Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are bringing in veteran Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Thursday in a public hearing.
Mitchel heads the special victims division in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Ariz., overseeing attorneys who handle child sex abuse cases. She was reportedly tapped to address concerns about the optics of an all male panel questioning Ford regarding her allegation that Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes at a high-school party.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley praised Mitchell’s experience in a statement released Tuesday night.
“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 campaigns,” Grassley’s statement continued. “I’m very appreciative that Rachel Mitchell has stepped forward to serve in this important and serious role. Ms. Mitchell has been recognized in the legal community for her experience and objectivity.”
Ford’s attorney, Michael Bromwich, said his client was opposed to being questioned by an outside counsel in a Monday letter to Grassley’s office.
“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” Bromwich wrote. “Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.”
While some Republican lawmakers have remained adamant that, absent further evidence to corroborate Ford’s claims, they will vote to confirm Kavanaugh, a number of more centrist Senators, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, have cast doubt on whether Kavanaugh will retain their support.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote is scheduled to take place on Friday at 9:30 a.m.