President Donald Trump and key Senate Republicans said this week that an FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t necessary before a scheduled hearing next week about a sexual assault allegation made against him.
But Anita Hill, a law professor and author who famously accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings 27 years ago, told the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff that “without an investigation, there cannot be an effective hearing.”
Hill provided testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee back in 1991, after she had publicly accused Thomas, then a nominee. The accusation, which he denied, upended his path to confirmation, but did not derail it: He was confirmed soon after and remains on the court to this day.
Hill said in her interview with the NewsHour that some of the current senators on the committee — including a few who questioned her more than two decades ago — “have already indicated that they have made up their mind” about Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who went public this week with her claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her while they were in high school.
She also questioned whether committee staffers were up to the task of investigating Ford’s accusation, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley has asserted. “I doubt that they are qualified to carry out this investigation in a neutral fashion,” Hill said.
In a New York Times op-ed earlier this week, Hill suggested that the panel could commission neutral investigators to conduct a probe and present their findings.
Hill told Woodruff that “it’s ironic that we have senators who are deciding about who is going to sit on the highest court, but they can’t really put partisanship aside long enough to put together a fair hearing to get to the truth about this situation.”
Other highlights from the Newshour interview:
On why a hearing is necessary:
“I think it’s in the best interests of both Dr. Blasey Ford as well as in the interests of Judge Kavanaugh. But I certainly think it is in the interests of the American public” and the Supreme Court,” said Hill.
On what Ford should expect from the process:
“We can’t promise her an outcome in a fair hearing,” Hill told Woodruff. “But what we ought to be able to promise her is a fair hearing. And a thorough investigation.”