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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The woman who sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this year accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school during the early 1980s has spoken publicly for the first time to The Washington Post.

The big picture: Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, told the Post that she decided to come forward because she felt her "civic responsibility" began "outweighing [her] anguish and terror about retaliation." Ford does not remember all of the details of the alleged incident — such as the exact time or location — but says she took a lie detector test administered by a former FBI agent in August, which determined she was telling the truth when she said her account of that night was accurate.

The details:

  • Ford claims that during a house party one summer — she believes it was 1982, when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17 — Kavanaugh and one of his friends corralled her into a bedroom, where he allegedly pinned her down, groped her, and clumsily attempted to pull off her clothes while intoxicated.
  • Ford said when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth: "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," she told the Post. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."
  • She said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh's friend jumped on top of them and knocked them all to the floor.
  • Ford didn't tell anyone about the incident in any detail until 2012, when she discussed it during a visit to a couples therapist with her husband. Portions of the therapist's notes were reviewed by the Post and show Ford described being attacked by boys from an elite private school, though she does not mention Kavanaugh by name.

The White House sent the Post a statement issued by Kavanaugh last week after the allegations were first reported: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."

  • Both Kavanaugh and the White House had no further comment about Ford's specific on-the-record allegations after requests from the Post.

The bottom line: What was previously an anonymous allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh is now backed by a name, a detailed account, and on-the-record quotes.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).