Senate GOP Hires Woman to Question Ford, Kavanaugh

Rachel Mitchell has experience prosecuting sex crimes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2018 7:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford are expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday—but viewers will not see Ford questioned on her sexual assault allegations by the 11-strong, all-male Republican contingent on the committee. Instead, they have hired Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor with experience dealing with sex crimes, the Arizona Republic reports. In a statement, committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley said senators wanted to provide a "safe, comfortable, and dignified" forum for Ford and Kavanaugh. "The goal is to de-politicize the process and get to the truth, instead of grandstanding and giving senators an opportunity to launch their presidential campaign," he said. More:

  • "She has dealt with victims in this very circumstance." Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says Mitchell, who oversees a division of around 45 people, has a lot of experience dealing with years-old sex crimes and allegations, the Washington Post reports. "Over the course of Rachel’s career, she has dealt with victims in this very circumstance of delayed disclosure and circumstances where allegations were difficult to corroborate," he says.

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  • Republican confidence. The committee has scheduled a vote Friday on Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination and Republicans seem increasingly confident that he will pass, the Hill reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he was "confident that he’ll be confirmed in the very near future," although several GOP senators, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, remain undecided.
  • "The politics of destruction." President Trump spoke out on Kavanaugh again Tuesday night. "The Democrats are playing a high level CON GAME in their vicious effort to destroy a fine person," he tweeted. "It is called the politics of destruction. Behind the scene the Dems are laughing. Pray for Brett Kavanaugh and his family!"
  • Anita Hill speaks. Anita Hill, whose testimony in 1991 failed to halt the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas, tells the AP that she believes Ford will not receive a fair hearing—but the case shouldn't be seen as a referendum on the #MeToo movement. "Remember, #MeToo is about raising awareness. Just because the Senate's awareness hasn't been raised, doesn't mean that the rest of us haven't evolved and learned," she says.

  • Mormon women want hearings halted. The Mormon Women for Ethical Government called Tuesday for Kavanaugh's nomination hearings to be halted until sexual misconduct allegations from Ford and Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh's, were fully investigated, the Washington Post reports. "Our mutual faith teaches that any sexual abuse or assault in any context is contemptible and worthy of the most severe condemnation," they said in a statement, addressing the four Republican members of the committee who share their faith.
  • Democrats "in the dark." Democratic senators say they have not been coordinating with Ford to help her prepare for the hearing, in which she is expected to face intense questioning, Politico reports. "I assume her own lawyers are prepping her. We’re not. Let me make that very clear," says Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
  • Ramirez lawyer speaks out. John Clune, a lawyer for Ramirez, complained Tuesday that he is looking into ways to have her provide information to the Senate, but only Democrats showed up for a conference call he tried to arrange Tuesday, CNN reports. "The difficulty is every time we try to set up a phone call, the majority party either changes the rules of the phone call or they want additional information as a condition of even having a phone call with us," he said, accusing Republicans of "game playing."
(Read more Brett Kavanaugh stories.)

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