A Viewer's Guide to the Ford, Kavanaugh Senate Hearing - NBC New York
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A Viewer's Guide to the Ford, Kavanaugh Senate Hearing

At issue is whether Kavanaugh's nomination to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court is still viable

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    Watch coverage of the 10 a.m. ET Senate Judiciary Committee hearing above, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

    It'll be a snapshot of the state of the union.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday would turn on the credibility of its two star witnesses, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says he sexually assaulted her.

    But there is much more that will be electrifying the atmosphere in the cramped hearing room and the nation beyond the cameras. Allegations by other women. Death threats against the witnesses' families and lawmakers considering the testimony. President Donald Trump's Twitter rants. The #MeToo movement and the looming Nov. 6 midterm elections.

    Flake on Kavanaugh: ‘We Haven’t Learned Much’ Since Anita Hill

    [NATL] Flake on Kavanaugh: ‘We Haven’t Learned Much’ Since Anita Hill

    Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., addressed the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday. “These are human beings, with families and children,” he said of Kavanaugh and his most prominent accuser, and that not much has been learned since the Anita Hill hearings in 1991.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018)

    And a critical question that can't be answered until the hearing, technically, ends: Can Senate Republicans get a 51-49 majority in Kavanaugh's favor?

    "We have lit a match," said retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a frequent Trump critic. "Do we appreciate how close the powder keg is?"

    A guide to viewing the spectacle:

    WHEN TO WATCH
    Gavel-to-gavel coverage can be found on NBC and many news channels, with proceedings expected to begin at 10 a.m. EDT. The hearing room will likely seat only a few dozen people not on the committee. A small pool of journalists will be allowed in, with a limited number of cameras. That's a change — at Ford's request — from Kavanaugh's first four days of hearings in the massive, lit-for-television hearing room often used for high-profile proceedings.

    AT ISSUE
    Whether Kavanaugh's nomination to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court is still viable.

    Ford says Kavanaugh pushed her into a room, groped her and covered her mouth when she tried to scream during a high school party. Kavanaugh has denied that he ever sexually assaulted anyone.

    Lawyer for 2nd Kavanaugh Accuser Says She Wants to Testify

    [NATL] Lawyer for 2nd Kavanaugh Accuser Says GOP Does Not Want Her Testimony

    The lawyer for Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, said she wants to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee but that the committee were not interested in hearing her speak. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump remained in staunch defense of his nominee, calling the accusations a "con job."

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018)

    THE ORDER OF THINGS
    There may not be much order, if Kavanaugh's first round of hearings is any clue. They erupted almost instantly into shouting and general bedlam — and that was before anyone was talking about sexual assault allegations.

    This time, because of more limited seating, any protesters would have limited ability to disrupt the proceedings.

    But here is the plan: Ford is to testify first. Kavanaugh responds. Each can talk for as long as he or she wants, according to Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

    At Ford's request, Kavanaugh will not be in the room when she testifies.

    Each of the 11 Republican senators and each of the 10 Democratic senators on the committee will have a chance to ask five minutes of questions, Grassley said. The questioning will alternate between Republicans and Democrats.

    SOME REPUBLICANS MIGHT PASS
    Republicans have no good choices when it comes to cross-examining Ford because every GOP member of the panel is a man.

    ‘Con Job’: Trump Speaks on Kavanaugh Accusations

    [NATL] ‘Con Job’: Trump Speaks on Kavanaugh Accusations

    President Donald Trump addressed accusations of misconduct against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a news conference in New York Wednesday.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018)

    The optics of men challenging a woman who says she's been a victim of sexual assault are so bad that the committee has asked a female prosecutor from Arizona to help with the questioning.

    But, Grassley told reporters on Wednesday, "Any Republican that wants to claim their five minutes can claim their five minutes."

    THE STAR QUESTIONER
    Look for a new face in Washington to take a high profile at the proceedings at the behest of Senate Republicans. She is Rachel Mitchell, a Republican from Arizona with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes.

    Mitchell works in the Maricopa County attorney's office in Phoenix as the chief of the special victims division. She supervises attorneys who handle cases involving child molestation, sexual assault and computer crimes against children in Arizona's most populous county.

    EVIDENCE
    A green-and-white scribbled calendar, complete with doodles and capital letters marked "BEACH WEEK" is Kavanaugh's 1982 summer calendar, when he was a senior in high school. It's also part of his defense against Ford's accusation that he attended the party at which she says the assault happened.

    Look also for four sworn affidavits from people who say Ford told them about the alleged assault before Trump nominated Kavanaugh.

    Second Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward

    [NATL] Second Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward

    A second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct has come forward, in an interview with The New Yorker. Deborah Ramirez claimed that Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and exposed himself to her at a drinking party when they were both freshmen at Yale, an allegation Kavanaugh denies.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2018)

    Ford also provided the committee with the results of a polygraph test on her accusation. The documents indicate Ford took the test Aug. 7 at a Hilton Hotel in Maryland and seem to support her claim that she passed it, though there's no independent expert verification.

    PRESSURE ON DEMOCRATS
    Five minutes isn't much for a potential presidential candidate, but they're likely to take what they can get. Look for at least two Democratic senators on the panel, said to be considering challenging Trump in 2020, to make the most of their time: Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

    Both took turns aggressively questioning Kavanaugh during his first four days of confirmation hearings in what many saw as a prelude to presidential primary campaigns.

    Trump scoffed that his would-be 2020 challengers looked "like fools."

    SPEAKING OF TRUMP
    He's said to be seething about the slow Republican-set pace of the Kavanaugh proceedings and suggested at the United Nations that he might have preferred to hold votes on the confirmation even without hearing from Ford. Confirming conservative justices to the Supreme Court is, in his view, central to his compact with his core supporters.

    Here's how Trump is assessing the Kavanaugh confirmation process: "It's disgraceful. It's a disgrace to the country. And I think you're going to see it in the midterms."

    Supporters of Christine Blasey Ford Hold Vigil in Palo Alto

    [NATL-BAY] Vigil of Solidarity in Palo Alto for Christine Blasey Ford

    Hundreds of people on Sunday evening lined up on busy El Camino Real in Palo Alto, holding candles, phones and signs showing solidarity in support of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Marianne Favro reports.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2018)

    Not likely to improve Trump's mood is another bit of potential unpleasantness on his schedule Thursday: A meeting to decide the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling. Trump indicated Wednesday that he may delay the meeting so he can focus on the hearing instead.

    OTHER ACCUSERS
    Look for whether Democrats succeed in raising the two other women accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct.

    One, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while they were both students at Yale. She has acknowledged consuming alcohol at the time, which clouded some of her memories.

    The other, Julie Swetnick, has accused Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women, among other things. The Associated Press hasn't been able to corroborate the claims.

    Kavanaugh and Judge have denied the allegations. Kavanaugh said he doesn't know Swetnick and "this never happened."

    YOU AGAIN?
    They won't be in the hearing room. But it's worth noting that Swetnick's lawyer is Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, who says Trump tried to hush up their 2006 sexual tryst.

    Protesters Opposed to Kavanaugh Gather at Capitol Hill

    [NATL] Protesters Opposed to Kavanaugh Gather at Capitol Hill

    Protesters gathered at Capitol Hill Thursday to urge the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Many of the protesters said they were survivors of sexual assault. About 50 people were arrested.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018)

    Avenatti says he, too, is considering running for president in 2020.