Twenty-seven years after Anita Hill testified that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, Republicans are using the same tactic to go after Christine Blasey Ford: portraying her as a pawn of the Democratic Party and liberal interest groups.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, recognizing that it would look bad for a group composed entirely of white men to question a woman speaking about sexual assault, hired a female sex crimes prosecutor to do the job for them on Thursday.
The prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, still pushed Republicans’ preferred line of questioning, which was no different than the one they employed when questioning Hill in 1991.
Blasey has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were teenagers. Mitchell honed in on whether political partisans had coached Blasey in her testimony or polygraph or had helped her pick her lawyers. She asked Blasey how she had paid for her polygraph.
These questions assumed that Blasey was part of the Democratic Party apparatus, a tool to derail the nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh himself claimed that Blasey’s allegations were a Democratic Party smear brought by someone as “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”
Immediately after Blasey was excused from the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) angrily told reporters that she was a tool of the Democrats, who want to win the Senate and then refuse to hold hearings for any future Supreme Court nominee of President Donald Trump.
“She is just as much a victim of this as Brett Kavanaugh is, and someone betrayed her trust!” Graham yelled.
“I don’t know who paid for her polygraph, but somebody did,” he added.
Republicans accused Hill of the same thing in 1991 when she testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her over many years. She was colluding with “slick lawyers ― the worst kind” from liberal groups, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) argued in 1991. (Hatch is one of three octogenarian senators to have questioned Hill in 1991 and Blasey on Thursday.)
“I believe that someone, some group, I don’t care who it was, in combination, came up with this story and used this process to destroy me,” Thomas said in his 1991 testimony about Hill’s allegations.
These arguments cropped up because Hill did not present herself as a liar. Supporters of Thomas had to devise a reason for her to come forward with her allegations that did not directly impugn her credibility.
“The Republicans said she was put up to it,” said David Brock, the former conservative reporter who smeared Hill in his infamous book The Real Anita Hill before becoming a liberal Democrat. “She was led in to testify by liberal advocacy groups. They could never say that she had a political motive herself.”