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5 big questions about the Kavanaugh hearing

In six days, the political world -- and the broader world -- will turn to the Senate Judiciary Committee, wh...

Posted: Sep 19, 2018 7:30 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2018 7:30 AM

In six days, the political world -- and the broader world -- will turn to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault, will testify before the assembled senators.

We think.

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In response to the request from Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to appear next Monday to tell the story of her alleged sexual assault, Ford's attorneys said in a letter that the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing.

Ford's attorney Lisa Banks threw more cold water on the idea of a Monday hearing. "She will talk with the committee," Banks told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago."

Whether or not Ford will actually attend the hearing -- which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted would go forward on Monday -- is the biggest unanswered question heading into next week's hearing, but it's far from the only one. Here are four more.

2. Will Grassley add any more witnesses? There's talk that Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's friend and someone who Ford alleges was in the room when the assault happened, might be called to testify. A lawyer for Judge told CNN on Tuesday that he wasn't speaking publicly to anyone, but Sen. Doug Jones told CNN Tuesday that he thinks Judge should be subpoenaed to testify. Then there is the question of whether the therapist Ford and her husband saw in 2012 might be called. Partial notes from the therapist reviewed by The Washington Post confirmed that Ford talked about the incident, although there was a discrepancy between how many people she now says were in the room and how many the therapist recorded her saying.

3. Will this be a public or a private hearing? On Tuesday, McConnell offered Ford the option of testifying in public or private. Ford's lawyer on Monday said that she was open to a public hearing, but it's not clear whether that may have changed.

4. Will President Donald Trump stay measured? The President has been remarkably measured -- by his own admittedly low standards -- when it comes to the allegations from Ford. "We should go through a process," Trump said Tuesday. "There shouldn't even be a little doubt." But there's a lot of time between now and next Monday. And Trump's Twitter fingers might get itchy.

5. Will Republicans stay unified? At the moment, Senate Republicans and the White House are singing from the same songbook: Bring Ford in, let her tell her story, ask questions and then see what happens from there. Can the GOP keep up that unified front -- with the 2018 election now seven weeks away and concerns about how the Kavanaugh story impacts the party's election prospects growing by the day?

The Point: The hearing is only six days away, supposedly. And the stakes, not just for Kavanaugh and Ford personally but for Trump and both parties, are stupendously large. And yet, uncertainty reigns. This has the makings of high-wire act with no net for everyone involved.

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