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Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford hearing: What to expect

Posted at 4:44 PM, Sep 26, 2018

The Senate Judiciary committee hearing Thursday where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault are set to testify about her allegation will see both witnesses face five minutes of questioning from each senator on the panel, or a lawyer if senators choose to yield their time.

WATCH LIVE (7 a.m. Thursday): Kavanaugh's accuser testifies

The way the hearing will unfurl was revealed Tuesday after CNN obtained details of the format for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, in which both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will testify publicly.

A source familiar with the matter provided the following details to CNN after notices were sent to Kavanaugh's and Ford's legal teams.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley will make an opening statement with no time limit, followed by an opening statement from the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who also will not have a time limit.

Ford, who alleges when she and Kavanaugh were in high school he pinned her down at a party and covered her mouth while trying to remove her clothing, will then be sworn in and give an opening statement. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.

There will be one round of questions in which each senator will have five minutes each to ask Ford questions. Those five minutes can be yielded to counsel if a senator chooses. Grassley confirmed Tuesday in a statement that he has hired Rachel Mitchell, a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes, to question the witnesses. Mitchell will ask the questions for the GOP senators, while Democrats will do their own questioning.

Ford will then leave the committee hearing room, and Kavanaugh will enter once Ford has departed. The Supreme Court nominee will be sworn in and will then give his opening statement.

In the same format as the questioning for Ford, there will be one round of questions in which senators have five minutes to either ask questions themselves or yield that time to outside counsel.

Grassley announced Tuesday that a committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination is tentatively scheduled for Friday.

The hearing will occur days after a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that when she and Kavanaugh were in college together, he exposed himself to her at a dormitory party. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.

A third woman made allegations against Kavanaugh on Wednesday. Julie Swetnick, who attended a different high school in Maryland and is being represented by the lawyer Michael Avenatti, said she attended "well over 10" parties where Kavanaugh was present and saw him "drink excessively at many of these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls."