Younger Americans support expanding the Supreme Court and serious political reforms, says new poll.
- Americans under 40 largely favor major political reforms, finds a new survey.
- The poll revealed that most would want to expand the Supreme Court, impose terms limits, and make it easier to vote.
- Millennials are more liberal and reform-centered than Generation Z.
A new nonpartisan poll of Americans under 40 finds they want serious reforms in the American political system. The survey, conducted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, showed great support for expanding the Supreme Court, terms limits, and abolishing the electoral college.
In particular, the researchers looked at opinions from 1,503 people between 18 and 39 years old, representing millennials – those born from early 1980s to mid-1990s, and the succeeding Generation Z – those born in the mid-to-late 1990s until early 2010s. Overall, most everyone agreed that the political system is quite broken, with only 24 percent having trust in the government. Interestingly, millennials appear more liberal-minded and want reforms more than the younger cohort.
The majority of the polled (52 percent) were in favor of upping the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 13, with 66 percent of the millennials and 62 percent of the Gen Z'ers supporting. Seventy-two percent of all surveyed wanted to do away with lifetime appointments of the justices and impose term limits. Seventy-nine percent of the millennials and 62 percent of Gen Z approved this measure. Eighty-four percent of all surveyed wanted Congressional term limits.
Political science professor John Cluverius, associate director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, which carried out the poll, sees a correlation between the views of the younger Americans and the politics in the run-up to the 2020 elections:
"It's no coincidence that as Joe Biden's lead has grown in the polls, the more comfortable Americans are with expanding the size of the Supreme Court," said Cluverius in a press release. "As the chance of Trump holding a second term and appointing more justices dwindles, the opposition to court-packing dwindles as well. Saying Americans are opposed to expanding the court used to be conventional wisdom; now it's a commonly held misconception."
Americans under 40 also want to eliminate the Electoral College and rather pick Presidents by popular vote, with 58 percent overall in favor to the idea. That includes 64 percent of millennials and 54 percent of Gen Z people polled. Sixty-nine percent of all adults also like the idea of "no excuse" absentee balloting for any voter. Additionally, 71 percent of millennials would rather see more than two political parties being competitive in the U.S., compared to 61 percent of all and 59 percent of Gen Z participants.
On the issues of social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, the poll found 8 percent fewer overall saying that Black people are treated less fairly than whites, in contrast to a similar poll from August. Forty-three percent of the respondents had such opinions, with Gen Z'ers leading in this belief at 54 percent.
Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science, commented that the ideological divide didn't break down in an expected way:
"What I find most interesting is that it is not always the youngest Americans who espouse the most liberal viewpoints," he shared." Here we see millennials, the oldest of whom are about to turn 40, as the driving force behind the vision for a more progressive future."
The poll also revealed that the vast majority of Gen Z (84 percent) and millennial (85 percent) responders are very likely to believe that human activity contributes to climate change. They also think the U.S. government has not done enough to combat it, with 64 percent of Gen Z'ers and 65 percent of millennials holding such views.
Americans under 40 are also largely in favor of canceling all student loan debt, with 66 percent of Generation Z and 66 percent of millennials supporting. In a telling comparison, the older generations are less on board, with Gen X'ers (those born from mid-60s to early 1980s) split, with 51 percent favoring the idea. Only 38 percent of the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and 31 percent of the Silent Generation (born 1928 to 1945) back the notion.
Check out the detailed results of the poll.
"This country is being ripped apart here," Flake told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- With just minutes to go until the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Kavanaugh's confirmation, Flake entered closed-door talks with other senators to discuss terms of a possible FBI investigation.
- Flake said he will vote against Kavanaugh unless a one-week FBI investigation takes place.
- Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who's remained undecided on Kavanaugh, says she will support Flake.
In a dramatic turn of events, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court only if the Senate asks the FBI to conduct a one-week investigation into allegations sexual assault.
It was an unexpected development that followed meetings with Democratic senators that occurred just minutes before the confirmation vote was scheduled to take place.
Flake, who announced today before the meeting that he would vote yes on Kavanaugh, said it would be "proper" to delay the Senate vote "for up to, but not more than one week."
"I'm not expecting [Democrats] to vote yes... but not to complain that an FBI investigation has not occurred," Flake said. "This is what I'm trying to do. This country is being ripped apart here. We've got to make sure that we do due diligence."
The committee voted to approve Kavanaugh's nomination, effectively sending the vote to the Senate floor. Now, the question of whether an FBI investigation will take place lies in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell hasn't said whether he will order an FBI investigation. However, Flake said that he would vote against Kavanaugh if an investigation doesn't take place. Reportedly, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has said she will stand with Flake in demanding an investigation. Susan Collins (R-ME), another undecided senator, could follow suit.
McConnell seems pressed to pursue an investigation. Why? Because Republicans need 51 votes to confirm Kavanaugh, and a defection by any one of the undecided senators could jeopardize Kavanaugh's chances of ascending to the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump told reporters he would support whatever the Senate decides, adding that he thought Christine Blasey Ford's testimony was compelling. "I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me," Trump told reporters. "Brett's testimony was, likewise, really something that I hadn't seen before."
Protestors confront Flake
Earlier this morning, just minutes after announcing that he'd support Kavanaugh at today's committee vote, Flake stepped into an elevator. But before the doors could close, two women confronted Flake and made an impassioned plea for him to vote against Kavanaugh.
"On Monday, I stood in front of your office," one of the women, Ana Maria Archila, told Flake. "I told the story of my sexual assault."
"I told it because I recognized in Dr. Ford's story that she is telling the truth," she said, her voice breaking. "What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them!"
Watch the full video of the confrontation below:
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, one day before the Senate is set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
- Ford maintained she's sure it was Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her, while Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations.
- Democrats want an FBI investigation, and even asked Kavanaugh to request one from the president, though Kavanaugh refused to do so.
- As of Thursday afternoon, the Senate is still set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Friday morning.
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Ford testified for about four hours starting in the morning. Kavanaugh followed.
In some ways, both of their tearful testimonies came off as credible and sympathetic, and it's not a stretch to suggest that someone who happened to turn on the TV on Thursday, and had no prior knowledge of the political debacle, would come away believing whichever person happened to be testifying at the time.
But the inescapable math, assuming no faults of memory, says one of them is lying.
Ford, wearing eyeglasses and a dark blue suit, remained composed throughout the questioning, despite her voice breaking at times. In asserting that she was absolutely sure it was Kavanaugh who had sexually assaulted her, she was respectful to all members of the committee, including the Republican senators and the outside counsel who asked questions on their behalf, Rachel Mitchell, who leads the special-victims division of the Maricopa County attorney's office in Arizona.
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee (Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)
In his opening statements, Kavanaugh was both angry and tearful as he described how the allegations have impacted him and his family in recent weeks. He then described his high-school days, the era in which the assault allegedly took place, in an imperfect but likely relatable light, painting himself as a work-hard-play-hard kind of student who enjoyed drinking beer with his football friends but also valued school, church and family.
Categorically denying every allegation levied against him, Kavanaugh repeatedly reminded the committee that the four witnesses who were said to be present at the gathering where the alleged sexual assault took place had all denied being there, and he expressed indignation at every turn for having to answer to allegations that he not only considers false, but also part of a Democratic conspiracy.
Here are some of the key moments from Ford's and Kavanaugh's testimony.
'I like beer'
Kavanaugh said that he likes beer, still likes beer, and perhaps had too many beers at times when he was younger. However, he was sure to paint his past drinking habits in a light of moderation, saying he'd never blacked out, passed out from drinking alcohol or woke up in a strange location after drinking.
"There is a bright line between drinking beer, which I gladly do, and which I fully embrace, and sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime," he said. "If every American who drinks beer, or every American who drank beer in high school, is suddenly presumed guilty of sexual assault, we'll be in an ugly new place in this country."
Kavanaugh: This is Revenge on behalf of the Clintons
Kavanaugh suggested that the efforts by Democrats to ruin his reputation and block his nomination were part of a cynical political plot–one he suggested is being executed on behalf of the Clintons.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," Kavanaugh said. "This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination; the consequences will be with us for decades."
Kavanaugh: The Swetnick allegation is a farce
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) mentioned allegations against him by three women–Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick–Kavanaugh became visibly angry, dismissing the Swetnick allegations as a farce.
"The Swetnick thing is a joke, it's a farce."
"Would you like to say more about it?" Feinstein asked.
"No," Kavanaugh said, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
Why not conduct an FBI investigation?
(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
In his five minutes of questioning, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) referenced a quote from Kavanaugh's opening statement in which he said he'd "welcome any kind of investigation. Durbin, after noting that Kavanaugh himself had relied on FBI work during his work on the Starr report in the Clinton era, repeatedly pressed Kavanaugh to request an FBI investigation, and asked him whether he thought an FBI investigation would be the best way to proceed.
"What do you think is best, personally?" Durbin asked.
Kavanaugh was silent, seeming to stumble for the first time of the afternoon, finally suggesting after a few beats that these allegations were sprung on him and are harmful to his family.
“This is hell”
Following Durbin's questioning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) roughly criticized the tact taken by his Democratic colleagues, saying it was the most "unethical sham" he's seen in his political career.
"You're looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend," Graham said.
Graham asked Kavanaugh if he's been through hell in the wake of the allegations.
"I've been through hell and then some."
"This is not a job interview, this is hell."
Ford: 100% sure
"With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?" Durbin asked Ford.
"One hundred percent," she responded.
A fear of flying
(Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)
Ford said that she has claustrophobia and a fear of flying. She said that, because of these conditions, she had hoped the committee would come to her in California so she could avoid flying, but during her testimony said she later realized that would have been an "unrealistic" request.
In an apparent attempt to discredit Ford, or to suggest that Democrats had wanted to necessitate a public spectacle in Washington, D.C., Mitchell kept pressing Ford on her phobia of flying. Mitchell asked Ford, who lists "surf travel" as an interest on her C.V., whether she'd ever flown to the French Polynesian islands for leisure.
"I also saw on your CV that you list the following interests of travel, and you, in parentheses put 'Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Pacific islands, and French Polynesia,'" Mitchell said. "Have you been to all this places?"
"Yes," Ford said.
Ford said that the most unforgettable part of her experience was the laughter.
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense," Ford said, referring to Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who she says was in the room.
She added: "I was underneath one of them while the two laughed...Two friends having a really good time with one another."
Two front doors
Ford said that she's developed several neuroses as a result of her sexual assault experience. One of those conditions is claustrophobia, which Ford said led her to install a second front door during a remodeling of her home."I had completed an extensive remodel of our home, and I insisted on a second front door, an idea that he and others disagreed with and could not understand," she said. "In explaining why I wanted to have a second front door, I described the assault in detail. I recall saying that the boy who assaulted me could someday be on the U.S. Supreme Court and spoke a bit about his background. My husband recalls that I named my attacker as Brett Kavanaugh."
Here's the link to watch it live.
- Both Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser, are testifying right now before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.
- Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.
- Her opening statement follows; watch the livestream below.
Her opening statement, just completed:
Christine Blasey Ford prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Christine Blasey Ford: Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, Members of the Committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford. I am a Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University and a Research Psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina and earned my degree in Experimental Psychology in 1988. I received a Master's degree in 1991 in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. In 1996, I received a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California. I earned a Master's degree in Epidemiology from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2009.
I have been married to Russell Ford since 2002 and we have two children.
I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school. I have described the events publicly before. I summarized them in my letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, and again in my letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family.
I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I attended the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, from 1980 to 1984. Holton-Arms is an all-girls school that opened in 1901. During my time at the school, girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area, including Landon School, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga High School, country clubs, and other places where kids and their families socialized. This is how I met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me.
In my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time. I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett's for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended. We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me. In the summer of 1982, like most summers, I spent almost every day at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland swimming and practicing diving.
One evening that summer, after a day of swimming at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Chevy Chase/Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I remember my friend Leland Ingham attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur of the moment gathering. I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place, and so forth. I don't have all the answers, and I don't remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.
When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer that evening. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn't see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop. A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not.
During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. The last time he did this, we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. I waited and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that I had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after me.
Brett's assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened. Over the years, I told very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault. I had never told the details to anyone until May 2012, during a couples counseling session. The reason this came up in counseling is that my husband and I had completed an extensive remodel of our home, and I insisted on a second front door, an idea that he and others disagreed with and could not understand. In explaining why I wanted to have a second front door, I described the assault in detail. I recall saying that the boy who assaulted me could someday be on the U.S. Supreme Court and spoke a bit about his background. My husband recalls that I named my attacker as Brett Kavanaugh.
After that May 2012 therapy session, I did my best to suppress memories of the assault because recounting the details caused me to relive the experience, and caused panic attacks and anxiety. Occasionally I would discuss the assault in individual therapy, but talking about it caused me to relive the trauma, so I tried not to think about it or discuss it. But over the years, I went through periods where I thought about Brett's attack. I confided in some close friends that I had an experience with sexual assault. Occasionally I stated that my assailant was a prominent lawyer or judge but I did not use his name. I do not recall each person I spoke to about Brett's assault, and some friends have reminded me of these conversations since the publication of The Washington Post story on September 16, 2018. But until July 2018, I had never named Mr. Kavanaugh as my attacker outside of therapy.
This all changed in early July 2018. I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the "short list" of potential Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh's conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault.
On July 6, 2018, I had a sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the President as soon as possible before a nominee was selected. I called my congressional representative and let her receptionist know that someone on the President's shortlist had attacked me. I also sent a message to The Washington Post's confidential tip line. I did not use my name, but I provided the names of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. I stated that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted me in the 1980s in Maryland. This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I felt I couldn't NOT do it. Over the next two days, I told a couple of close friends on the beach in California that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted me. I was conflicted about whether to speak out.
On July 9, 2018, I received a call from the office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo after Mr. Kavanaugh had become the nominee. I met with her staff on July 11 and with her on July 13, describing the assault and discussing my fear about coming forward. Later, we discussed the possibility of sending a letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, who is one of my state's Senators, describing what occurred. My understanding is that Representative Eshoo's office delivered a copy of my letter to Senator Feinstein's office on July 30, 2018. The letter included my name, but requested that the letter be kept confidential.
My hope was that providing the information confidentially would be sufficient to allow the Senate to consider Mr. Kavanaugh's serious misconduct without having to make myself, my family, or anyone's family vulnerable to the personal attacks and invasions of privacy we have faced since my name became public. In a letter on August 31, 2018, Senator Feinstein wrote that she would not share the letter without my consent. I greatly appreciated this commitment. All sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves whether their private experience is made public.
As the hearing date got closer, I struggled with a terrible choice: Do I share the facts with the Senate and put myself and my family in the public spotlight? Or do I preserve our privacy and allow the Senate to make its decision on Mr. Kavanaugh's nomination without knowing the full truth about his past behavior?
I agonized daily with this decision throughout August and early September 2018. The sense of duty that motivated me to reach out confidentially to The Washington Post, Representative Eshoo's office, and Senator Feinstein's office was always there, but my fears of the consequences of speaking out started to increase.
During August 2018, the press reported that Mr. Kavanaugh's confirmation was virtually certain. His allies painted him as a champion of women's rights and empowerment. I believed that if I came forward, my voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters. By the time of the confirmation hearings, I had resigned myself to remaining quiet and letting the Committee and the Senate make their decision without knowing what Mr. Kavanaugh had done to me.
Once the press started reporting on the existence of the letter I had sent to Senator Feinstein, I faced mounting pressure. Reporters appeared at my home and at my job demanding information about this letter, including in the presence of my graduate students. They called my boss and coworkers and left me many messages, making it clear that my name would inevitably be released to the media. I decided to speak out publicly to a journalist who had responded to the tip I had sent to The Washington Post and who had gained my trust. It was important to me to describe the details of the assault in my own words.
Since September 16, the date of The Washington Post story, I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community.
At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information on the internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls, and threats. My family and I were forced to move out of our home. Since September 16, my family and I have been living in various secure locales, with guards. This past Tuesday evening, my work email account was hacked and messages were sent out supposedly recanting my description of the sexual assault.
Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one's pawn. My motivation in coming forward
was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh's actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.
I understand that the Majority has hired a professional prosecutor to ask me some questions, and I am committed to doing my very best to answer them. At the same time, because the Committee Members will be judging my credibility, I hope to be able to engage directly with each of you.
At this point, I will do my best to answer your questions.
Watch the hearing live below:
Brett M. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of three women who's accused him of sexual assault, are due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
- On Wednesday, a third woman came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee has hired a female outside counsel to question Ford on behalf of GOP senators on Thursday.
- The accusations could possibly derail the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in the vote that's currently scheduled for Friday.
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, are due to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The committee has tentatively scheduled a confirmation vote for Friday morning. There are 51 Republican senators and 49 senators who caucus with Democrats, and six Republicans currently remain undecided. The GOP can only afford to lose one vote; in the event of a 50-50 split, Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote.
On Sunday, The New Yorker broke a story containing a second sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh from Deborah Ramirez, a woman who attended Yale University with the judge and claims he exposed himself to her at a party during college, causing her to touch his penis without her consent.
On Wednesday, a third woman came forward to accuse the Supreme Court hopeful of sexual assault. Julie Swetnick, a 55-year-old certified systems engineer who says she'd held multiple government clearances, claimed in a three-page sworn declaration that during high school parties she routinely witnessed Kavanaugh drunkenly engage in inappropriate contact with girls, even suggesting that he and his friends would "spike" punch with drugs at parties so that girls could be gang-raped in side rooms. Swetnick says she was one of those girls. Details about this latest accusation are still emerging.
Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.
"The truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise," Kavanaugh said in a Fox News interview Monday night.
On Wednesday, Ford's lawyers said they sent sworn affidavits to the Senate committee from four people who say she told them about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh before President Donald Trump had selected him as a nominee for the Supreme Court.
The president has expressed varying stances on the allegations.
In early stages of the story, Trump expressed doubt about the accusations but also said he wanted Ford to have an opportunity to speak to senators.
"I want her to have her voice," he said. "Let her have her voice. Let her say whatever she has to say. Let him say what he has to say. And in the end senators will make their choice."
But on Tuesday night, Trump suggested that Democrats are playing a cynical con game.
The Democrats are playing a high level CON GAME in their vicious effort to destroy a fine person. It is called the politics of destruction. Behind the scene the Dems are laughing. Pray for Brett Kavanaugh and his family!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
What the Ford affidavits say
The affidavits come from three friends of Ford and her husband, Russell Ford, none of whom claim to have been present at the house party where the sexual assault allegedly took place.
Adela Gildo-Mazzon, who said she's a "good friend" of Ford's, said she learned about the allegations at a pizzeria in Mountain View, Calif.
"During our meal, Christine was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on," Gildo-Mazzon said. "Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger. She said that she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge."
Another friend, Keith Koegler, claimed Ford told him in summer 2016 of having experienced a sexual assault when she was younger. Ford had been reportedly angered by what she considered to be a light sentence for a Stanford University student who had been convicted of sexual assault after raping an unconscious woman. Koegler said Ford was "particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington, D.C."
A third friend, Rebecca White, said she spoke with Ford while walking her dog in 2017. Ford reportedly told her that she had recently read a social media post written by White in which she described her own experience with sexual assault.
"She told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen," White said. "I remember her saying the assailant was now a federal judge. I have always known Christine to be a trustworthy and honest person."
Russell Ford said his wife first shared the details of the alleged incident during a couple's therapy session in 2012.
"I remember her saying that the attacker's name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine's home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington, D.C. community," Russell Ford says. "In the years following the therapy session, we spoke a number of times about how the assault affected her."
Senate Judiciary hires outside counsel to lead testimony hearings
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
On Tuesday night, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it had hired outside counsel Rachel Mitchell to question Kavanaugh and Ford on Thursday.
According to a news release from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Mitchell is currently on leave from her role as deputy county attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, where she's also chief of the special victims division.
"I promised Dr. Ford that I would do everything in my power to avoid a repeat of the 'circus' atmosphere in the hearing room that we saw the week of September 4," Grassley said in a statement. "I've taken this additional step to have questions asked by expert staff counsel to establish the most fair and respectful treatment of the witnesses possible."
Grassley said Mitchell will ask questions on behalf of the committee's 11 GOP senators, all of whom are male. Democratic senators will conduct their own questioning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wanted to avoid a "political sideshow."
"As I said earlier, and I think you already know, we have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way," McConnell said. "We want this hearing to be handled very professionally, not a political sideshow like you saw the -- put on by the Democrats when they were questioning Judge Kavanaugh."
Michael Bromwich, an attorney for Ford, said Thursday's hearings aren't analogous to a criminal trial.
"This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate," wrote Bromwich in a letter to the committee. "The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case."
Ramirez also willing to testify
On Wednesday, Ramirez's lawyers signaled that she'd be willing to testify before the committee.
Critics have noted that even Ramirez herself admitted to memory gaps of the decades-old allegations. However, in an interview on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, an attorney for Ramirez, John Clune, suggested those gaps actually make her claims more credible.
"If somebody's going to make something up they're not going to put gaps in their memory, right? She was very, very conscientious about only putting forth the information that she was comfortable with and acknowledging the things that were the gaps in her memory. So that -- as a former prosecutor, I can tell you that only helps her credibility because somebody's not going to falsify a report that has that kind of gap," Clune said.
If Thursday's testimony fails to change the minds of more than one Republican senator, Kavanaugh could be confirmed to the Supreme Court on Friday.