It’s not surprising that five partisan Democrats would write a letter criticizing Rachel Mitchell (“Why didn’t Rachel Mitchell know her role in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was a sham?”). After all, her respectful questioning of Christine Blasey Ford laid bare significant doubts about Dr. Ford’s claims.
It is surprising that they would attempt to cloak their criticism under the guise of “former prosecutors.”
They claim Mitchell made a “grave error” by questioning Dr. Ford “without the benefit of an impartial investigation,” assuming the questioning itself was something other than a direct effort to obtain information. There was an impartial investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations against him.
Memo was necessary, not a ‘grave error’
Surely these former prosecutors must know that it is routine and preferable to start an investigation by talking to the person alleging the offense. That this interaction occurred in public was due to Dr. Ford’s refusal to talk except at a public hearing – and to The Washington Post – despite the Senate Judiciary Committee’s willingness to travel to California.
The lawyers certainly know, but did not acknowledge, that the Democratic staff was invited to participate in every aspect of the review.
The lawyers also claim it was a “grave error” to draft the memorandum in which she summarized the testimony and reported her conclusions. Had she only provided a verbal report of her well-founded observations and conclusions, critics would have decried the secretive and undocumented manner in which she spoke to senators.
They claim the memorandum was written “without the benefit of an impartial investigation.”
The memorandum was written after extensive bipartisan questioning of Dr. Ford and after a careful review of each of her written statements. As the American people now know, statements taken by the FBI from every witness identified by Dr. Ford failed to corroborate, and even contradicted, what she said. Nothing in the subsequent FBI interviews contradicted anything in the memorandum.
Clearly, they’ve forgotten their history
Their claim that Mitchell should not have agreed to participate in the hearing “regardless” is equally laughable. Her expert and respectful approach, witnessed by the entire world, is the best evidence of the value she brought to the process and drowns out the noise.
Through Mitchell’s patient and respectful questioning, Americans heard directly from Dr. Ford for more than 30 minutes, while Democrats only permitted her to speak for 10 minutes.
As to the claim that “[n]o reasonable prosecutor would rely on a partisan investigation as a basis to question a witness…,” perhaps these “former prosecutors” are too far removed from their country’s history to know better.
Recall Fred Thompson’s role questioning witnesses during the Watergate hearings. It was Thompson who asked former White House aide Alexander Butterfield the damning question, “Mr. Butterfield, were you aware of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?” There is a rich history of lawyers questioning witnesses during Senate committee hearings.
Mitchell’s conduct lifts up the profession
Mitchell was not acting as a “prosecutor,” but rather as a highly experienced lawyer asking questions for a Senate committee. She did not write a “prosecution memo” but a summary prepared in the light of her expertise. That these lawyers don’t like her conclusions does not make them any less reliable.
Left without facts or law, the lawyers are left with sheer hyperbole: Mitchell, they claim, has “done damage to the rule of law, sown confusion …” It seems these “prosecutors” are so “former” that their current partisanship obscures their judgment.
Rachel Mitchell conducted herself in way that brought credit to herself, her profession and our state. She has earned our thanks.
The column was signed by Bob Corbin, former Arizona attorney general; John Gillis, former director of Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice; Mel McDonald, former Superior Court judge and U.S. attorney for Arizona; Dave Cole, former Superior Court judge and prosecutor; Mike McVey, former Superior Court judge and prosecutor; Mike Bailey, former prosecutor; and Steve Twist, former chief assistant Arizona attorney general.