We know why they did it. Republican Senators didn’t want to look like male thugs beating up on a female victim of sexual abuse. Their goal was to make Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony unremarkable, so they (and Trump) could later say she was “very compelling,” and even, “completely believes what she’s saying,” (Ron Johnson-R Wisconsin), but still vote against her two days later. That’s why they hired Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell as their “hired gun.”
Trouble is, they didn’t want to allow an investigation, so Mitchell went into the hearing shooting in the dark, and repeatedly committing the main error a prosecutor can make: asking a question for which you don’t know the answer.
Mitchell began kindly, saying, “I just wanted to tell you the — the first thing that struck me from your statement this morning was that you are terrified, and I just wanted to let you know I’m very sorry. That’s not right.,” according to the transcript.
So, let’s do a play-by-play of the questioning.
Mitchell asked if Ford had been on any medication—No. Oops. Then asked if it appeared that Kavanaugh had been drinking even before the party—Yes. Oops. Ford had said that Kavanaugh turned up the music in the room, to hide her screams. Mitchell asked if there was any music downstairs—No. Oops. Did she hear anything else—Yes, she heard them bouncing against the walls as they walked down the stairs.
Then Mitchell brought up that Ford had told her husband early in their marriage—long before the 2012 counseling session. Oops.
Then, Mitchell hoped to show that Ford had been motivated by Democrats, so she asked if Ford “had you spoken to any member of Congress?”—No. Oops. Did you contact The New York Times?—No. Oops. And then, Mitchell asked why—to which Ford said, “I wasn’t interested in pursuing the media route.” –Oops. Then Mitchell asked why she contacted a Democratic representative about the issue, to which Ford said, “Where I live, the congresswoman is a Democrat.” Oops.
Mitchell asked if Ford had retained counsel, to which Ford said, “No. I didn’t think — I didn’t understand why I would need lawyers, actually.” Oops. Then, Mitchell noted, “You asked Senator Feinstein to maintain confidentiality,” which supports both Mitchell and Feinstein. Later, Mitchell asked again, and Ford answered, “It was my understanding that it was going to be kept confidential period.” Then, Mitchell acknowledged that Ford did not share the letter with anyone else. You shared it with no one else? Correct. Do you know how it became public? No.
Ford gave a letter to her representative, asking her to give it to Feinstein, in case it would help in the Kavanaugh hearing. Mitchell asked, “Did anyone help you write the letter?”–No. Oops. “Did you ever give Senator Feinstein or anyone else the permission to release that letter?”–No. Oops. Eventually, friends told Ford she should get an attorney. Mitchell asked if her representative of Feinstein advised her—No. Oops.
Then, there was the polygraph. Mitchell asked why Ford decided to take a polygraph, and Ford said, “I didn’t see any reason not to do it.” Oops. Mitchell asked if she was advised to take the polygraph, and Ford said, “Based on the advice of the counsel, I was happy to undergo the polygraph test, although I found it extremely stressful, much longer than I anticipated. I told my whole life story, I felt like, but I endured it. It was fine.” Then, Mitchell asked why Ford took the polygraph test in a hotel room, rather than in the former FBI officer’s office. Ford replied, “I had left my grandmother’s funeral at Fort Lincoln Cemetery that day, and was on tight schedule to get a plane to Manchester, New Hampshire, so he was willing to come to me, which was appreciated.” Grandmother’s funeral—OUCH.
Mitchell tried to recover by suggesting that Ford might have been coached, “Have you ever had discussions with anyone, beside your attorneys, on how to take a polygraph?” FORD: Never. MITCHELL: And I don’t just mean countermeasures, but I mean just any sort of tips, or anything like that. No—Oops.
After lunch, Mitchell asked who paid for the polygraph, to which her attorneys said they had—“as is routine.” Then, Mitchell asked if “anyone” was going to help her with her fees, and she said she was aware of “GoFundMe” sites she didn’t understand.
Later, Mitchell noted that Ford had asked for an FBI investigation, and asked if she would participate? “Happy to.” Oops. Would you be “happy to” be interviewed by staff members of this committee? Absolutely. Double oops.
Mitchell was hoping a Democrat was helping fund Ford’s attorneys. The attorneys said they were working pro bono (free). Oops.
Frustrated, Mitchell asked if Ford had seen the questions in advance. No. did anyone tell her what questions would be asked? No. The questions Mitchell was going to ask? Absolutely not.
Mitchell noted that Ford’s friend, Leland, didn’t see an attack, and said she didn’t remember parties from back then. Mitchell asked why, and Ford said, “I don’t expect that P.J. and Leland would remember this evening. It was a very unremarkable party. It was not one of their more notorious parties, because nothing remarkable happened to them that evening. They were downstairs. [However] And Mr. Judge is a different story. I would expect that he would remember that this happened.”
Then, Mitchell came back to whether Feinstein was involved in her coming forward. No. Oops.
That was the damage Mitchell did to Kavanaugh’s case. Then she questioned Kavanaugh, himself. She began by giving Kavanaugh a sheet defining sexual behavior, and asking him to read it. Then she noted that “it includes rubbing or grinding your genitals against somebody, clothed or unclothed. And I would also point out that the definition applies whether or not the acts were sexually motivated or, for example, horseplay.”
So right off the bat, Mitchell pointed out that even if Kavanaugh’s defenders called it “horseplay,” it’s still sexual abuse. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Then Mitchell got Kavanaugh to admit that he knew the people Ford said Kavanaugh knew, including Mark Judge, whom Ford identified as the only witness. Kavanaugh went on to say his good buddy was an alcohol abuser and drank himself almost to death. Ouch.
In the next segment, Mitchell asked if Kavanaugh drank in high school, to which Kavanaugh replied, “Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer.. .and we — yeah, we drank beer, and I said sometimes — sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers.” Trump didn’t like that segment at all.
From there, Mitchell noted Kavanaugh’s unprecedented interview on Fox, noting, “there were times in high school when people might have had too many beers on occasion. Does that include you?”
MITCHELL: OK. Have you ever passed out from drinking?
KAVANAUGH: I — passed out would be — no, but I’ve gone to sleep. . .
Then, Mitchell asked if, after drinking in high school that he woke up in a different location. . .or with his clothes in a different condition. . .or that a friend told him he did something he didn’t remember. Then she asked if he had ground himself against Ford, tried to remove her clothing. Even though Kavanaugh said no, the problem with asking these questions is that it brings it back into the viewer’s mind. To make matters worse, Mitchell asked him to look at the definition of sexual behavior—as if he had no idea what was and was not sexual behavior.
Later, Mitchell said, “Are you aware that in Maryland, there is no statute of limitations that would prohibit you being charged, even if this happened in 1982?” This could be seen as pointing out that Kavanaugh had a motive for lying since if Ford’s account were to be believed, Kavanaugh would still be liable for prosecution.
And as hard as the senators tried to ignore the newer Julie Swetnick allegations, Mitchell didn’t, going on to define the allegations as, “repeatedly engaged in drugging and gang-raping, or allowing women to be gang-raped?” Again, you don’t want to plant these images into the audience’s minds.
At that point, they yanked Mitchell out of the chair. Regardless of which side you’re on, you’ll have to agree with Chris Wallace on Fox News, who called it a disaster for Republicans, according to the Daily Caller.
“This was extremely emotional, extremely raw, and extremely credible,” Wallace said. “Nobody could listen to her deliver those words and talk about the assault and the impact it had had on her life and not have your heart go out to her.”
“This is a disaster for the Republicans,” Wallace asserted, adding that Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell is “treating this like a deposition, like a court hearing.”