Sen. Orrin Hatch didn’t believe the woman who accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment in 1991.
27 years later, Hatch defended another nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, against “unsubstantiated, uncorroborated claims from his teenage years.”
Hatch criticized Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee for “sitting on” allegations of sexual abuse against Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, raised by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for weeks.
“Serious allegations have been raised. If Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, he should not serve on the Supreme Court,” he said.
Utah’s senior senator also cited “anonymous letters with no name and no return address” and “porn star lawyers” as contributors to the “circus atmosphere” surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
“This is worse than Clarence Thomas, and I didn’t think it could get any worse than that,” he said. Hatch famously brought a copy of “The Exorcist” to Thomas’ 1991 hearing to suggest that his former employee, Anita Hill, had made up accusations of sexual harassment against him.
The 84-year-old senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, said earlier Thursday that Ford was an “attractive, good witness” and that he did not find her testimony “un-credible.”
Like all Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch and Utah Sen. Mike Lee did not question Ford directly during her testimony, relying instead on the Arizona prosecutor hired to handle her cross-examination.
But when it came time to question Kavanaugh, Republicans abandoned their prosecutor and addressed him directly.
“When did you first learn of Dr. Ford’s allegations against you?” Hatch asked Kavanaugh, who said he found out on Sept. 16 when the Washington Post first published the accusations.
“Isn’t that amazing,” said Hatch, before asking whether Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., raised the allegations with Kavanaugh privately prior to Sept. 16. “No,” said Kavanaugh.
When Ford’s allegations were first made public, Hatch said he believed she was “mistaken” and that he believed Kavanaugh, who denied the encounter.
But Ford, a California psychology professor and researcher, said under oath that she is “100 percent” sure that it was Kavanaugh, and not another boy, who held her down, groped her and tried to remove her clothes in a bedroom at a high school party in the early 1980s.
Kavanaugh angrily denied all allegations against him and said they have “destroyed” his family.
Committee Democrats continued to call for an FBI investigation. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., at one point challenged Kavanaugh to call for an investigation himself to clear his name.
“Let’s bring them in here and now,” Durbin said. “An FBI investigation is the only way to answer some of these questions.”
Republicans angrily rebuked that idea again and again.
“For the love of all that is sacred and holy, participate in the committee investigations that have been going on,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee. “If you have questions for Judge Kavanaugh, ask him. He’s right here."