Besides the 21 senators, Kavanaugh, Ford, a handful of journalists and a very, very small slice of the public, the rest of us will be watching this on television. Here’s what to expect:
It will take place in a relatively small Senate hearing room. It’s safe to assume Republicans want to avoid allowing in the protesters that frequently interrupted Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month. At one point, senators stopped letting members of the public into that hearing.
Ford and Kavanaugh will each give an opening statement. Kavanaugh’s has already been released. It’s short and fiery: “There has been a frenzy to come up with something — anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious — that will block a vote on my nomination.”
Ford and Kavanaugh will not appear together. Ford will testify, then leave the room. Then Kavanaugh will testify.
Senators will get five minutes to ask each witness questions. Those five minutes will go by very quickly, and once their time is done, they won’t get another chance.
You won’t hear from many, if any, Senate Republicans. Besides an opening statement from Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Republicans have decided to let Mitchell, the Arizona prosecutor, ask their questions of both Ford and Kavanaugh. A Senate Republican could chime in if he wants, but we don’t expect that.
Democrats will ask their own questions. They do not have the same gender-optics issue as the other side. Four of the 10 Democrats on the committee are women.
Everything about how this hearing will work was set up by Republicans. They control the majority of the Senate, and thus this committee, and thus they control the process. Grassley maintains he is doing his best to make it fair, and Ford’s legal team seems to have the most beef with what senators outside the committee are saying about their client. But this is still something to keep in mind as you watch.