Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said on Monday he would be willing to speak with US senators to refute an allegation of physical and sexual assault shortly after his accuser said through her attorney that she would be willing to tell her side of the story in testimony before Congress.
The fast-developing story has set Kavanaugh's nomination on an uncertain course, just days ahead of a scheduled committee vote.
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Here's everything we know about how the nomination arrived at this point:
- The early 1980s: Christine Ford said that while she and Kavanaugh were high school students at their respective schools in Maryland, they both went to a party. Ford alleged that at this party, she was pushed into a bedroom and an inebriated Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed while his friend Mark Judge was watching and laughing. She said Kavanaugh groped her, tried to take off her clothes and placed his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she managed to escape when Judge jumped on top of them. Kavanaugh and Judge have denied the allegations, and Ford said she did not speak about the incident for years. Ford told The Washington Post that she thought it happened in the summer of 1982, when she would have been 15 and the newspaper said Kavanaugh would have been 17.
- 2012: While at couples therapy with her husband, Ford told the Post she described the alleged incident in detail for the first time. Her husband, Russell Ford, recalled to the Post that she talked during their 2012 sessions about the incident, mentioning Kavanaugh's last name and that he was a federal judge who might be on the Supreme Court eventually. Ford provided portions of the therapist's notes to the paper, which described an incident without mentioning Kavanaugh by name. The Post said the notes referred to four boys involved, which Ford said was an error made by her therapist. Ford told the Post four boys at the party, but only two were in the room.
- 2013: Notes from an individual therapy session said Ford talked about a "rape attempt" from when she was a teenager, according to the Post.
- July 2018: Ford reached out to the Post's tip line as Kavanaugh's name appeared on the shortlist to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Around the same time," the Post said, Ford contacted her member of Congress, California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo.
- July 9, 2018: President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
- Late July: Ford opted to contact California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein via a letter through Eshoo's office. In the letter, Ford requests Feinstein keep the matter confidential.
- Early August: On the advice of her attorney Debra Katz, Ford took a polygraph test. The Post said Katz provided the paper with the results of the test, which was administered by a former FBI agent. The results concluded Ford was truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate, according to the newspaper.
- Late August: As Kavanaugh's nomination proceeded, Ford said she decided she did not want to go public with her accusations given the expectation that he would be confirmed. She told the Post that her thinking was, "Why suffer through the annihilation if it's not going to matter?"
- September 4-7: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds contentious hearings on Kavanaugh in which the nominee was lauded by Republicans and faced with regular interruptions from protesters. No mention is made of the allegations that would surface days later in the media.
- September 12: The Intercept reported that Feinstein is in possession of a letter detailing an accusation against Kavanaugh and that she would not provide the letter to other members of the committee.
- September 13: Feinstein said she received information on Kavanaugh and had "referred the matter to federal investigative authorities." CNN reported that Feinstein had forwarded a letter to the FBI relating to alleged misconduct by Kavanaugh while he was in high school and that the letter Feinstein sent had all the names redacted except for Kavanaugh's.
- September 14: The New Yorker reported on the substance of the allegations without naming Ford. CNN reported on details of the allegations. Mark Judge, who was reported that day to have been Kavanaugh's friend in the room, denied the allegations in an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard. The White House issued a statement from Kavanaugh denying the allegations.
- September 16: The Washington Post published an article in which Ford comes forward and details her allegations. The White House reiterated Kavanaugh's statement denying the incident occurred.
- September 17: Katz said Ford would be willing to speak publicly with lawmakers as key senators voiced interest in delaying a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. The White House stood by Kavanaugh, who was seen entering the building and who issued a new statement again denying the allegations and saying he would be willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in an effort to clear his name. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins became one of the key undecided senators to say she welcomed testimony from both Kavanaugh and Ford. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, said, "Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard, so I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner."