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Outside counsel in Kavanaugh hearings argues Ford case weak on legal grounds

Outside counsel in Kavanaugh hearings argues Ford case weak on legal grounds
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The outside counsel hired by Republicans to question Christine Blasey Ford last week has concluded Ford's allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is "weak" on legal grounds.

"A 'he said, she said' case is incredibly difficult to prove," Rachel Mitchell wrote in a memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee obtained by The Hill on Sunday night. "But this case is even weaker than that."

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Mitchell, an Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor, wrote she does not believe a "reasonable prosecutor" would bring Ford's case to trial. 

She emphasized her background is not in politics, so she can only present an analysis of the allegations from a legal perspective. The memo also doesn't include any analysis of Kavanaugh's testimony, for which Mitchell was present.

Mitchell in the memo pointed to inconsistencies in Ford's recounting of the incident, Ford's inability to remember "key details" from the night and the fact that none of the other attendees at the party in question have corroborated Ford's account. 

Ford in a public hearing last week accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed and groping her during a party in 1982. She said he put his hand over her mouth at one point to keep her from screaming while he and his friend Mark Judge, who was looking on, laughed.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusation. The other witnesses Ford named, including Judge, have denied attending the party — including her "longtime friend," Mitchell pointed out. 

Senate Judiciary Republicans hired Mitchell to handle Ford's questioning during the hearing in order to avoid the optics of an all-male panel grilling her over the allegation. Many Republican strategists after the hearing questioned her role in the day, wondering whether Mitchell's detail-oriented approach helped or hurt Republicans. 

While Mitchell briefly questioned Kavanaugh, most Republican senators ultimately chose to question him themselves.

Mitchell in the memo pointed out that Ford does not remember how she got home from the party that night, which Mitchell grilled her over during the hearing. 

Committee staffers during Ford's questioning handed out maps showing the seven miles between her home and the country club that Ford says was near the house where Kavanaugh allegedly attacked her. Ford during the hearing said she does not remember how she got home, though she knows she didn't drive.

"Given that all this took place before cell phones, arranging a ride home would not have been easy," Mitchell wrote. 

Senate Judiciary staffers did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The FBI is currently investigating Ford's claim as well as the allegation from Deborah Ramirez, a woman who says Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his penis in her face during a party at Yale University in the 1980s.

Many Republicans last week referred to Ford's testimony as "credible" and survivors of sexual assault have mobilized around her decision to go public with the accusation.