Exacerbating their challenge is the fact that every Republican on the panel is male — an echo of the all-male dais that questioned Hill in 1991. And all of the committee’s Republicans except for Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have been die-hard Kavanaugh supporters, raising questions about how seriously they’ll take her testimony.

To head off the potentially bad optics of older white men questioning a woman about alleged sexual assault, Republicans are considering having an independent outside lawyer question Ford alongside senators. They’re also carefully controlling the hearing, allowing testimony from no witnesses other than Kavanaugh and Ford, and declining Democratic calls for the FBI to investigate Ford’s claim further.

Cornyn, a senior Judiciary member, said his party would “treat [Ford] with respect and dignity” to avoid a repeat of the Hill hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he expects the committee will be “fair” to Ford.

Democrats have a different expectation.

“It’s going to be a shit-show,” said one Democratic senator.