As the nation watched, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, recounting the sexual assault she allegedly suffered at the hands of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The judge also addressed Senators, defending himself against the accusations, which date back to their high school days in Bethesda, Maryland.

ESSENCE is here reporting amid thick security and police, hundreds of protesters and hallways lined with media and members of the public. The air is electric with anger. Protestors and supporters of Ford have traveled from across the country to attend the hearing.

Triana Arnold James came all the way from Smyrna, Georgia to make her feelings known.

A veteran, wife and mom, she is “standing in solidarity with women who have experienced sexual trauma.”

“When you report it you get labeled and blackballed. I support Dr. Ford,” James said.

During moments of her testimony, Dr. Ford appeared to be visibly shaken while she recalled the night Kavanaugh attacked her. After her testimony she denied that she could have mistaken Kavanugh for anyone else at the party, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked if she was sure it was him. “The same way I’m sure I’m talking to you right now. Basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, encodes that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so the trauma related experience is locked there where as other details kind of drift,” Ford stated.
 “So what you’re telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?” Feinstein asked. “Absolutely not,” Ford said.
This morning’s testimony is expected to last throughout the day, and we will update this post as the day goes on. 10:25 a.m. EST: Ford is once again asked to address the idea of mistaken identity when it comes to Kavanaugh assaulting her by Sen. Patrick Leahy. And once again, she states that she’s sure it was him. -Y.C. 10:30 a.m. EST: The panel will resume after a 15 minute break. -Y.C. 11:50 a.m. EST: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley spoke to reporters during the break saying, “I don’t think I can make any comments at all today, maybe it’s something I ought to sleep on. This is pretty important. We ought to be thinking about it a lot and not making hasty comments.” (h/t CNN) -B.E. 11:52 a.m. EST: President Donald Trump, who has firmly stood behind his nominee throughout this whole process, is reportedly watching a delayed version of Ford’s testimony on Air Force One (h/t CNN) Per the White House Travel Pool: Sarah Huckabee Sanders came back to the press cabin during the flight to say that the president was watching Ford’s testimony on AF1 on a bit of a delay. All of the TV’s on the flight your pooler could see were tuned to Fox News’s live coverage of the hearing. POTUS has not spoken to Kavanaugh or Rosenstein today, Sanders said. WH will keep us updated on status of Rosenstein meeting. -B.E. 12:12 p.m. EST:

As Dr. Ford’s testimony resumes, she is being questioned about past therapy, whether she told others about being sexually assaulted and if she willingly took a lie detector test.

“I said absolutely,” she said of the polygraph, noting it still produced anxiety.

-D.O.

12:54 p.m. EST:

Cheers erupted in a public overflow room here on The Hill as a Senator noted that President Trump should see to it that the alleged witness to the sexual assault of Dr. Ford is questioned. Ford said she favored the alleged witness being questioned. She noted the polygraph was administered soon after her grandmother’s funeral. Meanwhile, protests continue outside the hearing, and Black women and their allies are here in notable numbers. Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell joined protesters earlier on the steps of the Supreme Court. He is protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination. “With each hour it’s clearer that Brett Kavanaugh has no place in a courtroom besides a defendant’s chair. But somehow, some senators in both parties are still publicly on the fence,” he said. “That Kavanaugh is still in the running for a Supreme Court seat while black and brown youth across America languish in prison for carrying small amounts of weed is the definition of privilege.” “This isn’t a tough call,” he said. “It’s a moment of reckoning. It’s time for senators to step up and go on record now to say they oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. This moment — and their constituents — demand nothing less.” There is now a 30 minute recess for lunch. -D.O.

12:57 p.m. EST:

ESSENCE spoke with sources here on Capitol Hill to learn more about Rachel Mitchell, the lawyer chosen to question Ford and Kavanaugh on behalf of the Republican majority at today’s hearing. Mitchell has spent her entire legal career – 26 years – working in the county attorney’s office of Maricopa County, Arizona. She was a law clerk with the county attorney’s office immediately after law school, and she joined the office as a prosecutor in 1993. Mitchell is currently the Deputy County Attorney, and she heads the county’s Special Victim’s Division, which has two bureaus: one for sex crimes, one for family violence. Previously, Mitchell headed the sex-crimes bureau for 12 years. According to sources, Mitchell is taking a leave of absence from Maricopa County in order to work on the Kavanaugh nomination. -D.O. 1:07 p.m. EST: Social media is buzzing with reactions to today’s hearing. Here are a few highlights from Twitter: -Y.C. 1:38 p.m. EST: The Black women ESSENCE has met here at the hearing range from millennials and gen-xers to baby boomers. Annette Martin is in her 60s. The social worker and native of Iowa braved the crowds, navigating in a wheelchair. “I am a sexual survivor myself,” she said. “I am trying to still find strength to talk about the situation.” “I remember Anita Hill’s testimony and how badly they treated her. I wanted to be here to bear witness. I want to be here for Anita as well as for Dr. Ford.” Asked if she believes the protests and accusations against Kavanaugh will lead most Senators to vote against his confirmation she wasn’t sure. “I know I had to be here. I am hoping it makes a difference.” -D.O 2:17 p.m. EST The testimony of Christine Blasey Ford has concluded. Grassley thanked Ford her time and her bravery in stepping forward and called recess for 45 minutes. Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be going before the committee next. -B.E. 2:45 p.m. EST Donations to Ford’s GoFundMe campaign have soared since she testified that some of her security and legal costs have been covered by the accounts. According to the Wall Street Journal, after mentioning the campaign caused her donations to jump from $179,000 to more than $300,000 and counting in a 30 minute time-span. -B.E. 3:08 p.m. EST: Brett Kavanaugh has taken his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee -B.E. 3:17 p.m. EST: An angry Brett Kavanaugh is now testifying from his own written statement. He says, “The whole two week effort has been a calculated hit”. He says part of it comes from revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and the whole hearing is a circus. Kavanaugh calls the whole thing a “character assassination”. -Y.C. 3:48 p.m. EST: Kavanaugh is still giving his personal statement and is crying in between drinking water. He’s denied being at the party Ford described earlier. He also says he has tons of female friends. But he did remind people he loved beer back then and still does. 4:10 p.m. EST: There’s been lots of emotion from public spectators in the overflow room as Kavanaugh testifies. The judge strongly denied the sexually assault allegations Ford has leveled, and at one point, swore before God and country that he was “innocent” of such an act. He also thanked President Donald Trump for his steadfast support. When Kavanaugh began to tearfully recount certain memories about his father and friendships with women, audible groans and frustrated sighs were heard from a few of the women spectators in the room. As Kavanaugh was questioned about his drinking–and he admitted a fondness for beer–laughter erupted in the room. At one point, the capitol police onsite urged folks to remain quiet–one of the rules they’d announced in advance. -D.O. 4:11 p.m. EST A break has been called in the hearing session after a very emotional opening. -B.E. 4:42 p.m. EST:  Sen. Dick Durbin challenges Kavanaugh to turn to White House Counsel Don McGhan and ask for a suspension of the nomination process to let the FBI investigate the charges against him. Grassley stopped the clock on the hearing and responds “This committee is running the hearing…we are not suspending this hearing.” 4:49 p.m. EST: Sen Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) launched a staunch defense of Kavanaugh during his the hearing, slamming Democrats for what he labeled “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.” “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. Not me,” Graham accused. “I would never do to this what you have done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. If you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you did to this guy,” Graham added. Graham then announced his intentions to vote for Kavanaugh, before adding that he hoped “everyone who is fair-minded will.” -B.E. 5:10 p.m. EST The hearing has gone on a 15 minute break. 5:36 p.m. EST African American leaders are reacting to Kavanaugh’s testimony. “As we’ve seen during today’s hearing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s flagrant anger and partisan attacks show that he does not possess the character or fitness to serve on the highest court of our nation, ” said Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP. “Until an FBI investigation takes place, senators must immediately halt this nomination process. This is a nominee who already has a dubious relationship with the truth, and Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony just underscores the absolute necessity for an investigation into all sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.” Black women in Congress are reacting to today’s testimony. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) shared with ESSENCE: “At today’s hearing, Congressional Republicans revictimized Dr. Ford in order to advance their political agenda. Instead of doing the right thing and allowing for an FBI investigation, Senate Republicans put the victim on trial because they are afraid of the facts,” said Congresswoman Kelly, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Black Women and Girls. “They are trying to rush their very questionable nominee through to the Supreme Court. Dr. Ford is a true patriot and her courage can and will inspire other victims to stand up, speak out and fight back against the pervasive culture of sexual abuse, harassment and assault in our society. We believe survivors and times up for abusers.” -D.O. 6:18 p.m. EST: Senate Republicans will meet tonight to decide where to move forward with Kavanaugh’s hearing. -Y.C. 6:28 p.m. EST: Ted Cruz says he doesn’t think Kavanaugh was treated with the same respect Ford received. -Y.C. 6:41 p.m. EST:  Sen. Kamala Harris did not come to play with Kavanaugh on Thursday evening, asking very pointed questions to which she expected direct answers. Kavanaugh was still reticent in his responses, however. “I’ve not heard you answer a very specific question that’s been asked. Are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you?” Harris asked right out the gate. Kavanaugh, again, attempted to dodge the questions, attempting, as he had earlier in the hearings, to say that he’s willing to do whatever the committee wants to do and attempting to explain how the FBI works. Harris wasn’t having it. “It’s a yes and no or then we can move on,” Harris prompted, cutting off any attempts to explain. Again, Kavanaugh tried to run around. “I’m going to take that as a no,” Harris said. Then Harris asked THAT question. “Do you believe that it’s possible for men to be friends with some women and treat other women badly?” Harris asked the important question that everyone seems to have glossed over. And then for the final ringer, Harris asked Kavanaugh a question that surprisingly, no one else seemed to think to have asked. “Did you watch Dr. Ford’s testimony?” the senator asked. Kavanaugh admitted that he did not. “I was planning to,” he insisted. “But I was preparing mine.” -B.E. 6:45 p.m. EST Kavanaugh’s hearing has come to an end. -B.E. 7:00 p.m. EST President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after Kavanaugh’s hearing ended that the “Senate must vote!” praising Kavanaugh for his “powerful, honest, and riveting” testimony. TOPICS: