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Kavanaugh hearing begins this morning with testimony about sexual assault allegation

By Elise Viebeck and John Wagner

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee faces a high-stakes hearing Thursday, as senators prepare to hear from a woman who says he sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh will testify after Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He strongly denies her claims, as well as those from other women who have accused him of engaging in sexual misconduct as a teenager and young adult.

The accusations have roiled Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Democrats have called for an independent investigation of the charges. Republicans have vowed to probe them but have not endorsed an outside inquiry.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Ford, a professor who has stayed out of the public eye since coming forward to the Washington Post this month, will testify first, after opening statements from committee leaders. Each committee member will then have five minutes to question her.

The all-male GOP side has hired a female surrogate, Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to ask its questions.

Thursday morning, in her first public comments, Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that Kavanaugh does not deserve a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

“If he’s going to have that seat legitimately, all of these things should be investigated because from what I experienced firsthand, I don’t believe he belongs on the Supreme Court,” Swetnick says in an interview for the Showtime series, “The Circus.”

“I just want the facts to come out and I want it to be just and I want the American people to have those facts and judge for themselves.”

On Wednesday, Swetnick accused Kavanaugh of being physically abusive toward girls in high school and present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a “gang rape.”

Swetnick, a Washington resident, is represented by celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who revealed her identity on Twitter and posted her photograph on Wednesday.

In the interview, she said she did not deliberately time her emergence as an accuser for the eve of Thursday’s Senate hearing featuring another Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

“It wasn’t that I wanted to come out one day before the hearings,” she said. “Circumstances brought it out that way.”

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Watch the hearing here:

 

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