Rachel Mitchell, the veteran sex crimes prosecutor from Maricopa County, Arizona who was chosen by the GOP to question Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, sent a memo to Republican senators calling Ford’s allegations a “he said, she said” case that “is even weaker than that.”
You can read the five-page memo and a four-page timeline at the end of it in full here:
Mitchell wrote in the memo that she was presenting her “independent assessment” of the allegations. She said this was based on her independent review of the evidence and her nearly 25 years of experience. She alleged in the document that “the activities of Congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford’s attorneys likely affected Dr. Ford’s account.”
She said she was not pressured to write the memorandum and it did not necessarily reflect the views of any other senator or committee member. “While I am a registered Republican, I am not a political or partisan person,” she wrote.
Mitchell added, “There is no clear standard of proof for allegations made during the Senate’s confirmation process. But the world in which I work is the legal world, not the political world. Thus, I can only provide my assessment of Dr. Ford’s allegations in that legal context.”
Mitchell wrote that a “‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them….I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”
Mitchell then listed her reasons for that conclusion. They included:
That Dr. Ford “has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened.”
Under this header, Mitchell listed different accounts she says Ford gave, ranging from “mid 1980s” in a text to the Washington Post to “early 80s” in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among other things.
That Dr. Ford “has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name.”
According to Rachel Mitchell, no name was listed in 2012 and 2013 individual and marriage therapy notes. She did note that Ford’s husband “claims to recall that she identified Judge Kavanaugh by name in 2012” and added “in any event, it took Dr. Ford over thirty years to name her assailant. Delayed disclosure of abuse is common so this is not dispositive.”
That “when speaking with her husband, Dr. Ford changed her description of the incident to become less specific.”
Mitchell stated that Ford told The Washington Post that she told her husband she was the victim of “physical abuse,” whereas she has now testified that she told her husband about a “sexual assault.”
That “Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question – details that could help corroborate her account.”
Among them, according to Mitchell: “She does not remember who invited her to the party or how she heard about it. She does not remember how she got to the party.” Mitchell continued: “She does not remember in what house the assault allegedly took place or where that house was located with any specificity. Perhaps most importantly, she does not remember how she got from the party to her house.” The memo then continued listing more details.
Mitchell pointed out that Ford “does, however, remember small, distinct details from the party unrelated to the assault. For example, she testified that she had exactly one beer at the party and was taking no medication at the time of the alleged assault.”
That “Dr. Ford’s Account of the Alleged Assault Has Not Been Corroborated by Anyone She Identified as Having Attended – Including Her Lifelong Friend.”
Mitchell wrote that Dr. Ford has named three people other than Judge Kavanaugh who attended the party – Mark Judge, Patrick PJ Smyth, and her lifelong friend Leland Keyser, formerly Ingham. She said another boy attended but she couldn’t remember his name, but Mitchell pointed out that “no others have come forward.”
“All three named eyewitnesses have submitted statements to the Committee denying any memory of the party whatsoever,” Mitchell wrote. She stated that Keyser stated through counsel in her first statement that “Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present with, or without, Dr. Ford.”
In a later statement, Keyser’s lawyer said, “the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate [Dr. Ford’s allegations] because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
Ford testified that Leland did “not follow up with Dr. Ford after the party to ask why she had suddenly disappeared.”
That “Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of the alleged attack.”
For example, Mitchell wrote that Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein that she had heard Kavanaugh and Mark Judge talking to other partygoers downstairs while hiding in the bathroom after the alleged assault but testified that she could not hear them talking to anyone.
That her “account of who was at the party has been inconsistent.”
Mitchell said The Washington Post’s account of Dr. Ford’s therapist notes say there were four boys in the bedroom when she was allegedly assaulted. Ford told The Post the notes were erroneous because there were four boys at the party but only two in the bedroom.
In her letter to Feinstein, she said “me and 4 others” were at the party but in her testimony she said there were four boys in additional to Leland Keyser and herself. She listed Smyth as a bystander in a text to The Post and to a polygrapher and then testified it was inaccurate to call him a bystander. “She did not list Leland Keyser even though they are good friends. Leland Keyser’s presence should have been more memorable than PJ Smyth’s,” wrote Mitchell.
That “Dr. Ford has struggled to recall important recent events relating to her allegations, and her testimony regarding recent events raises further questions about her memory.”
Mitchell said that Ford doesn’t remember if she showed a full or partial set of therapy notes to the Washington Post. She doesn’t remember if she showed the Post the notes or her summary of the notes.
Mitchell stated that Ford refused to provide her therapy notes to the Senate Committee.
That “Dr. Ford’s explanation of why she disclosed her allegations the way she did raises questions.”
For example, Mitchell says that Ford wanted to remain confidential but called a tipline at the Washington Post. She testified that she had a “sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the president.” But she also said she did not contact the Senate because she claimed she “did not know how to do that.”
Mitchell also noted that Ford “could not remember if she was being audio or video-recorded when she took the polygraph. She could not remember whether the polygraph occurred the same day as her grandmother’s funeral or the day after her grandmother’s funeral. It would also have been inappropriate to administer a polygraph to someone who was grieving.” (Ford’s attorneys have said she took and passed a polygraph.)
That “Dr. Ford’s description of the psychological impact of the event raises questions.”
According to Mitchell, the date of the hearing was delayed because the Committee was told that Ford’s symptoms prevented her from flying, but she agreed during testimony that she flies “fairly frequently.” She also flew to Washington D.C. for the hearing. Mitchell noted that Ford testified that she was not “clear” whether investigators were willing to travel to California to interview her.
She said she struggled academically in college, but she didn’t make the claim about the last two years of high school.
That “the activities of Congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford’s attorneys likely affected Dr. Ford’s account.”
Under the above header, Mitchell referred to an additional timeline. You can read it at the end of the document embedded near the top of this article.
The above is a partial summary. In multiple instances, Mitchell provided additional examples to back up her claims. You can read them all in the memo at the top of this article.
Mitchell is an award-winning sex crimes prosecutor in Arizona, although her position in Maricopa County has caused some controversy online due to a rape kit backlog and the proximity to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office once helmed by Donald Trump-backing Sheriff Joe Arpaio. However, the Sheriff’s Office is a different agency from the prosecutor’s office that has employed Rachel Mitchell for more than two decades.
In his statement appointing Mitchell, Chuck Grassley praised Rachel Mitchell’s career. Grassley said that Mitchell has “decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes,” calling her a “career prosecutor.”
Although critics have alleged the GOP Senators just didn’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 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 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.
In 2014, a commission recommended her as a possible judicial candidate in Arizona.
Rachel Mitchell has donated to the campaign of Mark Brnovich, Arizona’s Republican attorney general, according to The Post. The County Attorney’s newsletter also mentions that Mitchell was part of a team that won an award for dealing with a “sex assault backlog.”
According to AZFamily.com, Rachel Mitchell was also among prosecutors assigned to figure out why some Maricopa County Sheriff’s cases were not resolved or fully investigated. The Washington Post reported that Mitchell was assigned to help “figure out which cases were still viable…She later conducted training sessions for the sheriff’s office, in hopes of avoiding a repeat.” The crimes dated from 2005-2007, the newspaper reported.
Mitchell assumed her job as head of the unit overseeing sex crimes in January 2005 as part of an office shakeup that some criticized, according to an article in the Phoenix New Times. The article said the naming of another woman as a special assistant in the County Attorney’s office that was part of the same shakeup was “a clear signal that the County Attorney’s Office no longer will do battle with controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio over what Romley staffers often viewed as legally impermissible excesses.” The office was being run by a new County attorney.
The site End the Backlog says a state audit in 2016 found that there were still more than 6,000 untested rape kits in Arizona. More than 4,300 were from Maricopa County. An open records request from an advocacy organization in Tucson helped spur some of the attention to the issue, the site says. Critics have pointed out that Mitchell was a sex crimes prosecutor for years at that point, and rape kit testing was up to the prosecutor’s discretion. AZCentral reported that advocates blamed a lack of funding, in part, and said the decisions for testing were often made at the police level.
You can read that 2016 state audit here. It reads, in part, “in reviewing the inventory, it is important to understand the history of why sex crimes evidence kits went untested or were not submitted to the crime laboratory for testing in the first place. Primary causes include limited resources for both police agencies and crime laboratories, investigative discretion and prosecutorial decision making.”
Mitchell has also prosecuted cases involving delayed reporting and has handled multiple cases involving priests accused of sexual abuse.
Rachel Mitchell’s boss praised her after news of her selection to question Dr. Ford. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told AZFamily that Mitchell was a “professional, fair, objective prosecutor” who has a “caring heart” for victims.
The Arizona newspaper also reported that Rachel Mitchell was named “Arizona’s outstanding sexual-assault prosecutor” in 2003 and her office’s Prosecutor of the Year in 2006.
Mitchell told FrontLine that she had trained churches and schools on Arizona’s mandatory reporting laws. Mitchell went to law school at Arizona State, is licensed to practice law in Arizona, and was admitted to practice law in the state in 1992, according to a bio. The AZ Bar lists no disciplinary actions for her.