Rachel Mitchell, the veteran sex crimes prosecutor assigned to question Christine Blasey Ford, wasn’t winning many fans with people on either side of the aisle.
What many people seemed to agree on, though, as memes and reactions flew: Melissa McCarthy would be the perfect person to play Rachel Mitchell in a seemingly inevitable Saturday Night Live skit:
Mitchell, who leads a sex crimes and family violence unit in the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, where she has worked for decades, was tapped by the Senate GOP to lead the questioning of Blasey Ford, who has accused Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, of groping her without consent in high school in the 1980s. Kavanaugh denies the accusations and those of two other women who came forward to allege separate incidents.
Mitchell’s performance was panned on both sides: Republicans and Kavanaugh supporters said it was a mistake to have her methodically question Ford about the time line rather than allowing GOP senators to question her about things like the fact that the three people she named as being at the party all say they don’t recollect it (including a female friend). Meanwhile, Democrats were helping shape a narrative that favored Ford.
Democrats and Kavanaugh opponents were criticizing Mitchell for approaching Ford as a prosecutor would when Ford is the accuser, and they didn’t like some of her lines of questioning.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:
Wrote one Twitter user: “‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women'”. Your reservation is confirmed Rachel Mitchell.”
Grassley Called Rachel Mitchell a Career Prosecutor With Decades of Experience but Dr. Ford’s Attorneys Opposed an Outside Counsel
In his statement, Chuck Grassley praised Rachel Mitchell’s career. Grassley said that Mitchell has “decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes,” calling her a “career prosecutor.”
He added, “As I have said, I’m committed to providing a forum to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh on Thursday that is safe, comfortable and dignified. The majority members have followed the bipartisan recommendation to hire as staff counsel for the committee an experienced career sex-crimes prosecutor to question the witnesses at Thursday’s hearing.”
Although critics have alleged the GOP Senators just don’t want the bad optics of an all-male panel questioning Ford, Grassley gave another motive. “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 said.
“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. I’ve worked to give Dr. Ford an opportunity to share serious allegations with committee members in any format she’d like after learning of the allegations. I promised Dr. Ford that I would do everything in my power to avoid a repeat of the ‘circus’ atmosphere in the hearing room that we saw the week of September 4. I’ve taken this additional step to have questions asked by expert staff counsel to establish the most fair and respectful treatment of the witnesses possible.”
However, Ford’s attorneys have repeatedly objected to the Senate Judiciary Committee using an outside lawyer to question Ford. Michael Bromwich, an attorney for Ford, said previously in a statement, “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.”
Rachel Mitchell Is on Leave From the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona
Rachel Mitchell is a prosecutor from Arizona, but she’s now on leave.
“Mitchell worked in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix as the chief of the Special Victims Division, which covers sex crimes and family violence,” reported 12News.
CNN reported that Mitchell is currently on leave from her position as “the deputy county attorney and as the chief of the Special Victims Division” in Maricopa County.
Mitchell was pictured in the County attorney’s newsletter as part of a team that won an award, and a post on Twitter indicates she spoke at a conference about medical findings in child sex abuse cases.
“Operation Safe Treat is a partnership between the MCAO, US Marshal’s Office, several local police departments and the Maricopa County Probation Department which sends teams of officers out to the community in the weeks leading up to and on Halloween checking on registered sex offenders to ensure they are following the rules,” the caption with the photo in the County Attorney’s newsletter read.
In 2014, a commission recommended her as a possible judicial candidate in Arizona.