Washington, Sep 28 (AFP) Donald Trump whole-heartedly backed Brett Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination will be put to an initial vote Friday, after a dramatic Senate hearing that saw him furiously fight back against sexual assault allegations dating back decades ago. Also Read - 'Agreed to Deploy Full Strength of India-US Partnership to Fight COVID-19,' PM Modi Dials Trump

America watched transfixed as the gripping day-long hearing opened with Christine Blasey Ford, 51, recounting to a packed room the harrowing details of what she said was an attempted rape by Kavanaugh 36 years ago. Also Read - US Sets New Global Record With 1,480 Deaths in 24 Hours; President Trump Recommends Face Masks

In a passionate defense, the 53-year-old conservative judge insisted before the Senate Judiciary Committee that it never happened, accused Democrats of destroying his reputation and condemned his confirmation battle as a “national disgrace” and a “circus.” “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” the president tweeted just minutes after the close of the hearing. Also Read - Coronavirus: Trump Tests Negative For Second Time, Says 'It Took Just 15 Minutes For The Result'

“His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting,” Trump said. “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!” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump would get his wish, with the Judiciary Committee – which has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – set to vote on its recommendation Friday before the nomination goes to the full Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 edge.

“We’re going to vote in the morning and we’re going to move forward,” McConnell told journalists.

The allegations against Kavanaugh by Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California, have threatened to derail Trump’s bid to tilt the nation’s highest court to the right for years to come.

They come against a backdrop of the #MeToo movement and the hearing included sharp exchanges between Republicans and Democrats mirroring the atmosphere of bitter political partisanship in Washington.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation by Dr Ford,” Kavanaugh said in an opening statement during which his voice shook with anger, repeatedly fighting back tears.

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever,” he said. “I am innocent of this charge.” Earlier, during four hours of testimony, Blasey Ford said she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh was her assailant and it was “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identity.

“I am here today not because I want to be,” Blasey Ford said as she recounted the alleged assault at a high school party at a suburban Maryland home.

“I am terrified,” she said, her voice often quavering. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me.” (AFP) ABH ABH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.