Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Arizona sex crimes prosecutor will question Brett Kavanaugh, accuser during hearing

Chris Wattie  Reuters Chris Wattie Reuters
| 30 September, 2018, 09:37

Republicans have also refused to subpoena Mark Judge, who Ford says was with Kavanaugh when the alleged assault took place.

RACHEL MITCHELL: I mean, our goal right now is we know how these guys offend and to stop them, put them in a position where they can't get into that position to reoffend.

According to The Washington Post, Mitchell is the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix.

Ford was widely praised for her compelling and convincing testimony in Thursday's hearing, but the fact that she can't name the date and location of the alleged offence makes the claim hard to prosecute, experts say. In an interview earlier this year on a local NPR radio station, Mitchell talked about the nuts-and-bolts of the office's adoption of a new sex crimes protocol, the first in office history, meant to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases.

He strongly denied Ford's allegation, but said he believed she had been the victim of a sexual assault.

Senate Republicans are bringing in Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to handle questioning about allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, describing her as tough, experienced and, above all, objective.

When Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell first announced Mitchell's role in Ford's testimony, he called her a "female assistant".

"To my Republican colleagues, if you vote 'no, ' you're legitimizing the most despicable thing that I have seen in my time in politics", Graham said in an raging five-minute diatribe.


Rick Romley, the former top county prosecutor in metro Phoenix who was once Mitchell's boss, praised her for a career devoted to helping victims.

Mitchell was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 1992.

The tenor of the questions suggested that Mitchell was trying, if gently, to question the reliability of Ford's recollections and portray Ford as a pawn of Democrats who are out to stop Kavanaugh at any cost.

But Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said using a trained lawyer allows for less grandstanding by senators with political aspirations.

Ford replied that she contacted her representative in Congress, Anna Eshoo, a Democrat, and that Eshoo recommended contacting Feinstein, a California senator and the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

It'll easily be the highest-profile case of Mitchell's long and distinguished career handling sex crimes, an area she said she didn't initially intend to focus on early in her career but one she felt drawn to after clerking at a law firm and watching a senior lawyer prosecute a youth choir director. The Democrats might be genuinely upset that the Republicans abdicated their "responsibility" to question Ford themselves. Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. "She's clearly competent", said Rick Romley, a former Maricopa County attorney.

While Republicans plan to let Mitchell do the questioning, they may follow up on answers.

Sen. Jeff Flake is an undecided Republican on the Judiciary Committee who is retiring and has made an enemy of Trump. But in a confirmation process marked by theatrics, drama, and partisan bickering, Mitchell's presence and her professional conduct was the closest the Senate has come to decency and normalcy in months. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said.

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