Testimony Tactics: Role of Strategy, Optics in Kavanaugh Hearing

It was a long day for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and an even longer one for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford.

Veteran sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell and committee Democrats on Thursday spent hours questioning Ford about her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

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“She was very credible from a personal and professional standpoint,” said Alan Tuerkheimer, founder of the Chicago-based trial consulting firm Trial Methods. “She told her story, but she also intertwined these notions of brain science and psychology behind what she was describing.”

For example, when asked what her strongest memory of the attack was, Ford said, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter—the uproarious laughter—between [Kavanaugh and Mark Judge] at my expense.”  

Democrats, Mitchell and some committee Republicans also questioned Kavanaugh about his behavior in high school and college, which Tuerkheimer said also worked to his advantage.

“[Kavanaugh] certainly came out swinging, and he was showing some rightful indignation,” Tuerkheimer said. “He wanted to show he didn’t want to be a lightweight with these charges.”

A powerful moment to that extent was in Kavanaugh’s opening statement.

“My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations,” he said. “The 10-day delay has been harmful for me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country.”

Tuerkheimer joins us in discussion.

Related stories:

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Third Woman Accuses Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual Misconduct

Kavanaugh Allegations Ignite Debate Over Decades-Old Claims

Will Sexual Assault Allegations Derail Kavanaugh Confirmation?

The Battle Over Judge Brett Kavanaugh

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