Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono resorted to familiar tactics on Tuesday during the hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, asking the Trump nominee if she had ever committed sexual assault.
Sen. Hirono was one of the final senators to question Barrett on the second day of the Senate confirmation hearings, and Hirono felt it appropriate to ask Barrett if she had ever been accused of sexual impropriety or entered into an agreement to related to inappropriate sexual conduct.
Citing a statement from Chief Justice John Roberts in 2017 in which he acknowledged that the judiciary “is not immune” from the problem of sexual misconduct, Hirono said it is her duty “to ensure the fitness of nominees” for positions that have lifetime appointments, according to Fox News.
“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” Hirono asked.
“No, Senator Hirono,” Barrett replied.
“Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?” Hirono then asked.
“No, Senator,” Barrett said.
Hirono’s eerily familiar line of questioning turned heads on Tuesday considering this was the very tactic the Democrats employed in an attempt to stop the nomination of now Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
During the Kavanaugh hearings, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that she’d received a letter from an anonymous constituent detailing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her during a beach party when the pair were in high school. Ford eventually went public with her allegations in an interview with The Washington Post.
Kavanaugh denied Ford’s allegations, which had no independent verification, and, in a special session of the Senate Judiciary Committee, related his side of the story under oath and refuted several other, less substantiated, allegations. He was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court by a party-line vote.
“The initial letter to Feinstein was a surprise to Kavanaugh’s team, and Hirono’s line of questioning left some commentators concerned that Hirono plans a similar sneak attack on Barrett” according to the Daily Wire.
Hirono claimed that she asks those two questions of all nominees who come before committees on which she sits, Fox News reported.
From there, Hirono moved onto questioning Barrett on her judicial philosophy.
Earlier Tuesday, Barrett revealed that she expected a high level of scrutiny once her nomination to the Supreme Court was made official.
“I don’t think it’s any secret to any of you or to the American people that this is a really difficult, some might say excruciating, process,” Barrett said in a morning interaction with Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham. “And Jesse and I had a very brief amount of time to make a decision with momentous consequences for our family. We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail, we knew that our face would be a caricature and we knew our family would be attacked.”