GOP senator: Kavanaugh hearing format 'not great,' but 'we're stuck with it'

Rachel Mitchell counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans questions Christine Blasey Ford as senators Mike Crapo Jeff Flake Ben Sasse Ted Cruz Mike Lee and John Cornyn listen during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

After the hearing, Mitchell privately briefed Republican senators, saying that based on the evidence with which she was provided, she would not prosecute Kavanaugh, according to a Washington Post article.

In enlisting Mitchell to join their staff, Republican senators are taking an unusual step.

The reason Republicans - led by Grassley - chose to bring in Mitchell rather than to ask their own question of Ford is because they didn't want to make themselves the story Thursday.

A female sex-crimes prosecutor tapped by Senate Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about allegations of sexual assault could have a tough time in such a contentious political environment, Arizona attorneys who know her said Wednesday. "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".

Rachel Mitchell, a Republican, was expected to question both Kavanaugh and the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. 'I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh'.

Mitchell has not responded to requests for comment sent through the county attorney's office. In it, Ford wrote, "He held me down and put his hand on my mouth to stop me from screaming for help".

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Mitchell's boss, has praised Mitchell as an "objective" prosecutor with a "caring heart" for victims.

Mitchell - who only 10 months earlier had been chosen to replace her boss as the head of the sex crimes unit at the Maricopa County Attorney's office in a surprise shake-up - had little recourse with the crimes in IN, as the statute of limitations had expired. Her role will be to test the legitimacy of the sexual allegations.

Mitchell "has been recognized in the legal community for her experience and objectivity", committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, said in a statement Tuesday.

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Still, even many Republicans who believed Ford was honestly recounting what happened to her took the view that it was a case of mistaken identity, believing Kavanaugh's emotional testimony that was not there and did not attack her. "It struck me how innocent and vulnerable the victims of these cases really were".

Earlier this year, Mitchell talked with KJZZ-FM (91.5) in Phoenix about a new protocol manual that the County Attorney's Office introduced to Arizona as best practices to ensure justice for victims.

"So many women around the country were watching it together in rooms and texting one another about what they were seeing, identifying with her", said Donegan said. "She doesn't pigeon-hole defendants". Now everyone knows who she is - but very few people had seen anything other than a single picture of her wearing sunglasses. "But she is also very fair".

Tasha Menaker of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Violence said Wednesday that she has worked with Mitchell for three years on the protocol and found her to be "very experienced, intelligent, detail oriented and very straightforward".

'While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate's advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the Constitution's provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well, ' Flake said. At that point, I don't think she was going to do anything to hurt Blasey Ford.

Bruce Feder, a defense attorney in the county, said that as a manager, Mitchell spends less time now in the courtroom but had plenty of experience questioning both victims and people accused of wrongdoing. Media reports indicated that the priest, the principal of a local school, was one of the first to be prosecuted for sex abuse in the county.

"These records contain private, highly sensitive information that is not necessary for the Committee to assess the credibility of her testimony", the lawyers said.

It was Ford's telling the committee she now has two front doors at her home - a decision she said she made because of the lasting trauma of the alleged assault - that convinced Kathleen Pierman, 66, who watched the testimony at home.

As the head of the sex crimes unit, Mitchell was one of the prosecutors tasked with finding out why hundreds of sex crimes were unresolved or not adequately investigated by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, said Cindi Nannetti, former county prosecutor and Mitchell's predecessor at the unit.

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