A sex crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, is questioning Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused U.S. Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, on Thursday. She has worked in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Arizona for almost 30 years.
But during a press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called her a “female assistant.”
When a reporter raised the issue of the the Republican side of the Senate Judiciary Committee being all male to McConnell, McConnell said, “We’re looking for the truth here. I don’t think because you happen to be a male you’re disqualified from listening to the evidence and making a decision based upon the evidence.”
.@SenateMajLdr: "We have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way. We want this hearing to be handled very professionally not a political sideshow…" #Kavanaugh pic.twitter.com/N0hGKA6NqX
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 25, 2018
Then he added, struggling to get out the word “female”:
“As I said earlier, and I think you already know, we have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way. We want this hearing to be handled very professionally, not a political sideshow like you saw put on by the Democrats when they were questioning Kavanaugh.”
The next day, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said of Mitchell, “I can’t remember the name” of the woman we hired to interview Dr. Blasey Ford.”
“I can’t remember the name” of the woman we hired to interview Dr. Blasey Ford, says Republican Senator Kennedy.
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) September 26, 2018
The Senate Judiciary Committee will be questioning Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh on Thursday. The committee has already scheduled his confirmation vote for Friday.
There has never been a Republican woman on the 202-year-old committee. There are four Democratic women on the committee right now, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). At the time of Anita Hill’s 1991 hearing accusing then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, no women were on the committee at all and all of the men questioning her were white.
Last week, HuffPost reported that Republicans were weighing the possibility of having their female aides question Blasey Ford on the sexual assault allegations because every Republican member on the committee is a man.
Mitchell is a registered Republican and donated to the campaign of Mark Brnovich (R), Arizona’s attorney general, according to the Washington Post.
Blasey Ford’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Tuesday saying that he wasn’t pleased with the choice to have a prosecutor question his client since this is not a trial.
He said in his letter, “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.”
He added, “The central point is that there is no precedent for this Committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the Committee from performing their responsibility to question witnesses.”