Republicans announced Tuesday they have hired a female lawyer to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, during Thursday’s major hearing — a move that Ms. Blasey Ford objects to.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s “not uncommon” for senators to rely on professional staffers to lead questioning at hearings, and pointed to the Watergate investigation as precedent.
Mr. McConnell also said the chamber will quickly move to vote after the hearing is over.
“I’m confident we’re going to win, confident he will be confirmed in the very near future,” Mr. McConnell said.
He and fellow Republicans said they’ve crafted a “fair” process for both Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Blasey Ford, who says she was sexually assaulted during a high school party in the early 1980s, and has fingered Judge Kavanaugh as the culprit.
No corroborating witnesses have emerged to back up her account, which has deeply divided senators and the public.
Many Democrats have said they believe Ms. Blasey Ford’s account on its face, and say Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration to the high court.
“We believe Dr. Ford is credible,” said Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “She should be listened to carefully and given a fair, fair shake.”
He also accused Judge Kavanaugh of misleading senators in previous hearings.
Republicans, though, have said that without any evidence to back up the accuser’s account, they believe Judge Kavanaugh’s vehement denials.
For her part, Ms. Blasey Ford had been going back and forth on whether she would testify. She reached an agreement Sunday with the Judiciary Committee.
But on Monday her lawyers expressed her concerns over the format with an outside lawyer doing the questioning.
Michael R. Bromwich, one of those lawyers, sent a letter saying there was no precedent for using an outside lawyer in the Judiciary Committee, and said Republicans were “shielding” their members from having to go toe-to-toe with Ms. Blasey Ford.
“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” he wrote. “Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.”
Republicans have not revealed who their outside lawyer leading the questioning will be.
There are no female Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, and Democrats suggested that was one reason the GOP turned to an outside female lawyer.
Mr. Schumer said Democratic senators will ask their own questions.
“Out senators are not afraid,” he said.