While there is not one single female Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC), the male GOP members on the committee have made it abundantly clear they do not look forward to the optics of their cross-examination of Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday when the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is scheduled to testify in a public hearing.
According to NBC News, a letter sent to members of the committee on Tuesday by committee staffer Mike Davis said the GOP had hired a woman whom he described as "an experienced sex-crimes prosecutor to serve as an investigative staff counsel for the hearing." Notably, in the wake of Ford coming forward with her credible accusations last week, it was Davis who tweeted that Republicans were "unfazed and determined" to "confirm Judge Kavanaugh."
In response to the development, Sen. Kamala Harris, one of the four Democratic female members of the committee, stated, "Dr. Blasey Ford isn't on trial. This hearing is to determine whether Kavanaugh is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. By hiring a private attorney to cross-examine Dr. Blasey Ford, Republicans are trying to intimidate her and avoid being held accountable by voters."
Republicans have said they will not name the person they have hired.
The big question: If the name of the female outside counsel the Republicans hired is being withheld from Dr. Ford, is it also being withheld from Kavanaugh?
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 25, 2018
Later on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (D-Iowa), chair of the committee, announced that he had scheduled a vote for Kavanaugh for Friday morning.
As the Huffington Post reports:
There's a simple reason Republicans are doing this: Every GOP senator on the committee is male, and they don't want to be seen as bullying a woman who is speaking out about being sexually assaulted as a teenager.
"There's no particular expertise that a questioner is going to have in this situation," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). "Why are my colleagues hiding from their role as members of the Judiciary Committee?"
The woman they've hired as counsel is a prosecutor with expertise in sex crimes. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee, said he is not releasing the woman's name because he is concerned for her safety. He said the public probably won’t know the person's identity prior to the hearing.
"We have done it because we want to depoliticize the whole process like the Democrats politicized the Anita Hill thing," Grassley said.
Following the announcement, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who does not serve on the SJC, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that it would be unwise for male GOP senators to ask Ford questions directly during the hearing. "Somebody will do something that you guys will run 24/7 and inadvertently somebody will do something that's insensitive," Corker said. "I would not be wanting to ask questions about something like this. I'm glad they're going to get outside counsel."
But that doesn't make sense. What could a Republican ever ask a woman, or say about a woman, who says she has survived a sexual assault that would be insensitive?