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"But right now there are too many unanswered questions to bring the confirmation of Kavanaugh ― currently a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ― to a vote of the Judiciary Committee as scheduled on Friday, much less to a vote of the full Senate".

Democrats pressed the judge to call for an FBI investigation into the claims, but he would say only, "I welcome whatever the committee wants to do".

But Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, hit out at the Democrats following Blasey Ford's testimony. She said Trump thought Kavanaugh's testimony was "powerful, it was riveting and it was honest".

Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, and can only afford one defection in their bid to confirm Kavanaugh, assuming they secure no Democratic votes. The committee will vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Friday. Rachel Mitchell, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona who asked all questions of Ford for the committee's all-male GOP senators, seemed to elicit no significant inconsistencies.

The governor, he said Thursday, "continues to support Trump and this troubling nominee".

Mr Kavanaugh's ascendance to the high court could help lock in a conservative majority for a generation, shaping dozens of rulings on abortion, regulation, the environment and more.

"Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist", Trump wrote. Dianne Feinstein of California, asked how she could be sure that Kavanaugh was the attacker, Ford said, "The same way I'm sure I'm talking to you right now".

In the hours after the hearing Thursday, one previously undecided Republican came out in support of Kavanaugh. Sanders tweeted that Graham "has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined".

Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont for her strongest memory of the alleged incident, Ford mentioned the two boys' "laughter - the uproarious laughter between the two and they're having fun at my expense".

Christine Blasey Ford testifies on Kavanaugh allegations at Senate
Another woman, Deborah Ramirez , has since told U.S. media that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a college party in the 1980s. While Republicans want to move forward, they are mindful of the fallout if they do not take the accusations seriously.

"Time will tell", he said, "and I think it's important for people to hear both sides".

That prompted Feinstein to protest, blaming the leak to the media or "beach friends" with whom Ford testified she discussed the claims. Later, an emotional and emphatic Kavanaugh denied it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will "keep the process moving", although a final vote won't be held until the Federal Bureau of Investigation finishes its inquiry.

THE FACTS: The witness statements in question do not corroborate Ford's allegations, but they also do not exonerate Kavanaugh.

In addition to Blasey Ford, two other women have come forward with allegations of assault against Kavanaugh, against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement.

She says while they were both in high school in 1982, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to rip off her clothes as he pinned her down on a bed. The Kavanaugh hearings played out like a courtroom drama though no one was on trial at Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"I strongly object. What a railroad job", said Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, after the decision.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a swing vote on a court now divided between four conservative and four liberal justices.

He lashed out over the time it took the committee to convene the hearing after Ford's allegations emerged, singling out the Democrats for "unleashing" forces against him. She said he and Judge had also turned the music up to a loud volume. The official said aides understood that Trump was reacting positively to the performance. Swetnick, represented by Michael Avenatti who fought for porn actress Stormy Daniels, said in a statement which was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were present at a party where she was drugged and "gang raped".

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called the way Kavanaugh was being treated a "national disgrace", worse than the attacks on Clarence Thomas (who got confirmed) and Robert Bork (who didn't).