The result of the format proved jarring at times, as the hearing moved rapidly back and forth between Senate Democrats’ politically freighted questions and Ms. Mitchell’s meticulous, prosecutorial style. But the effect of Ms. Mitchell’s careful, granular questions was limited by her five-minute blocks of time, and Senate Republicans expressed frustration at the impediment, though they defended their choice to retain an outside questioner.
While Dr. Blasey provided some small clarifications, she remained consistent in her testimony and appeared to gain confidence as the hearing went on.
When it came to questioning Judge Kavanaugh, however, Senate Republicans quickly took matters into their own hands — Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina exploded into a tirade directed at his Democratic colleagues.
“Boy, you all want power,” he said. “God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham that you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None. She’s as much of a victim as you.”
That outburst changed the tenor of hearings, and one by one, Senate Republicans, dismissing Ms. Mitchell, used their five minutes to apologize to Judge Kavanaugh and denounce their Democratic colleagues.
“You’re the first major target of a new strategy that’s developed here, and I think you’re right,” Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, told Judge Kavanaugh. “I think it’s just basically attack, attack, attack.”
All eyes will stay on the undecided senators.
Republicans on the committee, including Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said they expect the committee to vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday morning, as scheduled. But while Mr. Kavanaugh’s scorched-earth testimony was well received by his conservative backers, he must also persuade a moderate group of senators known to break from party lines.