Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh offered emotional testimony Thursday about what a "circus" his confirmation process has become and denounced the sexual assault allegations that have "destroyed" his name.
Trump had canceled today's planned meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein so as to free up his time to watch the hearing at which one of Kavanaugh's accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, testified.
The letter was the first time Ford says she told anyone other than her husband and therapist that Kavanaugh was the man who allegedly sexually assaulted her in high school in the early 1980s.
The 51-year-old mother of two said the incident was seared into her mind through trauma, while admitting some gaps in her memory around the attack.
Kavanaugh, 53, has strenuously denied assaulting anyone and insists he is the victim of a "smear campaign".
The Democratic senators will have free reign to ask questions.
She said Mr Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, were drunk at the 1982 party when they pushed her into a bedroom.
"You say it was Brett Kavanaugh that covered your mouth to prevent you from screaming", the senator said. Dianne Feinstein when he said: "The Swetnick thing is a joke, that's a farce".
"Probably refers to throwing up", Kavanaugh said.
Brett Kavanaugh says family name 'destroyed' by sex assault claim
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. "I am innocent of this charge", Kavanaugh said, according to his written opening statement . She said that Kavanaugh's declaration of "innocence" and lack of sexual inactivity in high school on Fox News is a lie.
"The allegations raised by Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez against Judge Kavanaugh are serious, merit further review, and I believe should be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation", he said in a statement. Rachel Mitchell, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona who asked all questions for the committee's all-male GOP senators, seemed to elicit no significant inconsistencies in her testimony.
Cornyn explained her absence, saying there was "some frustration among the senators that they thought there were arguments that needed to be made, that she frankly was not equipped to make".
"I remember being hooked up to a machine, being placed on my body and being asked a lot of questions, and crying a lot", Ford said.
Republicans are nonetheless working against a clock to confirm Kavanaugh.
Ford began her testimony by describing the anxiety accompanying her appearance before the committee.
Ford also said in her opening statement that she did not have political motivations. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., led the way with a scorching denunciation of Democrats for raising the allegations against Kavanaugh in the final days of the confirmation process.
Mitchell appeared intent on making an issue of Ford's statement that she had declined to fly from her home in California to speak with the committee due to her fear of flying-asking how often Ford had flown for business of vacation.
Ford leaned into her microphone and answered: "100 percent".
As Anita Hill did more two decades ago when she alleged sexual misconduct by Clarence Thomas, the mom of two testified before a committee with only male senators on the Republican side of the dais. The committee is now comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, leaving the majority with little margin for error - if just one Republican breaks, the nomination will be left in limbo.