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What to watch for in Senate hearings on Kavanaugh allegation

What to watch for in Senate hearings on Kavanaugh allegation

Right here’s what to look for when Palo Alto College professor Christine Blasey Ford goes earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to talk about her sexual assault allegations towards Supreme Courtroom nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

What time does it begin — and the place can I watch it?

With a lot on the road, most of the particulars are nonetheless being negotiated, however Thursday’s momentous listening to earlier than the 21 members of the Senate Judiciary is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. California time. Anticipate in depth protection on the cable information networks and, in fact, C-SPAN three. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s rating Democrat, is predicted to be the second senator to ask questions of each Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh, whereas Sen. Kamala Harris will probably be one of many final senators to query every.

What are the stakes?

Thursday’s listening to gained’t simply tank or seal a lifetime appointment that would swing the Supreme Courtroom to the best for a era. It additionally represents the highest-stakes showdown of the #MeToo motion thus far — and will have main political penalties on this yr’s hard-fought midterm elections. Blasey Ford’s allegations have divided the nation, putting a chord amongst many ladies who’ve skilled comparable assaults whereas infuriating Republicans and different Kavanaugh supporters who see her claims as an 11th hour try to derail his affirmation.

Excessive Faculty yearbook pictures of Christine Blasey Ford, left, and Brett<br />Kavanaugh. 

What’s the format for listening to from Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh?

Each are probably to give opening statements after which bear what could possibly be hours of questioning. Blasey Ford is predicted to inform the story she’s laid out in her letter to Congress and interview with the Washington Submit: At a highschool social gathering in suburban Washington, D.C., greater than three many years in the past, Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to take off her garments, and coated her mouth together with her hand when she tried to scream, earlier than she escaped. Kavanaugh is predicted to repeat the robust denials that he’s made because the allegations first got here out. “I’m not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process,” he advised Fox Information’ Martha MacCullum in an interview Monday night time.

However how the senators will query the 2 was some extent of rivalry. And new accusations of sexual misconduct introduced ahead this week by Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, will make sure that senators have a lot to ask about.

Decide Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in by the Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (rear), throughout his first spherical of hearings earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. four, 2018. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Pictures) 

Why have Republicans employed a feminine lawyer to query Blasey Ford as an alternative of doing it themselves?

Republican senators have chosen Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to query Decide Brett M. Kavanaugh and the lady who has accused the Supreme Courtroom nominee of sexually assaulting her once they have been youngsters, a prime senator introduced Tuesday.

Mitchell, the intercourse crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Lawyer’s Workplace in Phoenix, will question the 2 at Thursday’s extremely anticipated Senate Judiciary Committee listening to. A registered Republican, Mitchell has labored for the Maricopa County Lawyer’s Workplace for 26 years.

Republican Majority Chief Mitch McConnell stated Tuesday they employed “a female assistant … to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way. We want this hearing to be handled very professionally not a political sideshow.”

The choice — 11 male GOP senators aggressively grilling a feminine sexual assault sufferer on nationwide TV — would have been perilous for Republican candidates in robust races across the nation. If the senators got here off as insensitive or seemed like they have been bullying Blasey Ford, it might “be a boost to every Democratic woman running in November,” stated Thad Kousser, a politics professor at UC San Diego.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and different Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee attraction to Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to delay the affirmation listening to of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Courtroom nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. four, 2018. (AP Photograph/J. Scott Applewhite) 

Will Kamala Harris and Cory Booker proceed to seize the highlight?

Within the first spherical of Kavanaugh’s hearings earlier this month, earlier than Blasey Ford got here ahead, two potential Democratic presidential contenders — California’s Harris and New Jersey’s Cory Booker — made the most important splash. The senators stole the headlines by interrupting proceedings, aggressively grilling Kavanaugh, and throwing out Senate norms — theatrics that delighted liberals and exasperated conservatives.

Now, their questioning of Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh on Thursday will probably be must-watch TV for political junkies and prognosticators. Harris, the previous district lawyer of San Francisco and lawyer common of California, is probably going to amp up her prosecutorial type with Kavanaugh over Blasey Ford’s allegations. In a single signal of Harris’ affect, Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware has steered he might cede his questioning time to her or to Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, one other former prosecutor. Like his fellow committee newcomer Harris, Booker shall be among the many final senators to ask questions.

Can Dianne Feinstein defend herself towards assaults that she mishandled Blasey Ford letter?

Feinstein performed a serious position in the Blasey Ford saga — she was the primary senator the professor contacted and she or he acquired a secret letter laying out Blasey Ford’s allegations in late July. Since then, the five-term senator has develop into the favored goal for President Trump and Republicans, with GOP officers blasting her for ready six weeks to refer the letter to the FBI. Feinstein, who has stated she was respecting Blasey Ford’s needs, has additionally confronted criticism from the left, together with her re-election challenger Kevin de Léon arguing she might have introduced Blasey Ford’s claims ahead earlier whereas defending her id. However Blasey Ford’s legal professionals have stated they consider she dealt with the letter appropriately, insulating her from assaults from different Democrats.

On the listening to, anticipate Feinstein to clarify her reasoning and defend herself from GOP criticism. And if her characteristically cautious and circumspect strategy does find yourself unraveling Kavanaugh’s nomination, it might rework Feinstein right into a hero for liberals who’ve lengthy had their doubts about her.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, accompanied by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the rating member, middle, speaks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., proper, throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee markup assembly on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Washington. The committee will vote subsequent week on whether or not to advocate President Donald Trump’s Supreme Courtroom nominee, Brett Kavanaugh for affirmation. Republicans hope to affirm him to the courtroom by Oct. 1.(AP Photograph/Andrew Harnik) 

How will this be totally different from the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings?

Blasey Ford’s allegations have spurred flashbacks to the final time a Supreme Courtroom nominee confronted sexual misconduct accusations, when professor Anita Hill accused Decide Clarence Thomas of harassing her. Three senators who served on the Judiciary Committee in the course of the 1991 hearings analyzing these allegations are nonetheless there: Republicans Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the present chair, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, in addition to Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Some senators on the all-male committee prompt that Hill was mentally unstable, that she was making up her allegations, or that Thomas’ alleged conduct wasn’t that dangerous.

Virtually 30 years later, the committee now has 4 ladies (all Democrats). In mild of the #MeToo motion, analysts say it is going to be essential for senators not to reprise the brusque questioning fashion that characterised the Hill-Thomas hearings. “If they’ve learned anything, they’ve learned not to do that,” stated Barbara O’Connor, an emeritus professor of communications at California State College Sacramento. “It’s all about tone and tenor.”

US regulation professor Anita Hill takes the oath earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 12, 1991 in Washington, D.C. (Photograph by JENNIFER LAW / AFP) 

Can any Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee be swayed?

An important Republican to watch is Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. A number one Trump critic, he backed the Kavanaugh nomination regardless of considerations concerning the decide’s place on government energy. However when Blasey Ford stepped ahead, he stated he couldn’t vote for Kavanaugh with out listening to her story first. As one among 4 Mormon Republicans on the committee — together with Hatch — he’s confronted new strain this week from a gaggle referred to as Mormon Ladies for Moral Authorities, which is looking for Republicans to halt the affirmation till “a thorough independent investigation can be conducted.”

Can the listening to transfer past a “he said-she said”?

Up to now, it’s arduous to see the way it might. Republican leaders have rejected proposals from Blasey Ford’s legal professionals to conduct an FBI investigation into her claims or to name different witnesses, together with the person she says was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. That man, Mark Decide, has denied her account and requested not to testify.

With out extra proof, “we’re not going to learn anything new, and they’re not doing anything to help move this beyond a ‘he-said-she-said’ scenario,” stated Micha Star Liberty, an Oakland lawyer who repeatedly represents victims of sexual harassment and assault. “It seems a little like political kabuki theater.”

Tons of of individuals take part in a “I Believe Christine” candlelight vigil, held in solidarity for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, in downtown Palo Alto, Calif., on Sunday, September 23, 2018. After publicly sharing her story of sexual assault, Dr. Blasey Ford has been topic to a smear marketing campaign and dying threats. The story has gained nationwide consideration as a result of her alleged attacker is Supreme Courtroom Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Photograph Jacqueline Ramseyer) 

Can Blasey Ford truly cease Kavanaugh from being confirmed?

Just some weeks in the past, Kavanaugh’s affirmation appeared doubtless to achieve the help from all 51 Republicans in the Senate, sufficient to ship him to the Supreme Courtroom. Since Blasey Ford and one other accuser got here ahead, there’s rather more uncertainty. Kavanaugh can afford to lose one GOP senator even when no Democrats again him, however a number of Republicans — together with Flake, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — seem up for grabs. Nonetheless, any Republican who doesn’t help Kavanaugh might face a backlash from their very own base. “Republicans are just so upset and angry about this,” stated Sue Caro, a GOP official in Alameda County. “They can’t dare let this work.”

In some methods, the nomination has develop into a lose-lose for Republicans, who might pay a political worth with independents and ladies voters in the event that they affirm Kavanaugh and face the wrath of their very own base in the event that they don’t.

“It’s not a very healthy political situation,” stated Mark Martinez, a politics professor at UC Bakersfield. “They might get their justice, only to lose their majority.”