When Christine Blasey Ford first came forward publicly with her allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans made great efforts to accommodate her in scheduling a hearing, extending deadlines and allowing for an unprecedented negotiation on the specific terms of her appearance.
Some on the right suspect that Ford has no intention of appearing for a hearing where she’ll have to tell her story under oath no matter how many accommodations are made for her. A letter from her attorneys to the committee late Monday — objecting to Ford being questioned by a female attorney rather than the “white, male” Senate Republicans — would only seem to underscore that view.
After media obsession with the optics of “a lineup of white guys over the age of 50” questioning Ford during the hearing, the committee’s Republicans informed Ford’s attorneys that they’d hired a special outside counsel to handle some of the questioning on their behalf, a female attorney experienced with sex crime cases.
But in the letter to the committee, Michael Bromwich, Ford’s attorney, objected to the special attorney, writing, “In our view, the hiring of a unnamed ‘experienced sex crimes prosecutor,’ … is contrary to the Majority’s repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this committee’s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations.”
“It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a ‘circus,’ as well as Dr. Blasey Ford’s repeated requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning,” he continued.
“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate. Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case,” Bromwich added.
In new letter from Dr Ford’s Attorney to the Judiciary Committee, they again object to having outside counsel ask the questions for republicans at Thursday’s hearing, and ask for the name and resume of who that person will be.
This does not appear to be a done deal. pic.twitter.com/MwggIeBGbs
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 25, 2018
Bromwich — who also represents former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe — further dismissed the examples of other instances where Senate committees have used outside counsel to ask questions in hearings, such as Watergate and Iran-Contra, as being inapplicable to this situation.
“The central point is that there is no precedent for this Committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the Committee from performing their responsibility to question witnesses,” wrote Bromwich.
Bromwich concluded the letter by demanding he be provided with the identity and resume of the outside counsel hired by the committee, and strongly hinted that Republican use of the experienced prosecutor to ask questions of the witnesses would be a sticking point that could derail the tentatively scheduled hearing on Thursday.
The show goes on
Despite Bromwich’s concerns, Chairman Grassley announced Tuesday that the female attorney to question Ford on behalf of the GOP senators would be Rachel Mitchell, an experienced sex crimes prosecutor.
The move is intended to “de-politicize the process and get to the truth, instead of grandstanding and giving senators an opportunity to launch their presidential campaigns,” Grassley said.
Naturally, the Democrats immediately objected. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is also on the Judiciary committee, said, “It is going against everything I’ve seen for 44 years. They’re not following normal procedure.”
Senate Democrats will be able to question Ford and Kavanaugh as well during Thursday’s planned hearing, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.