Brett Kavanaugh: This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation. Shortly after I was nominated, the Democratic Senate leader said he would “oppose me with everything he’s got.” A Democratic senator on this committee publicly referred to me as evil. … I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation. I’ve never sexually assaulted Dr. Ford or anyone. Again, I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person, in some place, at some time, but I’ve never done that to her or to anyone.

What happens next? That is unknown.

There was a committee vote scheduled for Friday, but it’s not for certain whether the vote may be delayed. Democrats are still calling for an FBI investigation and they want to hear from more witnesses.

And, looming is the president – who said he’d be watching. One tweet from him could change the trajectory of these historic proceedings.