Rachel Mitchell is the career sex crimes prosecutor from Maricopa County, Arizona who was chosen by Senate Republicans to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the September 27, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What’s known about her politics? Is Rachel Mitchell a Republican or Democrat? Mitchell is a Republican.
In a statement, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley confirmed that Republicans had asked Mitchell to “question the witnesses scheduled to testify on Thursday at the committee’s continuation of its hearing to consider the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the United States Supreme Court.”
Mitchell is an award-winning sex crimes prosecutor in Arizona, although her position in Maricopa County has led some to attempt to link her to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office once helmed by Donald Trump-backing Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The Sheriff’s Office is a different agency from the prosecutor’s office that has employed Rachel Mitchell for more than two decades, although the prosecutor’s office handled cases referred by Arpaio’s agency.
Here’s what you need to know:
Rachel Mitchell Is a Registered Republican
Rachel Mitchell is a registered Republican, according to the Washington Post, which reports that she’s worked in the Maricopa County office for 26 years.
She has donated to the campaign of Mark Brnovich, Arizona’s Republican attorney general, according to The Post. Brnovich’s website describes him by saying, “Mark was sworn in as Arizona’s 26th attorney general in January of 2015. After defeating incumbent Attorney General Tom Horne in the Republican primary, he went on to defeat his Democratic opponent in November 2014.”
The website indicates that Brnovich worked in the same office as Rachel Mitchell: “Mark met his wife Susan while they both worked as prosecutors for the Maricopa County Attorneyʼs office. Mark worked in the Gang/Repeat Offender Unit and prosecuted many difficult and high profile cases from 1992 to 1998. Always interested in new challenges, he went to work at the Arizona Attorney Generalʼs Office (1998-2003) and represented the Arizona Department of Gaming, where he developed an expertise in gambling law, as well as gaining an increased appreciation for Native American culture.”
However, Rachel Mitchell has been praised by Republicans and Democrats who have worked with her. Tracey Westerhausen, a Democratic defense attorney in Arizona, praised Rachel Mitchell to The Post, calling her a “very nuanced and wise prosecutor.” Mitchell has been a team member responsible for developing sexual assault prosecutor protocols for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office and has handled prominent sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests.
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, Where She Led a Sex Crimes Unit
Rachel Mitchell is a prosecutor from Arizona, but she’s now on leave from that office. She was in charge of the sex crimes unit for Maricopa County and has worked in the office for decades.
“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 listed 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.