Against Christine Blasey Ford’s wishes, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz decline to question her directly

Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Christine Blasey Ford as Sens. Mike Crapo, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and John Cornyn listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on September 27, 2018.
Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Christine Blasey Ford as Sens. Mike Crapo, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and John Cornyn listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on September 27, 2018.
Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON – In a historic committee hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Texas’ two Republican U.S. senators declined to directly question Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, as allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee continue to mount.

Instead of questioning Ford personally, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz delegated their time to sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Miller, who committee Republicans hired to ask questions of Ford for the GOP senators, a move widely viewed as saving the panel’s 11 Republican men from the optics of questioning a woman who has alleged sexual assault.

The decision by Cruz, Cornyn and other Republicans on the panel to stay silent was against the wishes of Ford, who closed her opening statement by stating she wanted the interact with all the senators.

“Because the committee members will be judging my credibility, I do hope to be able to engage directly with each of you,” Ford said.

During Cornyn’s time, Mitchell asked Ford to tell the committee how she narrowed down the timeline of when the assault occurred. Since she originally sent her letter detailing her allegations to her congresswoman, Democratic U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, Ford has narrowed down the timeframe of the alleged assault from the mid-1980s to the summer of 1982. She said she can’t give the exact date of the party where she says the assault allegedly occurred.

“I’m just using memories of when I got my driver’s license,” Ford said. “I was 15 at the time and I did not drive home from that party or to that party.”

Ford testified that, since she came forward, no one has told her that they drove her to or from this party.

Mitchell also asked Ford during Cornyn’s five minutes to clarify notes from her therapist from 2012 that describe the night of the sexual assault, which Ford confirmed didn’t include the name of Kavanaugh. Ford also acknowledged that the sexual assault was described incorrectly by her therapist, who wrote that she was sexually assaulted by four boys. Ford said she was only assaulted by Kavanaugh, while another boy, Mark Judge, was in the room. Ford said she corrected that error in an interview with The Washington Post.

Ahead of the hearing, there was uncertainty over whether Cornyn would question Ford directly. He told reporters Wednesday that he would reserve the right to question Ford during the five-minute period given to him.

Cruz, who is in the middle of a re-election fight against Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, also delegated his time to Mitchell. She questioned Ford about how she decided to come forward with her allegations. Ford contacted The Washington Post on July 6 and around the same time contacted Eshoo, her congresswoman. Mitchell asked why Ford contacted The Washington Post first.

“I was panicking because the timeline was short for the decision,” Ford said.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh for the open U.S. Supreme Court seat on July 9.

“Unfortunately, neither got back to me before the selection of the nominee,” Ford said.

Her allegations weren’t published in The Washington Post until Sept. 16. According to that story, Eshoo forwarded the letter to Feinstein’s office in late July.

Since the story came out, various Republicans have questioned whether Ford’s accusation was a case of “mistaken identity.” Feinstein asked if Ford could be mistaken about what happened to her or the identity of her attacker.

“Absolutely not,” Ford replied.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, asked Ford how certain she was that Kavanaugh assaulted her.

“100 percent,” she said.

The hearing echoed moments from Anita Hill’s testimony regarding sexual assault allegations from 27 years ago against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Throughout Thursday’s hearing, senators continuously referred back to the hearings featuring Hill.

“The Senate failed Anita Hill,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said.

Brett Kavanaugh is expected to testify later Thursday.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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