The stakes are high: a lifetime appointment to the swing seat on the Supreme Court. And with just 40 days until the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans in Congress know that Americans will be watching.
In the time since Ford's story was made public, two other women have also come forward with allegations. Kavanaugh has swiftly and repeatedly denied the allegations.
Follow along with ABC News as the high stakes hearing unfolds.
5:46 p.m.: Trump weighs inJust as the hearing concluded, the president fired off a tweet.
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpJudge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!
Check back in later for ABC News' key takeaways from today's Senate hearing.
6:45 p.m.: Chairman Charles Grassley announces the hearing is adjourned close to four hours after Kavanaugh began testifying.
6:40 p.m.: Kavanaugh says he didn't watch Ford's testimonyIn an exchange with California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris, Kavanaugh said he didn't watch Ford's testimony earlier in the day. He said he planned to, but was instead preparing his own.
6:30 p.m.: Cruz empathizes with KavanaughSitting behind Kavanaugh in the front row, his mother, father and wife all appeared to be moved to tears when Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz described watching the judge's mother's "pained face" as her son's character was "dragged through the mud."
Cruz, who also has two daughters, said he also empathized with Kavanaugh as a father.
"I know as a father, there's been nothing more painful to you than talking to your daughters and explaining these attacks that the media is airing," he said.
"I also believe, though, that the American people are a fair-minded people, that the American people can set aside the partisan warfare of Washington and look to substance and facts," Cruz said.
6:33 p.m. Grassley denies leaking Ford's allegationsIf Americans watching this hearing are confused about how Ford's story became public, it seems that the Senate Judiciary Committee is as well.
After a back-and-forth with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, ranking member Feinstein flatly denied that she was the one to leak the letter Ford wrote her in July, and said her staff didn't leak the letter either.
"I'm telling you it was not - I did not," Feinstein said. "I mean, I was asked to keep it confidential. And I'm criticized for that, too."
According to Grassley, based on her interpretation of Ford's testimony earlier in the morning, Ford's story was leaked before the letter became public, likely because she'd spoken to friends about it and later been asked by the Washington Post about it.
6:12 p.m.: Sen. Hirono presses Kavanaugh on "credibility, character, and candor" after recessSen. Hirono pressed Kavanaugh on "credibility, character, and candor" after a brief recess and asked him if he thought he embodied those traits.
He said he felt that he did.
She is one of six senators remaining slated to ask questions for five minutes each.
5:30 p.m.: Kavanaugh apologizes to KlobucharKavanaugh came back into the room after a brief recess and opened with an apology for questioning Klobuchar's drinking habits in a heated exchange.
Asked if he was ready to begin, Kavanaugh said this:
"I was going to say, I started my last colloquy by saying to Senator Klobuchar how much I respect her and respected what she did at the last hearing, and she asked me a question at the end that I responded to by asking her a question. I'm sorry I did that. This is a tough process. I'm sorry about that."
Klobuchar responded that she appreciated his apology. "I would like to add when you have a parent that's an alcoholic, you're pretty careful about drinking," she said.
5:08 p.m.: Kavanaugh flips question on Klobuchar, asks her if she has a drinking problemKlobuchar, a senator from Minnesota and former lawyer, asked Kavanaugh about drinking, blacking out and whether he had foggy memories that would cloud his ability to tell the truth. Kavanaugh asked her about her own experiences.
Here's the exchange.
Klobuchar: "You're saying there's never been a case where you drank so much that you didn't remember what happened the night before or part of what happened?"
Kavanaugh: "If you're asking about blackout. I don't know - have you?"
Klobuchar: "Could you answer the question, judge? ... so, that's not what happened, is that your answer?"
Kavanaugh: "Yeah, and I'm curious if you have."
Klobuchar: "I have no drinking problem, judge."
Kavanaugh: "Nor do I."
Klobuchar: "Okay. Thank you."
The hearing is now on a brief recess.
4:55 p.m.: Questions wade back into the contents of Kavanaugh's yearbookSen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, asked Kavanaugh questions about his high school yearbook that prompted some miffed reactions from the judge.
Whitehouse asked Kavanaugh about a phrase written in the back of his yearbook, "Ralph," and whether it referred to alcohol.
"I like beer," Kavanaugh said. "I don't know if you do. Do you like beer, senator, or not? What do you like to drink? Senator, what do you think like to drink?"
Next, Whitehouse asked about another phrase. "Buffed or boofed, how do you pronounce that?" he asked.
"That refers to flatulence. We were 16," Kavanaugh said to laughter in the room.
"If we want to talk about flatulence at age 16 on a yearbook page, I'm game," Kavanaugh later added.
4:48 p.m.: Graham's fierce defense of KavanaughIn one of the most emotionally charged moments of the hearing thus far, Sen. Graham took his opportunity to question to stridently criticize what he characterized as craven partisan politics aimed at destroying Kavanaugh's character in an effort to hold open the Supreme Court seat until 2020.
Graham told his Republican colleagues that if they vote no on Kavanaugh, they're "legitimizing the most despicable thing I've seen in politics."
To Democrats, he had a challenge:
"If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You said that, not me," he said.
Then, he turned to Kavanaugh.
"You've got nothing to apologize for," he said.
4:15 p.m.: The Kavanaugh hearing resumes with a fiery exchangeThe hearing is back underway and Kavanaugh and Sen. Leahy are engaged in a sharp back-and-forth about the nominee's time in high school.
"No, no no, I'm going to talk about my high school record if you are going to sit here and mock me," Kavanaugh said then described his involvement in high school sports, volunteer work and other activities as a teen.
As a committee staffer held up a picture of Kavanaugh's high school photo and a description of his partygoing persona, the nominee bristled.
"If we wanna sit here and discuss if a Supreme Court nomination should be based on a high school yearbook page I think that's taking it to a new level of absurdity."
4:15 p.m.: Images from the Kavanaugh hearing capture the emotional and historic momentThe images are stark: Ford nervously pushing back her hair as she spoke to the committee at an internationally televised congressional hearing.
Kavanaugh fighting back tears of frustration as he described the toll the "political circus" has taken on his life.
Here is the day in pictures.
4:10 p.m.: Kavanaugh hearing on a brief breakFollowing an emotionally-charged opening, the hearing is now on a brief break.
4:02 p.m. Kavanaugh tells Feinstein he'll 'do whatever the committee wants' and calls Swetnick accusation 'a joke'Kavanaugh, seemingly frustrated after his 45-minute opening statement, received his first question from ranking member Feinstein. She asked why he didn't ask for an FBI investigation for "some outside authority."
"Senator, I'll do whatever the committee wants. I wanted a hearing the day after the allegation came up. I wanted to be here that day. Instead ten days past where all this nonsense is coming out," Kavanaugh said.
He added that whatever the committee decides, he's "all in."
"Immediately. I'm all in immediately," he said.
He repeatedly emphasized that it was an "outrage" that he had to wait 10 days - which he said denied him the chance to clear his name.
Near the end of her questioning, Feinstein sought to wrap it up. Kavanaugh denied the allegations and specifically called a sworn declaration to the committee by one woman, Julie Swetnick of Washington, D.C., "a joke."
In the declaration, Swetnick, who's represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, said she observed Kavanaugh at more than 10 house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the early 1980s. She alleges she saw Kavanaugh intoxicated and engage in what she called "highly inappropriate conduct," including "the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent."
Feinstein: "And what you're saying, if I understand it, is that the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick are wrong."
Kavanaugh: "That is emphatically what I'm saying. Emphatically. The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce."
Feinstein: "Would you like to say more about it?"
4:00 p.m.: Capitol Police report 59 arrestsAll day, leading up to and during Kavanaugh and Ford's testimony, protesters both for and against the Supreme Court nominee demonstrated at the Capitol and in the streets at the Supreme Court. Around 4 p.m., Capitol Police reported 59 arrests, mainly for "crowding, obstructing and incommoding."
ABC News' Tara Palmeri reports from the Supreme Court steps.
Police starting to detain anti-Kavanaugh protesters after blocking the road outside the Supreme Court for over an hour in the rain pic.twitter.com/0W26YlIfi8
- Tara Palmeri (@tarapalmeri) September 27, 2018
3:46 p.m.: Sources watching think Kavanaugh doing well - one to ABC News "the President will love it all"Two sources close to the president both said Trump was concerned after Ford testified believing she was compelling, credible and that the Republican prosecutor was not effective, ABC News' John Santucci reports.
Those sources watching Kavanaugh opening say he's been "very strong" and "did what he needed to do".
When asked about the very angry opening by the judge and several moments of breaking down in tears, a source with insight tells ABC News "the president will love it all - what's not to like?"
In the first official comment on Kavanaugh from inside the White House since the start of Thursday's hearing communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp tweeted "Brett Kavanaugh is a man of highest integrity".
Her tweet came as Kavanaugh concluded his 45-minute opening statement.
3:45 p.m.: HUD employees watching Kavanaugh hearing are overwhelming internal computer networksFederal employees, like the rest of Washington, were so glued to their computers that the Department of Housing and Urban Development at one point directed its employees to stop watching the event on their work computers because the mass live streaming was overwhelming its networks, ABC News' Anne Flaherty reports.
An agency spokesman confirmed an alert sent to HUD employees that threatened to temporarily block the hearing from government computers "if the high volume persists." The spokesman said, however, that no blocking would occur.
3:35 p.m.: Ford not watching Kavanaugh's testimony, source saysA source on Ford's legal team tells ABC News' Cindy Smith that Ford is not watching Kavanaugh's testimony.
Ford lawyers Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich are both inside the hearing room two rows behind Ashley Kavanaugh.
3:24 p.m.: Kavanaugh on the "political circus"Kavanaugh spoke of what he called a political "circus" since the allegation that he sexually assaulted Ford publicly emerged.
"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," he said.
"This is a circus."
Kavanaugh spoke of the background investigations, hearings, meetings and questions he'd gone through before this public hearing on the allegations brought forward by Ford.
"Throughout that entire time, throughout my 53 years and seven months on this Earth until last week, no one ever accused me of any kind of sexual misconduct, no one ever. A lifetime, a lifetime of public service and a lifetime of high-profile public service at the highest levels of American government. And never a hint of anything of this kind. And that's because nothing of this kind ever happened," Kavanaugh said.
"I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation. I have never sexually assaulted Dr. Ford or anyone," he said.
He made a point not to question Ford's experience with sexual assault but denied that he was the perpetrator.
"Again, I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone," Kavanaugh said.
3:14 p.m.: Kavanaugh: "frenzy on the left' to block his confirmationWith his wife sitting behind him, Kavanaugh was sworn in under oath before the committee, sat down and began to speak loudly and defiantly, as Ashley Kavanaugh, his wife, held back tears.
A visibly agitated Kavanaugh read from remarks he said he wrote the night before and defended his character against what he says has been a full-on attempt on the left to block his confirmation.
"There has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation," he said.
Kavanaugh laid out what he sees as the months-long character assassination by Democrats who he accused of seizing on the opportunity, sacrificing Ford's privacy and his own reputation to further a political agenda ahead of the midterms.
"This has destroyed my family and my good name," he said, adding: "This has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit."
3:10 p.m.: Kavanaugh is sworn in, reads statement he says only one other person has seenWith his wife sitting behind him, Kavanaugh was sworn in under oath before the committee, sat down and began to speak. He spoke loudly and defiantly, as Ashley Kavanaugh, his wife, held back tears.
He said he wrote his statement Wednesday afternoon and evening, and that no one had seen a draft except for one of his former law clerks.
"This has destroyed my family and my good name," Kavanaugh said. He spoke of the "frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation."
Here's an excerpt:
"Shortly after I was nominated, the Democratic Senate Leader said he would, quote, 'oppose me with everything he's got.' A Democratic senator on this committee publicly referred to me as 'evil.' Evil. Think about that word. And said that those who supported me were, quote, 'complicit in evil'."
"Another Democratic senator on this committee said, quote, 'Judge Kavanaugh is your worst nightmare.' A former head of the democratic national committee said, quote, 'Judge Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come'."
"I understand the passions of the moment. But I would say to those senators, your words have meaning," he said. "Millions of Americans listened carefully to you. Given comments like those, is it any surprise that people have been willing to do anything, to make any physical threat against my family, to send any violent email to my wife, to make any kind of allegation against me and against my friends, to blow me up and take me down."
Brett Kavanaugh: "This confirmation process has become a national disgrace."
"Since my nomination in July, there's been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation," he adds https://t.co/kFr2EJ9Z1F #KavanaughHearings pic.twitter.com/LNSX7m2pyI
- ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 27, 2018
3:10 p.m.: Kavanaugh sworn inKavanaugh was sworn in shortly after 3 pm.
2:41 p.m.: Mood in the West WingIt is raining at the White House right now - and the president is holed up inside the residence. He is not watching this from the Oval Office in the West Wing.
"It's not playing well for Kavanaugh," one senior official there tells ABC News' Jordyn Phelps.
A source close to the White House tells Katherine Faulders of the early reaction from Trumpland: "It's still been quiet. Everyone is locked away. The next four hours will decide the Supreme Court and possibly the midterms."
All the TVs in the West Wing are tuned to Fox News -the volume turned up loud. So loud that when ABC News walked into one office area, an aide had to get up to turn down the TV.
"Watching, just watching," said senior WH adviser Mercedes Schlapp who was hunkered in her office - the only one with the door open.
Vice President Mike Pence, who had been closely involved with Trump's selection of Kavanaugh, canceled a planned appearance at a White House economic summit this morning to focus on the hearing, his office tells us.
He is glued to the TV as well.
ABC News' Meridith McGraw, Alexander Mallin, Katherine Faulders and Jordyn Phelps reported.
2:31 p.m.: Alyssa Milano "I'm hoping to hear honesty, but I don't know if that's what we're gonna get"Alyssa Milano, the actress and activist who has vocally spoken out about sexual assault, spoke with ABC News' John Parkinson just outside of the hearing room about why she felt it was important to be present in the hearing.
"It was important for me to be here," she said. "It took me a long time as a survivor to be public and come to terms with my own assault."
While she says she's eager to hear Kavanaugh's testimony she said she doubts those listening will hear the truth from the nominee.
"I'm hoping to hear honesty, but I don't know if that's what we're gonna get," she said.
2:31 p.m.: Sen. Graham on the case for KavanaughSen. Lindsey Graham, during the hearing recess, gave a forceful defense of the case for Kavanaugh and the case against Ford.
He was fiery and seemed like he was delivering a speech to rally the Republican troops, ABC News' Justin Fishel reports.
"We are going to hear from Mr. Kavanagh, Judge Kavanaugh. I have been a judge, prosecutor, and a defense attorney. When it comes to where it happened, I still don't know. I don't know whether it happened. She says she is 100 percent certain it did happen. I bet you judge Kavanaugh will say I'm 100% sure I didn't do it." Graham said.
"The people named say they don't know what Ms. Ford is talking about. She can't tell us how she got home and how she got there. That is the facts I'm left with, a nice lady.... who has come forward to tell a hard story that is uncorroborated," he said. "This is enough, based on what I heard today you cannot get a search warrant or an arrest warrant because you don't know the location, time and you don't have corroboration. As to Ms. Mitchell, that is what I hoped she would do."
2:08 p.m.: Hearing in recessThe hearing concluded for an hour-long recess after a line of questioning where Mitchell pointed out the best practices for interviewing "victims of trauma."
Here's the full exchange.
Mitchell: "Are you aware that - and you know I've been really impressed today because you've talked about norepinephrine and cortisol, and what we call in the profession, basically the neurobiological effects of trauma. Have you also educated yourself on the best way to get to memory and truth in terms of interviewing victims of trauma?"
Ford: "For me, interviewing victims of trauma?"
Mitchell: "No. The best way to do it. The best practices for interviewing victims of trauma."
Ford: "Would you believe me if I told you that there's no study that says this setting in five-minute increments is the best way to do that?"
Laughter from the senators ensues.
Mitchell: "Did you know that the best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer talk to you one-on-one in a private setting and to let you do the talking. Just let you do a narrative. Did you know that?"
Ford: "That makes a lot of sense."
Mitchell: "It does make a lot of sense doesn't it."
Mitchell: "To follow up, to fill in the details and ask for clarification. Does that make sense as well?"
Mitchell: "And the research is done by a lot of people in the child abuse field, two of the more prominent ones in the sexual assault field are [Geiselman] and Fisher who have talked about it and its called a cognitive interview. This is not a cognitive interview. Did anybody ever advise you from Senator Feinstein's office or from representative Eshoo's office to go get a forensic interview?"
Mitchell: "Instead, you were advised to get an attorney and take a polygraph? Is that right?"
Ford: "Many people advised me to get an attorney. Once I had an attorney, my attorney and I discussed using the polygraph."
Mitchell: "And instead of submitting to an interview in California, we're having a hearing here today in five-minute increments, is that right?"
Ford: "I agree that's what was agreed upon by the collegial group here."
Mitchell: "Thank you. I have no further questions."
2:00 p.m.: Kamala Harris to Ford: "You are not on trial"In an emotional exchange between Harris and Ford, the senator from California told Ford that she believes her, and thinks many around the country do as well.
"Dr. Ford, you know you are not on trial," she said. "You are not on trial. You are sitting here before members of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee because you had the courage to come forward because as you said, you believe it's your civic duty."
Harris, a former prosecutor, said in her experience, fear of consequences causes survivors to delay reporting and pointed out Ford's willingness to share her story now.
"You have passed a polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not. You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify. Judge Kavanaugh has not. But most importantly, you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not," Harris said.
1:36 p.m.: The hearing continuesThe hearing is now back from recess, and first up to resume questioning is Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono.
The Hawaiian senator called the hearing "a moment for our country."
Prior to the hearing, Hirono was a vocal critic of the Republican committee leadership for procedural decisions regarding Ford's claims.
"I would like to have us come together and figure out what is the best way to proceed," she said. "Not this seat of the pants stuff, and the latest being a letter from the chairman to the Democrats saying we have done everything we can to contact her-that is such bullshit I can hardly stand it."
Before sitting back down for the rest of Ford's questioning, Feinstein told ABC News' Ali Rogin that seeing Ford now sheds light on the way this alleged incident has impacted her life for the past 30 years.
"I think she's 100 percent credible and believable, and when you look at her as she how she must have been when she was 15, you see the enormity of what happened to her," Feinstein said.
1:31 p.m.: The hearing watched around the countryAmericans are watching.
Glued to their TVs, laptops and phone screens as they watch Ford's testimony and the ongoing hearing, some Americans are watching on planes, some from classrooms, and others in conference rooms. Here is a look at audiences from across the country:
HAPPENING NOW: Students at @Hofstra_Law watching the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing pic.twitter.com/IR4gcHSX1I
- Kristin Thorne (@KristinThorne) September 27, 2018Watching the hearing with my students this morning. Remembering how I felt watching Anita Hill when I was in their shoes. pic.twitter.com/AibUpXRjHG
- Christine Farley (@Prof_Farley) September 27, 2018
12:52 p.m.: Here's what's happening on the sidelinesOn the sidelines of the high stakes hearing, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch opined on Ford credibility saying: "I don't find her un-credible. I think she's an attractive, good witness."
When pressed further by ABC News' Ben Siegel, about what he means by "attractive," he responded, "In other words, pleasing ... she's attractive, a nice person. I wish her well."
His spokesman, Matt Whitlock later sought to clarify the remarks.
"Hatch uses 'attractive' to describe personalities, not appearances," he said. "If you search his past quotes you'll see he's used it consistently for years for men and women he believed has compelling personalities."
Earlier in the week, Hatch challenged Ford's account telling CNN on Monday he believed she must be "mistaken" about Kavanaugh as the accuser.
The president might be keeping silent (at least publicly) on the ongoing hearing, but his son, Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to challenge Ford's claim that she has a fear of flying.
This fear, she said, was why she was adverse to coming to Washington to testify.
ABC News' Mary Bruce caught up with a few senators in the halls of the Dirksen building on Capitol Hill, as they filed out of the hearing room one-by-one.
"Just in the last hour, three different women have reached out to me who I know from Delaware to share with me their stories of surviving sexual assault," Sen. Coons said. "I've heard from other senators this is also happening to their offices and to them personally. So first, it is striking how many survivors of sexual assault are watching and are choosing this moment to come forward with their accounts. I think that speaks to what a public service is being done here by having a measured and respectful hearing of Dr. Ford's allegations."
Sen. Klobuchar's take on her GOP counterparts?
"I think that they look muted," the Minnesota senator said. "They're sitting there, they look like they want to respond, but they made a decision not to really do their constitutional duty and participate in this hearing. That's their choice. What I think the big lesson that came out of this is that this woman is extraordinary. She's calm. She's honest. And I think that's what our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are seeing today."
Sen. Blumenthal reaffirmed those sentiments, telling ABC News, "In my view, Dr. Blasey Ford has been highly believable, and there's a burden now on Judge Kavanaugh to rebut these serious and credible allegations."
Among those watching history from inside the room are two students in uniform from Holton Arms - the same school that Ford attended at the time of the alleged incident, ABC News' Tara Palmeri reports.
The two high school seniors have been rotating in and out of the hearing with one ticket. They wouldn't make any political comments or talk about a culture of partying at Washington D.C.'s elite private schools but said they are there to support their alumna.
12:44 p.m.: GOP raises question on polygraph testBefore the committee recessed for lunch, as they entered hour three of the hearing, Mitchell, the counselor for Republicans on the committee, spent a full five minutes questioning with precision the validity of the polygraph test.
Here is the exchange:
Mitchell: "Why was that location chosen for the polygraph?"
Ford: "I had left my grandmother's funeral in Fort Lincoln cemetery that day and was on a tight schedule to get a plane to Manchester, New Hampshire. So he was willing to come to me, which was appreciated."
Mitchell: "So he administered a polygraph on the day you attended your grandmother's funeral?"
Ford: "Correct. Or it might have been the next day. I spent the night in the hotel. I don't remember the exact day."
Mitchell: "Have you ever had discussions with anyone besides your attorneys on how to take a polygraph?"
Mitchell: "And I don't just mean countermeasures but I mean just any sort of tips or anything like that?"
Ford: "No. I was scared of the test itself but was comfortable that I could tell the information and the test would reveal whatever it was going to reveal. I didn't expect it to be as long as it was going to be so it was a little bit stressful."
Mitchell: "Have you ever given tips or advice to somebody who is looking to take a polygraph test?"
Eight Republican senators have now yielded questioning to Mitchell.
12:37 p.m.: 'A teaching moment': Connecticut Sen. BlumenthalQuoting an excerpt from a 2015 book written by his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who also sits on the committee, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, read to the hearing room: "Of his prosecutions of rape cases, I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailant. I learned how much courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailant."
He called the hearing "a teaching moment" and praised Ford for her bravery in coming before the committee to publicly testify against her alleged assailant.
"You have given America an amazing teaching moment and you may have other moments in the classroom, but you have inspired and you have enlightened America," he said. "You have inspired and given courage to women. You have inspired and enlightened men in America to listen respectfully to women survivors and men who have survived sexual attack, that is a profound public service regardless of what happens with this nomination."
12:27 p.m.: Ford says alleged sexual assault has 'impacted me' for yearsFord described in exacting detail how the incident has impacted her throughout her life, especially during her first few years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"It's impacted me at different stages of the development of my life," she said in response to a question from Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. "The immediate impact was probably the worst.
"I think I described earlier a fairly disastrous first two years of undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina," she said.
She added that once she was "finally able to pull myself together" and cope with the immediate impacts of short-term impacts she experienced "longer-term impacts of anxiety and relationship challenges."
Coons then proceeded to ask for her response to a frequently used defense by her critics, "that this was a high school incident and boys will be boys."
"I can only speak for how it has impacted me greatly for the last 36 years," she said. "Even though I was 15 years old at the time. I think, you know, the younger you are when these things happen, it can possibly have worse impacts than ... when your brain is fully developed and you have better coping skills that you developed."
12:15 p.m.: The first contentious moment of the dayAfter Sen. Klobuchar asked to submit Ford's polygraph test results to the record, Ford's lawyer interjected to tell the committee chairman that the legal team proposed having the polygraph examiner testify, a request he rejected.
"We'll accept, without objection, what you have asked to include," Grassley stated. "We're also requesting and expect the other materials I stated."
Klobuchar noted, "Mr. Chairman, you wouldn't allow the underlying witness who performed the polygraph test to testify, nor would you allow mark judge to testify. So I would just like to point out, thank you for allowing the report in the record but that is the reason that we don't have the underlying information for you."
"You got what you wanted and I think you would be satisfied," Grassley said.
"I am satisfied," Klobuchar replied.
12:14 p.m.: Trump ponders prosecutor's effectiveness: SourceA source close to Trump says they're not sure this prosecutor is being effective as they hoped, according to ABC News' John Santucci.
11:47 a.m.: The hearing resumesThe Republicans, still yielding to Mitchell, begin their questioning after the brief break about where the location of the gathering was relative to her house, and how Ford returned home after the alleged incident.
Displaying a map of the distance between her parent's home and the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Mitchell asked: "We calculated the distance from the closest point to your house from a mile radius of the country club, and then the farthest point. You can see it's 6.2 and of course 8.2 miles. And you've described this as being near the country club, wherever this house was. Is that right?"
"I would describe it as somewhere between my house and the country club in that vicinity that's shown in your picture."
After confirming that it would be "fair to say" that someone drove her to or from the party, as Mitchell put it, Ford admitted that no one came forward as the person who drove her.
11:45 a.m.: Trump, along with the rest of the country, is watchingUpon landing in Washington, press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that the president was watching Ford's testimony.
She added that the president has not spoken to Kavanaugh today.
A close ally and friend of the president tells ABC News' Jonathan Karl, "If you want her to be compelling, I guess it is."
11:30 a.m.: Committee enters 15-minute breakBefore gavelling for a 15-minute break, Grassley's anger towards how Ford's allegation was handled by Democrats was apparent.
"I cannot let it go by what you've heard me say so many times that between July 30th and September 13th there were 45 days this committee could have been investigating this situation and her privacy would have been protected," he said.
When asked by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., "With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?"
Ford responded: "100 percent."
Leaving the committee room, Grassley was asked if he finds Ford to be credible, he told reporters I know we need to "take her very seriously."
We will resume after the break.
11:09 a.m.: 'The laughter' is seared in Ford's memoryTwo powerful moments emerged amid questioning from Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Recalling the parallels from a hearing over two decades ago during then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing, Leahy said the Senate "failed" Anita Hill.
"Chairman, you and I were both here 27 years ago," he said. "At that time the Senate failed Anita hill. I said I believed her, but I'm concerned that we're doing a lot less for these three women today. That's my personal view."
"Now, Dr. Ford, no matter what happens with this hearing today, no matter what happens to this nomination, I know and I hear from my own state of Vermont, there are millions of victims and survivors out there who have been inspired by your courage ... We owe you a debt of gratitude for that, doctor."
Shortly after, Leahy asked her, "What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget?"
A poignant moment arose as Ford responded: "The laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and they're having fun at my expense."
"You never have forgotten that laughter," he posed.
"They were laughing with each other," she reiterated.
11:07 a.m.:'Absolutely not': Ford tackles questions of her accountAfter coming forward, Ford contended with questions of the accuracy of her memory, and if this could be a case of mistaken identity.
When asked directly by Feinstein, "What you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?"
Ford asserted: "Absolutely not."
11:00 a.m.: Democrats begin questions, with Feinstein at the helmSen. Feinstein in her questions to Ford asked the college professor to describe why she wanted to keep her claims out of the public sphere and initially and what prompted that change.
Her first question: "Why have you held it to yourself all these years?"
Followed by: "Can you tell us, is there any other way this has affected your life?"
"The primary impact was in the initial four years after the event," Ford responded. "I struggled academically. I struggled very much in Chapel Hill and in college when I was 17 and went off to college, I had a very hard time, more so than others, forming new friendships, especially friendships with boys, and I had academic problems."
10:52 a.m.: Grassley yields to prosecutor Rachel MitchellThe stage now belongs to former sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who is tasked with questioning Ford on behalf of the Republicans.
"I just wanted to tell you the first thing that struck me from your statement this morning was that you were terrified, and I just wanted to let you know I'm very sorry," she began.
Her first question: "Are those three comments accurate?"
She's referring to text messages sent on July 6 and July 10 over Whatsapp.
10:52 a.m.: GOP Senators riveted by Ford's testimony"Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves when and whether their private experience is made public," Ford said.
As she makes public the most traumatic moment of her life, you could hear a pin drop in the hearing room.
Senators - in particular, Republicans - are listening intently to Ford. Senators Ben Sasse and Mike Lee are pitched forward on the edge of their seats.
Sasse looks particularly emotional, with a furrowed brow and sometimes squinting.
Sen. Orrin Hatch visibly cringed when the heated details of the assault were recounted.
Sen. Jeff Flake is sitting back, hand on chin - listening intently.
This isn't your average hearing where members are doing other things. They are listening to every word.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar nodded her head when the awful details were recounted.
"Mr. Kavanaugh's confirmation was virtually certain, persons painted him as a champion of women's rights and empowerment," Ford said, taking a brief pause before she continued. "And I believed that if I came forward, my single voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters."
ABC News' Trish Turner reports from inside the hearing room.
10:40 a.m.:'I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me': FordFor the first time, a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill, and the rest of the country heard Ford deliver the intimate details of the sexual assault she alleges Kavanaugh committed.
"I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me," she began. "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."
"I believed he was going to rape me," Ford continued. "I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is 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."
"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."
10:37 a.m.: Ford sworn inFord took the stand and began to lay out for lawmakers the world she came of age in: a bucolic suburban and upper middle-class Maryland setting.
"It is where I met Brett Kavanaugh", she said.
As she continued, her voice trembling, Ford continued: "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."
10:27 a.m.: Feinstein rebuffs Grassley's criticisms in opening remarksInvoking the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement, Feinstein offered a sharp rebuke of Grassley's criticism of her handling of Ford's sexual assault allegation, saying any reticence to push forward initially was "because [of] how women are treated in the United States."
The ranking Democrat on the committee devoted a significant portion of her remarks to underscore the epidemic of sexual violence in this country.
"Sexual violence is a serious problem, and one that largely goes unseen," she said.
"There's been a great deal of public discussion about the #MeToo movement today versus the year of the woman almost 27 years ago," she continued. "But while young women are standing up and saying no more, our institutions have not progressed in how they treat women who come forward. Too often, women's memories and credibility come under assault. In essence, they are put on trial and forced to defend themselves and often revictimized in the process. "
10:15 a.m.: Grassley apologizes to Ford and Kavanaugh for 'vile threats'Grassley delivered his opening remarks, spending most of his time recounting the process that culminated in the hearing, criticizing Feinstein for her handling of the allegation of sexual assault by Ford "at the 11th hour."
He apologized for the treatment Ford and Kavanaugh have both endured since the allegation emerged.
"Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have been through a terrible couple weeks," Grassley said in his opening remarks. "They and their families have received vile threats. What they have endured ought to be considered by all of us as unacceptable and a poor reflection on the state of civility in our democracy. So I want to apologize to you both for the way you've been treated."
"Now it's up to the Senate to assess their credibility," he added. "Which brings us to this very time ... The testimony we will hear today concerns allegations of sexual assault, very serious allegations. This is an incredibly complex and sensitive subject to discuss and it's not an easy one to discuss. That is why the senators on this side of the Diaz believe that an expert who has training in interviewing victims of sexual assault and investigating sexual assault allegations should be asking questions. This will be a stark contrast to the grandstanding and chaos that we saw from the other side during the previous four days in this hearing process."
10:05 a.m.: The hearing is now underwayThe hearing that could decide the fate of the Supreme Court is now underway.
Chairman Grassley opened the hearing with remarks, to be followed by ranking member Feinstein.
With all eyes on Kavanaugh and his accuser, their opening statements will begin shortly.