Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was interviewed Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss why he and his colleagues decided to hire an outside counsel to interview Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Ford alleges that she was assaulted more than 30 years ago by Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to sit on the Supreme Court. She and Kavanaugh are scheduled to testify on the matter on Thursday.
At one point while discussing why the committee Republicans decided to hire Rachel Mitchell, a Maricopa County, Arizona, prosecutor, rather than conduct the hearing themselves, Kennedy forgot her name and needed help from MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell (no relation) to recall it.
Because of Mitchell’s expertise in prosecuting sex crimes criminals — she successfully prosecuted a Catholic priest in 2005 who was charged with assaulting young boys, according to reporting from the Washington Post — committee members decided “that we would hire somebody who has expertise in trying to ferret out the facts in a case where sexual assault has been alleged,” Kennedy explained.
That’s when the senator’s slip-up occurred. “I don’t know that every committee member has given up the right to ask questions, but I know I tend to differ to, uh, I can’t remember the name of the prosecutor,” he said.
The response from Kennedy elicited skepticism from some on social media, including from comedian Lizz Winstead, who pointed out Kennedy was putting his faith and trust in a woman whose name he couldn’t recall.
Just now on Morning Joe, Louisiana GOP judiciary member Senator Kennedy, just said he trusts the woman whose name he can't remember to do the questioning. #MorningJoe
— Lizz “Fair Process" Winstead (@lizzwinstead) September 26, 2018
Kennedy went on to explain that he and the Judiciary Committee would be accommodating many of the requests that Dr. Ford had made — although he did emphasize that Dr. Ford did not request an outside counsel to ask her questions.
“Dr. Ford wanted one round, she asked for frequent breaks. We’re going to do it in a smaller room at her request, one camera,” Kennedy said.
Michael Bromwich, Dr. Ford’s lawyer, expressed doubts about the purpose for hiring an outside counsel.
“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,” he said, according to CNN.
Mitchell has successfully prosecuted several sex crimes in Maricopa County. In addition to her work prosecuting the priest more than a decade ago, she’s also notably worked to pursue other sex crimes that former Sheriff Joe Arpaio refused to investigate between the years 2005 and 2007.
According to the Washington Post, in an interview she gave in 2011, Mitchell, who is a registered Republican, explained she was drawn to the special crimes unit and sex crimes in particular in order to help those who couldn’t fight back against their abusers.
“It struck me how innocent and vulnerable the victims of these cases really were,” Mitchell said.