Republican senators hired an outside prosecutor to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday, despite her request that the GOP lawmakers do the job themselves. In their effort to avoid the uncomfortable task of questioning a sympathetic and credible woman witness, the all-male lawmakers instead created what many called a “cruel format” for a hearing.
What a cruel format, like having to interrupt a therapy session every 5 minutes to do a tax audit
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) September 27, 2018
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the committee, decided to give each senator just five minutes for their questions, which were posed by a woman prosecutor, Arizona attorney Rachel Mitchell. Her lines of inquiry were repeatedly interrupted however, because of the brief amount of time she had to question Ford.
Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape during a party when they were both in high school.
During Mitchell’s first series of questions, Grassley interrupted her to move the hearing along. “Because I don’t — we have to — I’ve got to treat everybody the same,” he said, stumbling. “Can I go to Senator Feinstein?”
While Mitchell focused on details of the alleged assault, referring to text message threads and maps, Democratic senators thanked Dr. Ford for testifying and allowed her time to speak about the emotional and traumatic impact.
The contrast did not go unnoticed.
One consequence of GOP’s format for this hearing is that Mitchell pursues a single line of questions in five minute intervals, whereas the Democrats have a series of disjointed mini interactions with Dr. Blasey Ford. Public will remember the repeated image. Intentionally tilted.
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) September 27, 2018
Prosecutors typically use cross examinations to establish a rhythm with a witness, building up from seemingly innocuous questions and using that momentum to attempt to ask more challenging questions that may catch the witness off guard. But with the five minute interruptions, Mitchell was not able to establish any kind of rhythm.
The decision to hire Rachel Mitchell to question Christine Blasey Ford is going to go down in history as an incredible blunder by Senate Republicans, and the decision to hold the hearing in this ridiculous 5 minute round format is only going to magnify the effects of the mistake.
— Susan Simpson (@TheViewFromLL2) September 27, 2018
Republican mistake was not in hiring a professional to do their job, it was in not creating a format that allows for proper cross examination. Rachel Mitchell will not be able to establish a rhythm. Every 5 mins Ds will giver Dr. Ford a breather.
— Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) September 27, 2018
This #KavanaughHearings format is going to be awkward. Mitchell is trying to be methodical in setting a record, but she can do it only in 5 minute chunks, intercut with Democratic questions. https://t.co/wZ7RNQl2C6
— Lynn Sweet (@lynnsweet) September 27, 2018
During the first break in the hearing, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), one of just 21 women in the Senate, called the process and the use of the prosecutor “outrageous” and “unfair.”