The Republican strategy of appointing a female special counsel to question Christine Blasey Ford appeared to backfire.
After asking questions about Ford’s mental illness, texts to reporters and fear of flying, sex-crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell appeared to intentionally eviscerate the entire format of the procedure.
“Would you believe me if I told you that there’s no study that says this setting, in five minute increments, is the best way to [interview victims of trauma]?” asked Mitchell, using the question to make a larger point. “Do you know the best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer talk to you on-on-one, in a private setting, and to let you do the talking?”
The hearing format was designed by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid having to question Ford outright, especially given the party’s legacy of presiding over the allegations against then-Justice nominee Clarence Thomas brought by Anita Hill. While many saw Mitchell’s criticism of the format as a way to undercut Ford’s credibility—over the accuser’s decision to forsake a forensic interview—others believed it discredited the strategy of Republican lawmakers.
Mitchell’s Thursday performance has the White House worried.
Shortly after Ford’s testimony began, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that “almost every person close to Trump who had told me having a sex crimes prosecutor question Ford was good strategy is saying they think it was a mistake after the first portion of the hearing.”
In the afternoon, POLITICO reported that Trump allies were “cringing over the decision by Senate Republicans to hire a female prosecutor to question” Ford.
“That’s a disaster,” one Trump administration official told the publication.
“A grade of C would be generous,” attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing another woman alleging sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, told Observer. “Scored no points because Ford was very credible.”
“Authentic, emotional and believable,” added former Trump advisor Michael Caputo of Ford’s testimony. “There is a very warm place in Hell for Senate Judiciary Democrats and their ugly allies who played this out like a game designed to destroy a good man and his family just so they can get their way.”