Published 6:32 AM EDT Sep 27, 2018
WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused him of a past sexual assault, are expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations.
Here is what you need to know about the hearing, where you can watch it and what you can expect.
When is the hearing?
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET in the Dirksen Senate Office Building room 226, That smaller venue was selected by Judiciary Committee officials to avoid the "circus atmosphere" from the first four days of Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, which were held in a larger room in the Hart Senate Office Building.
Where can I watch?
USA TODAY will carry a livestream of the event, as will most major media outlets. CNN, Fox News, C-Span and PBS will broadcast live coverage of the hearing. In addition, the hearing will be live on NPR and C-Span Radio. You will also be able to watch the live hearing for free on Facebook and YouTube.
Who will testify?
Despite repeated requests from Ford's legal team for the ability to call other witnesses, the Judiciary Committee under Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley has insisted only Kavanaugh and Ford will testify.
What are they expected to say?
In Kavanaugh's opening statement, which was released Wednesday, he decries a "frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination." He calls the allegations against him "last-minute smears" and vows he will "not be intimated into withdrawing." Ford's statement has not been made public, but she has alleged that Kavanaugh locked her in a room, held her down and tried to remove her clothes at a party when they were both in high school.
Who will question them?
Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona sex crimes prosecutor, has been chosen to lead questioning for Republicans during the hearing.
The use of a sex crime prosecutor to question Ford will save the panel's 11 Republican men from the optics of questioning a woman who has alleged sexual assault.
The Democrats on the committee are expected to question Kavanaugh and Ford directly.
Mitchell, the deputy Maricopa County attorney, teaches all over the country and internationally, appears frequently in front of the Arizona Legislature as a witness and has helped write and rewrite statutes on surreptitious videotaping and child prostitution.
"Rachel Mitchell is a national trainer and lecturer on the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes against both adults and children," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "This is entirely a quest to find the most qualified professional."
What about the other accusers?
Two other women have come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of past sexual misconduct. Deborah Ramirez alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and put his genitals in her face a dorm room party when they were classmates at Yale University.
More: Read Ford's testimony: 'I was afraid he was going to rape me'
And Wednesday Julie Swetnick, a client of attorney Michael Avenatti, alleged in a signed statement that she witnessed Kavanaugh and his high school classmate Mark Judge try to get girls "inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped." Neither Ramirez or Swetnick was invited to testify Thursday.
Two additional accusations were made public Wednesday night after it was revealed that Kavanaugh had been questions about anonymous allegations of assault.
Why was there not an FBI investigation first?
Ford's attorneys and Senate Democrats have continued to call for an FBI investigation ahead of committee hearing but those requests were rebuffed by committee officials who explained that only the executive branch of government has the authority to order such an investigation. President Donald Trump said he would not order the FBI to look into the allegations. Trump and other Republicans have said there has not been time for the FBI to conduct an investigation now. Democrats counter that one was quickly completed after Anita Hills allegations against Clarence Thomas surfaced in 1991.
When will the Senate vote on Kavanaugh?
Grassley scheduled a Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for Friday. But, the Iowa Republican left open the possibility that the vote could be delayed, depending on what transpires during Thursday's hearing. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.– who vowed last week to "plow right through" the confirmation process despite the allegations – could potentially move ahead with a vote on the Senate floor without a recommendation from the committee.
Contributing: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Michael Kiefer, Ronald J. Hansen