Republicans stacked the deck against Ford in the lead-up to her testimony about an alleged sexual assault committed by Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee when the two were in high school. They limited questioning to five minutes per senator. Given that all eleven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are white men, they brought in a woman, Maricopa County prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to cross-examine Ford and keep their hands clean. They refused to subpoena a key witness, Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, who allegedly committed the assault with Kavanaugh. They did not ask the FBI to investigate.
Ford released her opening statement, in which she details her allegation against Kavanaugh and discusses the profound impact the assault has had on her life, last night. The alleged assault, she wrote, “drastically altered” her life. For “a very long time,” she continues, she was “too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details.” And the details are harrowing, with Ford describing the deep dread she felt when Kavanaugh allegedly put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming: “This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life.”
But Ford’s delivery, in person, was even more powerful. With her voice cracking, many in the room were in tears. Her use of first names made it personal. It destroyed any claim that she could have fabricated the incident.
Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, used his opening remarks to attack Ford’s credibility and suggest that the allegations being brought against Kavanaugh were little more than an eleventh-hour political stunt—a Hail Mary to prevent an inevitable, deserved nomination. Kavanaugh has responded to the allegations in a similar fashion, presenting himself as a choir boy wronged by a partisan mob. But after her searing opening statement, there can be little doubt about Ford’s credibility now.