Republican Sen. John Cornyn expressed some frustration on Thursday with the format of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing convened to hear the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying the allotted five-minute time frame didn’t give prosecutor Rachel Mitchell time to establish her line of questioning.
“It’s not great,” the Texas Republican said. “What would be better is if you were able to develop the evidence through continuous questioning over a period of time. So the five minute intervals are not great. But we’re stuck with it.”
After opening statements from Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley and the panel’s top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as well as Ford, each senator was given five minutes to ask Ford questions during a round of questioning.
During Thursday’s hearing, Republican senators on the panel chose to yield their time to Mitchell, a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes. Mitchell sat in front of the 11 male GOP senators on the panel as she questioned Ford during the first part of the historic hearing. Democratic senators on the panel conducted their own questioning of Ford.
Ford has alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school at a social gathering in the 1980’s. Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegation and will also provide testimony and face questioning during Thursday’s hearing.
Despite his apparent frustration with the format, however, Cornyn defended the decision to have Mitchell ask questions, saying that it was “the right decision.”
At one point during the hearing, Mitchell herself suggested that the format of the hearing was not the best way to ask questions of a trauma victim.
The career prosecutor asked Ford if she was familiar with “best practices for interviewing victims of trauma,” and then said, “Would you believe me if I told you that there’s no study that says that this setting — in five minute increments — is the best way to do that?”
There was audible laughter in the room after that comment.
Mitchell went on to say, “Did you know that the best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer talk to you one on one in a private setting and to let you do the talking … did you know that?”
Ford replied, “that makes a lot of sense.”