Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans said Tuesday that they hired an outside attorney to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her, at the committee's hearing on Thursday, NBC News reported.
For several hours after the announcement, senators would not reveal the lawyer's identity — only her gender — drawing criticism from Democrats and women's advocates. Late Tuesday night, they revealed that Rachel Mitchell, an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, would be serving as investigative counsel in the nomination hearing.
"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," Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "I’m very appreciative that Rachel Mitchell has stepped forward to serve in this important and serious role."
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office released a statement lauding Mitchell's tenure as chief of the Special Victims Division, saying she is "professional, fair, objective, and has a caring heart for victims."
But, Democrats slammed the decision. "This is not a criminal prosecution. It’s a Senate hearing," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. "I’m amazed they would not ask questions themselves."