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Ford says she's '100 percent' sure of attacker

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

12:51 p.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says no one helped write the letter she sent privately to Sen. Dianne Feinstein outlining her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Asked Thursday by attorney Rachel Mitchell at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing if Ford had any help, Ford answered flatly, "No."

Ford explained how she was weighing whether to come forward about the incident from 35 years ago. Kavanaugh denies assaulting her when they were teens.

Ford first brought her concerns privately in July to her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo. The California Democrat suggested she write the letter to Feinstein.

Ford described a "fairly brief" phone call with Feinstein once the senator had received the letter.

For says she started interviewing lawyers because the few other people she had told said she would need one.

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12:23 p.m.

The prosecutor at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing questioning Christine Blasey Ford about her allegation of sexual assault has asked about her fear of flying.

Attorney Rachel Mitchell asked Ford about her anxieties. Ford acknowledged Thursday a discomfort with airplanes but said she was "able to get up the gumption" and fly from California to Washington for the hearing. She said she's also taken planes for vacations.

Asked if other factors in her life could be causing anxiety, Ford said there was "nothing as striking" as the event with Kavanaugh.

Ford alleges Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teens. He denies the allegation.

Mitchell is a Phoenix prosecutor hired by Republicans to handle questioning for the all-male GOP side of the dais.

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12:01 p.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is "100 percent" certain that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high-school teenagers.

Ford answered in response to Sen. Dick Durbin's question asking what degree of certainty Ford had that it was Kavanaugh.

It was the second time in the televised hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that Ford asserted that her claim against Kavanaugh was not a case of mistaken identity.

Both instances were in response to questions from Democratic senators who were trying to reinforce Ford's credibility as Kavanaugh's accuser.

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11:58 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has left his suburban Maryland home ahead of his expected testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on allegations he sexually assaulted a teen at a party.

Kavanaugh left through the side door of his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home where an American flag was hung outside the front door and a basketball hoop stood out front.

Kavanaugh stepped into a waiting black SUV as a reporter shouted questions. He did not comment.

While he got into his car, his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford was being questioned by senators. She told the panel that she was barricaded in a bedroom by Kavanaugh and a friend, and Kavanaugh held her down, covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her. He denies the allegations.

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11:52 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford has testified that she saw Brett Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge a few weeks after she says Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Ford says Judge was in the room when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering when they were teens. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, denies assaulting Ford. Judge in a statement said he has "no memory" of the alleged incident.

Ford told the senators she ran into Judge at a Safeway store roughly "six to eight weeks" after the assault. She recalled that after she said hello, "his face was white." She said Judge was "nervous," didn't want to speak with her and "looked a little bit ill."

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to subpoena Judge for his testimony. Republicans have rejected that request. Judge, through his lawyer, has said he does not wish to speak publicly.

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11:38 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says her strongest memory of the time she alleges Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens is the laughter.

Ford, a research psychologist and professor, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter."

She was describing Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, the other teen she says was present as they locked her in a room at a party.

The 51-year-old mom from Palo Alto, California, was asked by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont of her strongest memory of the incident.

Ford testified that Kavanaugh and Judge "were laughing with each other."

Asked if she has ever forgotten that laughter, she shook her head no.

She described being "underneath one of them" as the two laughed.

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11:33 a.m.

President Donald Trump is watching the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One on a slight delay.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump is watching it a bit "delayed" because he was in transit when the proceedings started.

Sanders had no additional reaction to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school students in the 1980s.

Trump did not speak to Kavanaugh on Thursday.

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11:27 a.m.

Miranda Greear of Roanoke, Va., is among the hundreds of people who have gathered on Capitol Hill to make their voices heard during Thursday's historic Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Greear says she wants to show support for survivors of sexual assault.

She says that for years, women have been told they shouldn't share their stories and that what happened was their fault. She says, "I'm done living in a world where women are not believed."

Supporters of Brett Kavanaugh are also in the crowd. A Maryland woman, Karen, is wearing a shirt that says "Women for Kavanaugh." She declined to give her last name because "anybody who gives their last name in this environment is risking harm to themselves."

Karen says "I think if these allegations were true, it would not have taken 35 years for them to be known."

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11:17 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is certain she did not mistakenly identify Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as her attacker at a party when they were both in high school more than 30 years ago.

Ford was responding to questions from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about how she could be sure it was Kavanaugh and not someone else who assaulted her in the bedroom of a home in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C.

Ford said, "The same way I am sure I am talking to you right now."

Feinstein said: "So what you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity."

Ford's response: "Absolutely not."

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11:10 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says the alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh "drastically altered her life for a very long time."

Ford is testifying Thursday at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations. He is expected to testify later.

She says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh during a small gathering in high school.

Ford says she suffered anxiety, phobia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms.

She says the primary impact on her life was the four years after it happened. She struggled in college both academically and socially, and had an especially difficult time forming friendships with boys.

She says it also manifested more recently. She asked her husband to make two front doors in their California home as a result of the attack, so she could have a way out if necessary.

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11:08 a.m.

The Phoenix prosecutor Republicans have hired to handle much of their questioning at a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has begun her questioning of Kavanaugh's accuser.

Rachel Mitchell began her questioning of Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday. The California psychology professor accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

Mitchell told Ford that the first thing that struck her about Ford's opening statement is "that you're terrified."

Mitchell said: "I just wanted to let you know I'm very sorry. That's not right."

Republicans' hiring of Mitchell will avoid having their all-male contingent interrogating Ford about the details of what she describes as a harrowing assault.

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11:05 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she wanted just one thing as she began testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee: some caffeine.

Ford, the 51-year-old mom of two from California, offered a light moment Thursday after being sworn in for testimony. She is alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies assaulting her.

Told by GOP Chairman Chuck Grassley that he intended to provide a respectful and comfortable setting, she informed him she anticipated "needing some caffeine."

Ford provided her opening statement in a soft-spoken voice that was cracking at times.

When she finished, Grassley asked if she needed a short break.

Ford told the chairman she was "ok." She held up a cup and said she "got the coffee."

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10:55 a.m.

Senators sat riveted on the dais as Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who she says sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s.

Most of the 21 senators on the panel leaned forward. None appeared to take notes. Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota appeared to wipe away a tear.

The room was totally quiet as Ford described the night she said she was assaulted. People stayed in their seats in the small Judiciary committee room where Ford had asked to testify.

It was a far cry from Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing earlier this month, in which screaming protesters were hauled away at regular intervals. Most attending Thursday's hearing appear to be ticketed guests of senators, with few if any members of the general public let in.

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10:53 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she "agonized daily" over the decision on whether to come forward to speak about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford is testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is telling the committee that Kavanaugh barricaded her in a bedroom at a house party during high school and got on top of her and assaulted her.

She says that over the years, she convinced herself that because she was not raped, she should just pretend that it didn't happen. But when it became clear Kavanaugh would likely be named to the court, she said she faced a difficult choice.

She says that she sent a letter detailing the allegations to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California but had planned not to come forward. But the letter was leaked to the press. She then decided that she should speak out to tell her story in her own words.

She says her goal is to be helpful.

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10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump was traveling from New York City back to Washington as a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault began her testimony.

Trump flew aboard a helicopter from New York City to John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday morning, before boarding Air Force One. He spent several days in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The president boarded Air Force One in the late morning. Trump and staff planned to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One as they traveled back to Washington.

The hearing began with testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the charges.

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10:42 a.m.

Christine Blasey Ford says she came before the Senate Judiciary Committee not because she wanted to, but because she believed it's her civic duty.

Ford spoke Thursday at a hearing on her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her voice cracked as she spoke to the committee, calling Kavanaugh: "the boy who sexually assaulted me."

She says that the assault has been seared into her memory and has haunted her.

She says Kavanaugh held her down on a bed during a party with a few other high school kids and assaulted her, and put his hand over her mouth so she could not scream. She says she thought he would try to rape her.

Kavanaugh has denied any allegations. He will speak to the committee later Thursday.

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10:41 a.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the committee's Democratic leader got into a terse exchange over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

As the hearing began Thursday morning, chairman Chuck Grassley accused Sen. Dianne Feinstein of keeping allegations against Kavanaugh secret and releasing them at the last minute.

Feinstein said she initially kept the allegations confidential at the request of Kavanaugh's accuser — Christine Blasey Ford until Ford was willing to come forward. The California psychology professor accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

Grassley and Feinstein also got into an exchange over introducing Ford. Feinstein suggested Grassley hadn't done a proper job introducing her. Grassley said he hadn't gotten to it yet.

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10:37 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh raise "real questions of character."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says three women have made allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate actions against Kavanaugh that are at odds with Kavanaugh's recollections of his youth.

Feinstein was speaking at the start of a hearing to explore Christine Blasey Ford's claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Feinstein says the FBI should have investigated allegations made by Ford and two other women, just as it did in 1991 when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her.

The California Democrat says Republicans already have indicated they intend to proceed with a vote on Kavanaugh.

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10:25 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says the committee has tried to investigate two other allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but it has not received cooperation from the accusers.

Grassley made the comments Thursday at a hearing where the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is going to testify on her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teens.

Since Ford's allegations, two other women have said they were assaulted by Kavanaugh. Grassley says the committee made several requests for evidence. He says neither attorney has made their clients available.

Both attorneys have said they have tried to get their clients heard, but the committee won't listen.

Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.

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10:20 a.m.

A woman who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he doesn't belong on the nation's highest court.

Julie Swetnick said in an interview with Showtime's "The Circus" that she didn't want to come forward a day before Kavanaugh was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that "circumstances brought it out that way." An excerpt of her interview was released Thursday.

In a sworn statement, Swetnick accused Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women, among other accusations.

The Associated Press hasn't been able to corroborate the claims, and continues to investigate. Both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied misconduct.

Swetnick says she wants the American public to have the facts and "judge for themselves."

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10:15 a.m.

The attorney for a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault tweeted a note of support from the woman to Christine Blasey Ford ahead of Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Deborah Ramirez says she is thinking of Ford. She says: "They want us to feel alone and isolated but I'm there wrapping my arms around you." That's according to a tweet sent by Ramirez' lawyer John Clune.

Ramirez says she is holding Ford up in spirit. Ford is testifying Thursday before the committee on her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

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10:13 a.m.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is opening a hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with an apology to both Kavanaugh and his accuser for the way they've been treated, saying they and their families have received "vile threats."

The Iowa Republican promised a "safe, comfortable and dignified" atmosphere Thursday as his committee hears from both.

Grassley also said it had been a "terrible couple of weeks" for both Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accuses Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

The committee is expected to hear hours of testimony Thursday. Ford will testify first. Kavanaugh is scheduled to testify later in the day.

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10:12 a.m.

The atrium of the Hart Senate Office building is full of demonstrators protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

At least 200 men and women are standing silently with their fists raised on the ground floor and lining the first floor balconies.

Many of the protesters are wearing black tape over their mouths with the message "believe survivors" or have similar messages written on their upraised palms.

All protests on Capitol grounds are prohibited, but Capitol Police appear to be giving the protesters some leeway.

An officer with the Capitol Police told The Associated Press that the protests would be allowed as long as nobody chanted, marched or held a sign up at head level.

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10:10 a.m.

With the high-stakes hearing for his Supreme Court nominee underway, President Donald Trump is meeting with diplomats at the United Nations.

Trump was scheduled to meet with staff as he concludes his trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

Trump plans to return to Washington later Thursday morning. He has said he will be watching the hearing and has said he could be convinced to change his mind on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though he has continued to strongly defend him.

Kavanaugh faces accusations of sexual misconduct, which he has strongly denied. He and his chief accuser will both appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

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10:05 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has gaveled into session Thursday's dramatic hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford, in prepared remarks submitted to the committee, alleges that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes when they were teens. Kavanaugh, in his prepared testimony, says he's never done anything "remotely resembling" what Ford describes.

Grassley and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will deliver opening statements at the start of the hearing. Then Ford will be sworn in as a witness and deliver her opening statement. Kavanaugh will testify later, after her session is over.

The 11 Republican and 10 Democratic members of the panel will have five minutes each to question Ford and Kavanaugh in alternating turns.

Republicans have hired an outside attorney, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to handle much of their questioning.

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9:25 a.m.

With a dramatic day of testimony looming, protesters are gathering around the U.S. Capitol building.

Organizers behind the Women's March plan a "direct action" Thursday morning in the Hart Senate Office Building in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who will testify that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her during a drunken high school party.

Elsewhere, a coalition of conservative women's groups is planning an "I stand with Brett" rally near the Russell Senate Office Building.

Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing earlier this month was marred by dozens of protesters interrupting the hearing even before Ford's allegation became public.

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12:35 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is raising the curtain on what promises to be high drama - a hearing in which senators will listen to a woman accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, then weigh his denial.

At stake is President Donald Trump's second nomination to the high court.

Kavanaugh's confirmation seemed assured until a California college professor, Christine Blasey Ford, accused the appeals court judge of attempting to rape her when they were high school teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied any sexual misconduct then or in college at Yale, though more women alleging sexual misconduct have come forward.

Kavanaugh defended himself this week in a TV interview. The hearing set to begin Thursday morning will be the first time the country sees and hears from Ford.

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For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination

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