The FBI in nominee ambush cases, then and now

One of the Democrats’ main talking points regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh is that the FBI should investigate before the Senate Judiciary Committee hears from Ford and Kavanaugh. In support of this talking point, Democrats and their friends in the media note that the FBI investigated Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas prior to Hill and Thomas testifying before the Committee. Hill herself says the FBI should investigate.

It’s true that the FBI investigated Hill’s allegations. But what Democrats and their media friends don’t say is that Hill and her backers didn’t want the FBI involved and were extremely critical of its investigation of her claim.

Hill’s biggest defenders over the years have been Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, authors of Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. In their pro-Hill account, Mayer and Abramson say this about how Hill and her backers viewed the FBI becoming involved:

The use of the FBI this time was controversial in the Judiciary Committee. The FBI’s boss and chief client in any administration is ultimately the president, and in this instance the needs of the committee were different from those of the White House, which of course was sponsoring Thomas.

However, Joe Biden, the Democrat then in charge of the Committee decided that, for reasons of “appearances,” the FBI had to investigate if Hill’s allegations were to be taken up by the Committee.

Hill’s camp wasn’t at all pleased. One of her advisers, Susan Hoerchner, was “horrified at the notion.” And “Hill too thought it strange that Biden, rather than investigating her allegation, wanted to send the FBI to her doorstep.”

David Brock’s account, from his book The Real Anita Hill, is fully consistent with that of Mayer and Abramson on this point. Brock wrote:

The prospect of an FBI investigator apparently worried Hill, who first agreed to the interview and then called back to say she had changed her mind.

A chronology prepared by Chairman Biden says that Hill told staff “she did not want to go through with the FBI investigation because she was skeptical about its utility.” (Emphasis added)

Hill herself, in her book called (what else?) Speaking Truth to Power, recounted her opposition to the FBI’s involvement. According to Hill, she and Sue Ross (another adviser) “were both skeptical about how an agent might hear and present her information.” The interview itself confirmed her skepticism:

[After the interview] I still did not trust [the FBI’s] role in the process. Moreover, their inquiry was not a demanding or probing one. It was professional, but relaxed.

Hill added that she was “not comfortable talking about the matter to two strangers face-to-face.”

These statements are probably in part a reflection of how badly things played out for her after the FBI became involved. As Mayer and Abramson explained, Hill’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee contained “lurid and damaging” allegations of inappropriate behavior by Thomas that she did not make when the FBI interviewed her. The FBI agents who had interviewed Hill wrote an affidavit detailing the disparities. The suggestion was that Hill embellished before the Committee. This, say Mayer and Abramson, “delivered a clear blow to Hill’s credibility.”

Mayer and Abramson accused the two FBI agents of incompetence. Hill accused them of being “relaxed” and less than probing. She complained that the FBI became “actively involved in the harm that was done” to her.

These insults may well be sour grapes. Be that as it may, it’s the height of hypocrisy for Anita Hill now to be arguing that the FBI should investigate Dr. Ford’s allegations.

She didn’t want the FBI to investigate her claims. She talked to the FBI only because Biden made it clear this was the only way her claims would be entertained. And then she moaned about her treatment by the FBI.

Hill, though, will say anything. She’s a phony. That’s been clear all along. Recall her ludicrous attempt to defend Bill Clinton from serious, and true, claims of sexual misconduct.

The anti-Kavanaugh forces will also say and do anything. Anita Hill’s description of her experiences, if believed, (and leftists uniformly believe her), weighs strongly against the FBI becoming involved this time. And no one can doubt that if an FBI investigation went badly for Ford, her supporters would accuse the Bureau of incompetence, sexism, and toadying to the president.

The Democrats’ demand for FBI involvement in advance of the Committee hearing from Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh is thus a delaying tactic, pure and simple. For good reason, the FBI doesn’t want to become involved. For good reason, neither the Judiciary Committee nor the President has called on it to participate.

To learn more about Anita Hill’s attack on Clarence Thomas, I highly recommend