WASHINGTON — The four days of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh included noisy protests, partisan battles, and plenty of drama.
School shooting survivor
Aalayah Eastmond, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survived February's mass shooting at her school by hiding under her dead classmate Nicholas Dworet's body. She implored senators at Friday's hearing to consider her story as they decide whether Kavanaugh is the person they want deciding gun control cases on the Supreme Court.
"When he (Nicholas) fell over, I fell over with him," she said. "I then placed myself underneath his lifeless body, placing his arm across my body and my head underneath his back. Bullets continued flying. I kept my eyes on the ground so I knew when to hold my breath and close my eyes when the shooter got near."
"I told God that I knew I was going to die," said Eastmond, who has become a gun control advocate. "I asked him: please make it fast. I didn’t want to feel anything. I asked for the bullet to go through my head so I wouldn’t endure any pain...after the shooting stopped in my class, his body became very heavy, I couldn't breathe anymore. I rolled him off of me, and placed his head on his arm so he wouldn't be touching the cold ground."
She asked senators – some of them in tears – to "remember my story, remember my classmates who died, remember the victims of color that face mass shootings every day, remember all victims of gun violence."
Things got off to a tumultuous start Tuesday as angry Democrats tried unsuccessfully to postpone the hearings after the White House withheld more than 100,000 documents from Kavanaugh's work in the Bush administration.
While Democrats and Republicans debated, dozens of anti-Kavanaugh protesters in the audience were arrested by Capitol Police after standing up and shouting while the senators were speaking. The protests continued all week.
Tuesday's hearing was so chaotic at times that Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, blasted it as "mob rule" and "unlike anything I’ve seen before in a confirmation hearing."
"We have rules in the Senate, we have norms for decorum," Cornyn said.
The handshake that wasn't
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, tried to shake hands with Kavanaugh during a break in Tuesday's hearing.
"Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad," he tweeted. "He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence."
White House spokesman Raj Shah offered an alternative version of the event, tweeting that "an unidentified individual" approached Kavanaugh and before the judge was "able to shake his hand, security had intervened."
Cory Booker's "Spartacus" moment
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., took the spotlight Thursday when he dared Republicans to try to expel him for publicly revealing some of Kavanaugh's emails that the GOP majority had ruled were confidential.
Cornyn said it was "irresponsible and dangerous" for a senator to violate Senate rules to release classified information. Booker said the public had a right to see Kavanaugh's emails, which included a 2002 communication in which Kavanaugh appeared to support the use of racial profiling on a temporary basis after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Booker, who is considered a possible 2020 presidential contender, declared that he was having an "I am Spartacus" moment when his action was supported by his Democratic colleagues. He was referring to a line from the 1960 movie "Spartacus," where former slaves protect their leader from the Romans by declaring that they are all Spartacus.
Critics ridiculed the moment as nothing more than grandstanding. Booker was in little danger of actually being expelled from the Senate since the severe penalty requires the approval of 67 senators. Republicans hold only a slim 51-49 majority. Also, Republicans declassified the documents several hours before Booker released them.
Dramatic silence on Trump's power
Democrats pressed Kavanaugh over several days on the issue of presidential power. Kavanaugh could become the deciding vote on whether Trump can be indicted or forced to testify as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?" Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked the judge Tuesday.
Kavanaugh replied: "I can't give you an answer on that hypothetical question."
Similarly, he refused to answer a question about whether the president can pardon himself, as Trump has said he has the right to do.
Birth control called 'abortion-inducing drugs'
Kavanaugh referred to some birth control as "abortion-inducing drugs" during his testimony on Thursday, sparking controversy among abortion-rights activists.
He used the term in response to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, about Kavanaugh's dissent in a 2015 case involving a Catholic group that objected to contraception.
Kavanaugh testified that the group was being forced to provide health coverage for birth control "over their religious objection." He said the group would have been required to fill out a form that would "make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs" that they opposed.
Democrats said Kavanaugh should not confuse birth control with abortion. Feinstein called his comment "further proof of Kavanaugh's hostility toward women."
Contributing: Richard Wolf, Herb Jackson, William Cummings