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Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, left, chats with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, right. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi /ALM

The public showdown Thursday between Christine Blasey Ford and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will not mirror a criminal investigation and trial, with its standards of evidence and strict procedures. The hearing instead, in a room on Capitol Hill, will grapple with questions of credibility, character and, for some, a larger cultural movement.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will weigh Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s at a party during their high school years. The Republican and Democratic members of the committee are judging credibility as they assess whether Kavanaugh is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

“The political process is not a legal one,” said Jade Lambert, a government investigations partner at King & Spalding in Chicago. “That poses a lot of questions about what the framework is and who is the finder of fact. Who is the jury, who are the witnesses, who will be advocating for them? What is the standard of proof? If this were a legal case there would be some standard.”

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