Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have hired Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford at a hearing Thursday. A registered Republican, Mitchell has for 26 years been at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, where she works on cases “ranging from child molestation to computer crimes against children,” according to the Arizona Republic.
Mitchell was first named in a report from the Washington Post, which only said that she was the Senate GOP’s top choice for the job of questioning Kavanaugh and Ford. Not long after the Post published its story, Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley, who earlier Tuesday said he wasn’t releasing Mitchell’s name because he feared for her safety, confirmed her hiring.
“I’m very appreciative that Rachel Mitchell has stepped forward to serve in this important and serious role,” the statement says. “Mrs. Mitchell has been recognized in the legal community for her experience and her objectivity.”
Mitchell’s boss, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, endorsed her hiring in the Arizona Republic:
Montgomery praised Mitchell’s experience, calling her a “professional, fair, objective prosecutor” who has a “caring heart” for victims. He said he was contacted by staffers to the judiciary committee over the weekend about Mitchell’s availability and qualifications.
Montgomery added, “The people of America are well served with her involvement in this process.”
Aside from her professional qualifications, Mitchell was no doubt also hired because she is a woman, unlike every Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Hiring Mitchell allows Republicans on the panel to avoid the terrible optics of 11 men grilling a woman about her sexual assault.
But Mitchell’s hiring isn’t without detractors. On Monday, when Mitchell’s credentials were known but her name wasn’t, a lawyer for Ford wrote a letter to Grassley questioning the need for a prosecutor.
“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate. Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case,” Michael Bromwich said in the letter.
Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal criticized her hiring for another reason. A former U.S. Attorney, Blumenthal said, “I am in no way going to concede or cede my role as a United States senator.” His Republican colleagues, meanwhile, are “hiding from their roles as members of the Judiciary Committee,” he said.