Ford had already moved 3,000 miles away from the affluent Maryland suburbs where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party — a charge he would emphatically deny. Suddenly, living in California didn’t seem far enough. Maybe another hemisphere would be. She went online to research other democracies where her family might settle, including New Zealand.
“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”
.. On the day that Ford publicly identified herself as Kavanaugh’s accuser in an interview with The Washington Post, her husband was driving their 15-year-old son and his friends from a soccer tournament in Lake Tahoe. He couldn’t answer the calls that were blowing up his phone; by the time they reached home, a crowd of reporters was waiting.
.. Russell struggled to explain it to his children. “I said that Mommy had a story about a Supreme Court nominee, and now it’s broken into the news, and we can’t stay in the house anymore,” he recalled. The family was separated for days, with the boys staying with friends and their parents living at a hotel. They’ve looked into a security service to escort their children to school.
.. Quietly, she garnered a reputation for her research on depression, anxiety and resilience after trauma — telling almost no one what she herself had endured.
.. Ford’s inner circle was, “How do you say this? The pretty, popular girls,” explained Andrea Evers, a close friend. “It wasn’t like we were a bunch of vapid preppies, but God, we were preppy then.”
.. the drinking age was 18 then
.. frequently left the girls feeling embattled.
“The boys were pretty brutal,” Evers said. “They would do what they could to get you drunk, and do whatever they would try to do to you.”
.. Kavanaugh and his classmate Mark Judge had started drinking earlier than others, she said, and the two were “stumbling drunk” when they pushed her into a bedroom.
.. Her biggest fear afterward, she recalled 37 years later, was looking as if she had just been attacked. So she carried herself as if she wasn’t. Down the stairs. Out the door. Onto the rest of her high school years, she said. On graduation day, she wore the required white dress and carried red roses. She told no one.
.. Years later, Ford would describe college as a time when she “derailed,” struggling with symptoms of trauma she did not yet understand.
.. She’d been a cheerleader in high school and joined a sorority, but the lifestyle was too much like the place from which she’d come. Despite the talent for math she had shown in high school, one college classmate recalled Ford failing a statistics class.
.. “He said, ‘You’re really smart, and you’re just like totally [messed] up,’ ” Ford recalled. She remembers him saying, “ ‘What are you doing? . . . Everybody’s getting it together but you’re like not.’ It was kind of a harsh talk.”
If she was going to graduate on time, he said, she ought to major in psychology. The major didn’t require students to take classes in a specific order, so Ford could take them all at once.
That was how Christine Blasey Ford came to spend her life researching trauma and if it is possible to get past it.
.. “I think she had really reinvented herself,” said Jeff Harris, her supervisor at the University of Hawaii counseling center. “A surfer from California is a different image than a prep-school girl from Bethesda.”
.. He knew that more than a love of water had brought her west.
“She didn’t always get along with her parents because of differing political views,” Russell said. “It was a very male-dominated environment. Everyone was interested in what’s going on with the men, and the women are sidelined, and she didn’t get the attention or respect she felt she deserved. That’s why she was in California, to get away from the D.C. scene.”
.. As their relationship deepened, Ford told him she’d been physically abused years earlier. He would learn the specifics of the event, including Kavanaugh’s name, during a couple’s therapy session years later. But then, he just listened.
.. Her master’s thesis explored the relationship between trauma and depression.
.. admired by colleagues for her analytical mind and inventive mathematical models.
.. She took a particular interest in resilience and post-traumatic growth — the ideas that people who endure trauma can return to normal and even wind up stronger than before. Ford said she has given speeches about this topic to students, telling them, “You can always recover.”
.. She will probably be asked to detail every moment of the alleged attack. How much she had to drink. Why she went upstairs. What she was wearing.
Interviews with friends and acquaintances of Dr. Ford paint a picture of a guarded person, one more interested in discussions of sports and science than politics and personal trauma.
.. In recent days, Dr. Ford has faced online intimidation and death threats, and her family relocated from their northern California home, her lawyers said. This harassment, her lawyers said late Tuesday, has made her reluctant to testify Monday about details of a night she has rarely discussed and has said she struggles to remember. While she had initially agreed to testify, her lawyers said she would only do so after an FBI investigation into her allegation, which Republicans have rebuffed, saying nothing new would be learned.
Dr. Ford’s friends describe her as credible and trustworthy; Judge Kavanaugh’s have defended him as respectful and honorable.
Dr. Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, graduated from the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., not far from the Georgetown Preparatory School Judge Kavanaugh attended. High-school classmates recalled her as a kind and popular cheerleader who played soccer and was on the diving team.
“She was one of the nicest ones,” said Eliza Knable, who was in the same high-school class but not part of the same friend group as Dr. Ford.
Many Holton-Arms students socialized with or dated boys from nearby prep schools, including Judge Kavanaugh’s, said Samantha Semerad Guerry. She was among a group of Holton alumnae from the class of 1984 who signed a letter to lawmakers in support of Dr. Ford.
“One friend said, ‘If she can’t prove it, she doesn’t put pen to paper,’” Ms. Guerry said of Dr. Ford’s allegation. “She’s not an overly sentimental person. She brought logistical reasoning.”
Judge Kavanaugh’s friends are similarly convinced he is an honorable man incapable of the offenses Dr. Ford described.
“In every situation where we were together he was always respectful, kind and thoughtful,” Maura Kane, who dated him in high school, said in a statement. “The accusations leveled against him in no way represent the decent young man I knew.”
None of Dr. Ford’s high school or college friends interviewed for this story remembered her talking about the alleged incident at the party. Betsy Kingsley, a high-school friend, said she recalled a different gathering that both Dr. Ford and Mr. Judge attended during her sophomore year of high school.
Friends said it was clear Dr. Ford remained traumatized decades later. Jim Gensheimer, a friend in Palo Alto, said she confided in him that she needed more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from feeling trapped.
She told some classmates she was concerned that coming forward would diminish her privacy, Ms. Guerry said.
.. In July, Dr. Ford sent a tip to the Post and wrote a letter to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.), who encouraged her to reach out to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She wanted to tell her story in confidence “so that lawmakers would have a full understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history,” Ms. Katz, her attorney, said in a letter to the committee. After reporters caught wind of the letter, Dr. Ford came forward to tell her story on her own terms
.. Friends say Dr. Ford isn’t intensely political. Federal records show that Dr. Ford, a registered Democrat, has made three donations since January 2017 totaling $42 to Act Blue, an online service that provides a one-stop donation platform used by Democrats seeking office.
MCEVERS: Think about it. Donald Trump was getting paid a salary by NBC to have this huge platform where he could promote his businesses, even when some of those businesses weren’t actually doing very well.
PRUITT: The brands, you know, like Taj Mahal – it was enormously difficult to promote that because you walk in there, and you see, you know, neons falling. It was the Ta Mahal or something. You know, there was no J because the neons were out (laughter). They just hadn’t had the opportunity to replace it yet. It wasn’t a priority because the carpets were already rotting, and, you know, it just stank to high heaven. So…
MCEVERS: But you mostly edit that stuff, too.
PRUITT: Well, also, the jet was, you know, questionable whether it would fly that week. The helicopter was up for sale, I believe. We didn’t know if we were going to have it next week.
MCEVERS: Huh. But that’s not the way you made it look…
PRUITT: Not at all.
MCEVERS: …In that opening sequence.
MCEVERS: Oh, my gosh. You created a fiction, a fictional billionaire.
PRUITT: Well, he had been a billionaire. I mean, everything we said about him was truthful. It’s what we didn’t say about him. Do you know what I mean? It was a convenient vacation of the truth.
MCEVERS: At the time of “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump’s companies had already been through four bankruptcies. And there were two more to come, including the Taj Mahal. But Bill Pruitt and the show made him out to be this wildly successful guy having the time of his life, a guy who millions of people started looking up to and even wanted to be like.
This is the thing that Bill Pruitt feels the most guilty about now. In helping make “The Apprentice,” Bill says he was a good con artist. He has the Emmys to prove it from other reality shows. And on “The Apprentice,” his con helped take Donald Trump all the way to the White House.
PRUITT: We told a story. We went with beginnings and middles and ends and villains and protagonists. And we went about the business of putting music and picture and sound together, the things that we thought we wanted to get up in the morning and do with our lives. And now, all of a sudden, we’re here. A cultural icon emerged because we weren’t necessarily truthful about our portrayal.