Political analyst says Kavanaugh-accuser hearing could alter Supreme Court landscape

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process for nominee Brett Kavanaugh enters a new phase Thursday, with the judge and the first woman to come forward with a sexual misconduct allegation against him both expected to testify.

And what appeared to be a close but inevitable confirmation vote for Kavanaugh is now anybody’s guess, as two other accusers against Kavanaugh have come forward.

Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will focus on allegations from Christine Blasey Ford.

Ford alleged that during a summer party while she and Kavanaugh were in high school, she was locked in a room by a drunken Kavanaugh and a friend and Kavanaugh laid on top of her groped her and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. But, through her lawyer, she admits she’s unclear on some key details of the incident.

Her expected testimony Thursday has come after extended negotiations and skepticism about her claims from Republicans, including President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Jess Brown, WHNT News 19 political analyst, said it’s a tricky moment for Republicans, with a midterm election looming.

“I do think the best of all possible worlds for McConnell and Republicans right now is if she does not show up and testify,” Brown said.

Brown said the country will be closely watching how the committee treats Blasey Ford.

“This is not the Anita Hill environment," he said. "People have to understand that sensitivity to these issues, and how well these issues resonate in the political culture is far greater today."

Small details from Blasey Ford could shift the entire landscape of the confirmation process, Brown said.

“She needs to do more to provide evidence and paths for corroboration,” he said. “Because if she does that, the argument she makes for an FBI investigation, the argument she makes for the committee to do more, as far as hearing witnesses, is increased.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, hasn’t called for the FBI to investigate, but the midterm election is Nov. 6.

“I think Grassley is running more risk with the Republicans in midterms by not saying, ‘We’ll have an FBI investigation,’” Brown said.