The exchange underscored the odd format of the first half of the hearing, in which Mitchell, who normally prosecutes alleged perpetrators instead of defending them, quizzed Ford on behalf of Republicans, who sat silent behind her.
Rachel Mitchell had a hard mission as the lawyer hired by Republican senators to question the woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault: test her memory, but treat her respectfully.
The prosecutor who was hired by the Senate Judiciary Committee to assist Republicans, addressed the letter to "All Republican Senators", said no senator approved the memo.
Ford, a university professor in California, has accused Kavanaugh, a conservative judge, of sexually assaulting her in 1982 when both were high school students.
Mitchell wrote in a memo released late Sunday that there were inconsistencies in Ford's testimony and that given the information at hand she would not bring criminal charges against Kavanaugh. She said he pinned her to a bed, attempted to forcibly remove her clothes and prevented her from screaming.
She said to Ford the best way to "get to memory and truth in terms of interviewing victims of trauma" is for the alleged victim and a trained interviewer to meet one-on-one privately.
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Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Senate leaders agreed to delay a final vote on Kavanaugh's nomination to allow for a one-week FBI investigation.
Mitchell, who worked as a sex-crimes prosecutor for almost 25 years in Arizona, pointed out that Ford appeared to jump around on the timing of the alleged sexual assault, ranging from the "mid 1980s" to "early 1980s", and then the "summer of 1982".
An official at a nonprofit working to end sexual and domestic violence describes an Arizona prosecutor set to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about sexual assault allegations as straightforward. "Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them".
According to the prosecutor's report, the Californian college professor, Ford has not offered a reliable account of when the assault happened, struggled until recently to identify Kavanaugh by name as the attacker and changed her description of the incident.
Senate Republicans are bringing in Mitchell, also a Republican, to question both Kavanaugh and his first accuser at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
Kavanaugh's nomination is on hold in the Senate while the FBI re-opens a background investigation to examine certain allegations of sexual misconduct.