Arizona prosecutor who questioned Kavanaugh accuser promoted

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor who questioned Christine Blasey Ford about her sexual assault allegation against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been promoted to a top prosecutorial job in metro Phoenix.

Rachel Mitchell was named chief deputy of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office last week, taking on the top staff position with Republican County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Mitchell was chief of the county’s sex crimes division when the 11 Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee enlisted her to question Ford, hoping to avoid the potentially bad optics of men interrogating a woman about her allegation.

Her performance was panned by many Republicans, who said she was ineffective at poking holes in Ford’s story, and by Democrats, who wondered why a woman who put perpetrators behind bars was questioning an accuser.

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The format in which she questioned Ford in five-minute increments before ceding the floor to Democratic senators, made for awkward and disjointed exchanges.

Ford accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her while he was drunk when they were teenagers. He denied her allegations and those of other women, and was later confirmed by the Senate.

Mitchell has a nearly three-decade career as a prosecutor, including 20 years in supervisory roles, said Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman for the county attorney’s office.

“As a prosecutor she has a proven record of being professional, fair, objective, and demonstrating a caring heart for victims,” Steele said in an email.

Mitchell was promoted to chief deputy on July 31. Her salary bump to $167,211 a year must be approved by the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors, the county’s governing body. The promotion was first reported by Phoenix New Times.

The promotion comes at a time of potential upheaval in the county attorney’s office.

Montgomery is one of seven finalists for an appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court and has drawn fierce opposition from civil rights advocates and enthusiastic support from his GOP allies.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey will make the appointment.

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