But Kavanaugh grew frustrated when it came to questions that dug into his private life, particularly his drinking habits and his sexual proclivities, according to three people familiar with the preparations, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. He declined to answer some questions altogether, saying they were too personal
“I’m not going to answer that,” Kavanaugh said at one point according to a senior White House official, who said that the questions were designed to go over the line and that he struck the right tone.
.. “The Republicans need women voters, but all hell will break loose (or it will be chaos) if this nomination unravels,” Dan Eberhart, an Arizona-based GOP donor, wrote in an email. “If we can’t get the nomination done, why vote Republican?”
.. Kavanaugh was calling Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and other key allies, urging them to publicly support him
.. In one key call, Kavanaugh told Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) that Ford had the wrong guy in mind, saying he had not attended a party like the one she described to The Washington Post. He and his allies also privately discussed a defense that would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, rather than try to dispute that an incident involving Ford had happened.
.. Yet McGahn was originally opposed to a public hearing — as were many within the orbit of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — but it became clear one would have to happen
.. Ford, through her attorneys, said she would be willing to testify publicly, and several potential pivotal votes, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), signaled that his confirmation could not move forward unless Ford was given a public airing.
.. McGahn has kept other key aides out of the process, afraid they would leak damaging material, relying on special counsel Annie Donaldson and spokesman Raj Shah. He has also talked on several occasions with McConnell, who is fond of McGahn.
.. His tweet on Friday morning in which he directly targeted Ford was not seen as helpful by White House aides, but Trump told senior officials that it was becoming a political issue that could affect the midterms. Republicans did not believe the woman’s claims, Trump added privately.
.. Republicans have also talked about enlisting female lawyers on the committee, who Grassley said would be “sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Ford’s allegations and are experienced investigators,” to the lead the questioning. They might also help the GOP avoid an optics problem of 11 men grilling a woman about her sexual assault allegation.
The hearing could end “without new conclusive evidence either way,” one senior Republican official said. “Members have to determine their threshold for credibility. And that will be the challenge.”
Senate Republican officials had repeatedly vented in private that it seemed, at least to them, Ford’s lawyers were doing more press than responding to their emails or requests for calls. Her attorneys would return that sentiment in kind, complaining in a late Friday letter to top Grassley aides that they would learn of the Republican hearing counteroffer “through the media” and got it officially through the committee “hours after those media accounts first appeared.” On Saturday they accused GOP senators of “bullying.”
.. Democrats are also plotting their own strategy for the hearing. Furious about Grassley’s decision to limit testimony to just Kavanaugh and Ford, Democratic aides planned to find other potential witnesses — such as a trauma expert — who could help bolster their case.
.. If they couldn’t be heard under oath, Democrats discussed holding news conferences where those other experts would speak, aides said. A top priority, according to Democratic officials, was ensuring Ford felt supported, whether it was having enough friends and family in the hearing room with her or finding people who can speak publicly about Ford’s character.
“We’re not accepting the premise that it’s going to be a he-said, she-said hearing,” one senior Senate Democratic aide said.
.. As for questions for Kavanaugh, Democrats planned to hold nothing back. Democratic staff have been researching the broader culture of the prep academy world in which Kavanaugh lived while reading the writings of Mark Judge
.. Judge, who has said he doesn’t want to testify, has written about how much alcohol he and his classmates consumed while in high school and details about other debaucherous behavior.
.. Democrats also planned to grill Kavanaugh on what he knew about a controversial Twitter thread from Ed Whelan
.. Ford’s July 30 letter outlining the allegations sent to Feinstein and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.). Republican senators, initially cut off from accessing the unredacted version of the letter, prodded Feinstein repeatedly to hand over her copy so they could conduct their investigation.
.. “They want her to publicly testify . . . but the infamous letter is still not public. They won’t allow it to be.”