After a Senate hearing where Brett Kavanaugh responded to credible accusations of sexual assault by misleading senators about his past, shouting partisan conspiracy theories about Senate Democrats and the Clintons, and demonstrating a temperament completely unbefitting a Supreme Court Justice, Republicans have put a short hold on his nomination. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony – a persuasive and heartbreaking account of her assault by Kavanaugh when she was fifteen years old – convinced at least one GOP Senator that the Senate Judiciary Committee had to “hit the pause button” and allow an FBI investigation.
While a supplemental FBI background check investigation is the bare minimum due diligence that should be provided to Dr. Blasey Ford and other survivors, it’s important to remember that the country has been here before. Twenty-seven years ago, the FBI launched an investigation into Anita Hill’s credible allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. The investigation was wanting in almost every conceivable way, from an insufficient witness list to rank partisanship corrupting the process.
Thankfully, the country has come a long way since 1991 in terms of how we treat survivors of sexual violence. Women across America are sharing their stories – in texts, quiet conversations, and public displays throughout the country, processing their own trauma and personal experiences with sexual violence.
And yet, on Friday, the Trump Administration’s instructions to the FBI proved that we are about to repeat the mistakes of the past. The similarities between Trump’s apparent sham investigation of Brett Kavanaugh and the investigation of Clarence Thomas are striking.