ABC to Anita Hill: Is GOP Trying to ‘Destroy’ Kavanaugh Accuser?

During an exclusive softball interview with Anita Hill on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos teed her up to accuse Senate Republicans of trying to intimidate or “destroy” Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser by inviting Christine Blasey Ford to testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday.

Prior to the interview, correspondent Terry Moran reminded viewers of how Hill went public with accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas in a last-ditch effort by Democrats to derail his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991: “Blasey Ford’s story carries the echoes of Anita Hill’s, who faced a tumultuous hearing 27 years ago, after she made sexual harassment allegations against then-nominee Clarence Thomas, who repeatedly denied them and was confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

 

 

Leading into Stephanopoulos introducing Hill, Moran proclaimed: “The specter of what happened in those explosive hearings back in 1991 is looming over Washington right now. Republicans remember how they were blasted for their cluelessness and insensitivity.”

With his colleague having set the stage by already smearing Republicans, minutes later, Stephanopoulos asked Hill:

You know, your hearings famously came just five days after the allegations went public and you wrote that, that quick Senate consent to a hearing was actually quite cynical. I want to read what you wrote in your book. You said, “I believe that the Republicans who voted to hold the hearing did so because they felt that the idea of a public hearing would be so threatening that I would withdraw my complaint, or that even I did appear they would be able to destroy me.” Is that what’s at play here?

Hill agreed: “It seems to be what’s at play. It occurs to me that two things are going on, that either they don’t take this seriously, that they don’t – aren’t concerned about this complaint....or that they just want to get it over.”

As a Democratic political operative who worked for Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos routinely worked to destroy sexual harassment and assault accusers against his old boss. The hypocrisy of him accusing others of doing what he did is outrageous.  

Echoing demands by Ford and her attorneys, as well as Democrats, Hill called for a delay of the scheduled hearing: “So, six days is not enough for the senators who probably know very little about these kinds of claims. It’s not enough for them to inform themselves....There is no reason for them to rush this and push this with a six-day time frame.”

Earlier in the exchange, Stephanopoulos wondered: “Do you believe that Dr. Blasey Ford has a duty to testify publicly, even if conditions are not ideal?” Hill ranted: “Well, we’re not talking about whether the conditions are ideal. We’re talking about whether the conditions are actually tenable, whether or not it is going to be anything more than just a sham proceeding...”

Stephanopoulos briefly raised defenses of Kavanaugh:

One of the things you’re hearing from senators and some of Judge Kavanaugh’s allies is there’s no way to get to the bottom of this. This was 37 years ago, that Dr. Blasey Ford doesn’t even know exactly where it was or what day it was. That the charges are vague and this might have be a case, they’ve said, of mistaken identity.

Hill dismissed those points: “That is not for a layperson to determine. That’s why you have investigators who are experienced in these situations.”

Stephanopoulos urged Hill to share any advice she had for Ford. Hill argued:

My advice right now, and my experience, really is more directed to the senators and to the Senate Judiciary Committee in particular. And my advice is to push the pause button on this hearing, get the information together, bring in the experts, and put together a hearing that is fair, that is impartial, that is not biased by politics or by myth and bring this information to the American public.

Wrapping up the easy interview, Stephanopoulos urged Hill to place the burden of proof entirely on Kavanaugh to disprove the claims: “One final question, you’ve said that Judge Kavanaugh bears the burden of persuasion here. What does that mean exactly?” Hill obliged:

Well, that means that we are talking about an appointment for a lifetime on this nation’s highest court, making decisions that are going to affect Americans, probably for decades, given the value of precedent. It is an honor and a privilege to be nominated and to serve. It is not an entitlement. And so, a person coming into that position on the Supreme Court for a lifetime really has to have the full confidence of the American public. We need to be able to believe in the integrity of our courts, and that means believing in the integrity of the individuals who are on it.

On Tuesday, Stephanopoulos and a panel of ABC legal experts did the same thing, asking: “What will be the standard of proof for Kavanaugh?”

Here is a full transcript of the September 19 interview Stephanopoulos conducted with Hill on GMA:

7:06 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re joined now by the woman who was in the middle of those hearings, Dr. Anita Hill. Now a university professor of social policy at Brandeis. Dr. Hill, thank you for joining us this morning. I want to start out with what we learned overnight from Dr. Blasey Ford’s attorneys. They want and FBI investigation before she testifies. Is that the right move? Should the Senate honor her request?

ANITA HILL: Absolutely, it’s the right move. The hearing questions need to have a frame and the investigation is the best frame for that. A neutral investigation that can pull together the facts, create a record, so that the senators can draw on the information they receive to develop their question. Also helpful would be bringing in expert testimony or experts who can help them shape the questions that they’re going to ask. All of this is really – is really something that I don’t think can be avoided if you really want to get to the truth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say that –

HILL: If that’s the purpose of this hearing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess that gets to the question, because all indications now are that the President, the GOP majority will not honor that request, that they will hold the hearing without her, schedule a vote. So what happens then? Do you believe that Dr. Blasey Ford has a duty to testify publicly, even if conditions are not ideal?

HILL: Well, we’re not talking about whether the conditions are ideal. We’re talking about whether the conditions are actually tenable, whether or not it is going to be anything more than just a sham proceeding so that the senators can say we gave her a chance to talk and then move on to doing exactly what they were intending to do before she came forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, your hearings famously came just five days after the allegations went public and you wrote that, that quick Senate consent to a hearing was actually quite cynical. I want to read what you wrote in your book. You said, “I believe that the Republicans who voted to hold the hearing did so because they felt that the idea of a public hearing would be so threatening that I would withdraw my complaint, or that even I did appear they would be able to destroy me.” Is that what’s at play here?

HILL: It seems to be what’s at play. It occurs to me that two things are going on, that either they don’t take this seriously, that they don’t – aren’t concerned about this complaint, as many Americans are, and – or that they just want to get it over. I’m not sure which is in play. Maybe they’re not concerned or maybe they just don’t know how to handle this kind of a situation. But anyone who has been involved in anything similar to this, whether it’s sexual harassment or sexual assault, as being charged here, knows that these take time to evolve.

So, six days is not enough for the senators who probably know very little about these kinds of claims. It’s not enough for them to inform themselves. And so, that’s why it’s important to have a investigation. It’s important for them then to call on experts to help them shape credible questions to ask both Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh, and then to move forward. There is no reason for them to rush this and push this with a six-day time frame.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things you’re hearing –  

HILL: The other thing that I think that the senators are missing – just one more thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.

HILL: Because we’re talking about an obligation not only to Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh as witnesses, because this will change the trajectories of both of their lives. It’s already changed Dr. Blasey’s life. She’s been threatened and has had to move her family into hiding. But the American public really is expecting something more. The American public wants to know about what happened and they want to know that the Senate takes this seriously. And moving forward on this, at this pace, with this kind of sort of black hole of a process being foreseen by many of us, we are really under the impression that the Senate doesn’t take this seriously and doesn’t see this as part of their core responsibility to the confirmation process to the court and to the American public.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things you’re hearing from senators and some of Judge Kavanaugh’s allies is there’s no way to get to the bottom of this. This was 37 years ago, that Dr. Blasey Ford doesn’t even know exactly where it was or what day it was. That the charges are vague and this might have be a case, they’ve said, of mistaken identity.

HILL: That is not for a layperson to determine. That’s why you have investigators who are experienced in these situations.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what advice do you have? Perhaps no one in the country is in a better position to give Dr. Blasey Ford advice than you are. What advice do you have for her?

HILL: You know, my advice – Dr. Blasey and her attorney are working together. She has a seasoned attorney and she should be taking her advice from her attorney. My advice right now, and my experience, really is more directed to the senators and to the Senate Judiciary Committee in particular. And my advice is to push the pause button on this hearing, get the information together, bring in the experts, and put together a hearing that is fair, that is impartial, that is not biased by politics or by myth and bring this information to the American public.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question, you’ve said that Judge Kavanaugh bears the burden of persuasion here. What does that mean exactly?

HILL: Well, that means that we are talking about an appointment for a lifetime on this nation’s highest court, making decisions that are going to affect Americans, probably for decades, given the value of precedent. It is an honor and a privilege to be nominated and to serve. It is not an entitlement. And so, a person coming into that position on the Supreme Court for a lifetime really has to have the full confidence of the American public. We need to be able to believe in the integrity of our courts, and that means believing in the integrity of the individuals who are on it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Hill, thank you for your time this morning.

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