Political News

Merkley: Ford receiving 'worse treatment than Anita Hill got'

Posted September 27, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT

— Sen. Jeff Merkley said Thursday that Christine Blasey Ford is receiving "worse treatment than Anita Hill got" from the Senate Judiciary Committee when she levied sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991.

"In that case, the President immediately said, 'new issues, the FBI is going to investigate. We'll get the facts,'" the Oregon Democrat said to CNN's "New Day" co-anchor Alisyn Camerota. "That's not happening now."

Merkley expressed disappointment with the committee's handling of Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh and the White house have repeatedly denied her allegation.

"With Anita Hill, there were many, many people who came to testify and shed light on the situation. This committee is blocking that," he said.

Hill testified in October 1991 that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked with him at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In hearings that lasted for three days, the committee heard testimony from more than a dozen outside witnesses. An FBI investigation was also conducted to look into Hill's claims. Ford and Senate Democrats' request for a similar investigation into her claims has gone unfulfilled.

Last week, Hill wrote in a New York Times op-ed that the committee "failed" to fulfill its proper role in its handling of Thomas' nomination and called for an independent investigation into Ford's allegations.

"A fair, neutral and well-thought-out course is the only way to approach Dr. (Ford) and Judge Kavanaugh's upcoming testimony," Hill wrote. "The details of what that process would look like should be guided by experts who have devoted their careers to understanding sexual violence."

In a statement released on Sunday, Ford's lawyers said they were dissatisfied that the committee did not plan to subpoena Mark Judge, whom Ford has alleged was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her.

Judge has denied having any memory of such an incident and said he did not want to testify.

Merkley went on to call Thursday's hearing, in which both Ford and Kavanaugh will testify, "a farce" and said the treatment that Ford is receiving is "inappropriate."

"I am appalled and embarrassed by what is happening in the US Senate right now," he said.

The committee plans to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination early Friday.