News & Politics

Internet Pillories Mitch McConnell's Bumbling Statement Calling Sex Crimes Attorney a 'Female Assistant'

Senate Republicans' plan to bring in an outside counsel is backfiring before the hearing even begins.

Photo Credit: Office of the Vice President

Senate Republicans are acutely afraid that their all-male membership on the Judiciary Committee will further inflame outrage in how they question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the professor alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in her youth, when she testifies before the committee on Thursday. For this reason, they have hired a sex crimes prosecutor to question Ford and Kavanaugh on their behalf, despite Ford's insistence that this setup makes her uncomfortable.

And on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) managed to stir up even more controversy with his choice of words announcing their hiring of an outside counsel.

"We have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way," said McConnell to reporters. "We want this hearing to be handled very professionally not a political sideshow."

In no time at all, McConnell was facing a firestorm of anger:

In calling their outside prosecutor, who has not yet been identified, a "female assistant," McConnell gave the game away. Republicans are not hiring an independent lawyer, who happens to be a woman, for the sake of conducting an impartial hearing, or because they believe having a woman's perspective would be beneficial. They are doing it because they want to avoid the optics of having 11 men badgering a sexual assault survivor. And they want to lend their cursory, rushed investigation the trappings of fairness to give themselves cover to push through Kavanaugh when all is said and done.

As public support for Kavanaugh plunges and the GOP caucus starts second-guessing, McConnell has been desperate to salvage the nomination, acutely aware he could lose the Senate and thus surrender control over any replacement nominee from President Donald Trump to Democrats. But his attempts to reassert control over the process only seem to be adding to the disaster.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.