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Kavanaugh's accuser should unfortunately expect the Anita Hill treatment from Republicans

I wrongly helped orchestrate the character assassination of Clarence Thomas' accusers. This is how it all worked.
Anita Hill
University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 11, 1991.AP file

Watching the news of allegations by Christine Blasey Ford of attempted rape against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh play out on cable television, millions of Americans probably feel like they've seen this movie before — but few feel that way more than me.

It was 27 years ago that law professor Anita Hill came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. What unfolded during the Thomas confirmation was ugly and, after a brutal attack on Hill's motives and credibility by the Republicans, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate on a narrow 52-48 vote.

Based on my own role inside the Republican attack machine at that time, I can predict that similarly hard-knuckled tactics will be used against Ford, even though the times have thankfully changed. The stakes for the organized right are just as high now as they were then: Like Thomas, Kavanaugh is a cause célèbre for the conservative movement as they seek to cement a majority on the Supreme Court for a generation.

They will defend him at any cost.

The pending Republican smear campaign cannot be tolerated. The only way to prevent it is for confirmation process to come to a halt immediately until these allegations are fully investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

If my experience during the Thomas nomination was any indication, the lengths to which Republicans will go in order to discredit Ford know no bounds, and the Anita Hill saga provides a disturbing roadmap.

Shortly after the confirmation vote, for instance, a donor approached The American Spectator — a right-wing magazine to which I was then a contributor — to underwrite an "investigation" of Hill's charges. The idea was to cleanse Clarence Thomas's tarnished reputation for the history books by destroying Anita Hill. I took on the assignment with relish, but things didn't quite work out as planned.

In my article and in a subsequent best-selling book "The Real Anita Hill," I lifted the Republican playbook against Hill (the same playbook Ford should now expect to be used against her) but I went further than Republicans were then willing to go in public.

Mine is a tawdry and cautionary tale for what the nation will now endure as Ford's allegations are fully aired in the media.

In a reference to the "nuts and sluts" defense commonly deployed by the accused in such cases, I portrayed Hill as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" — a vicious and wholly unfounded smear I regret to this day having written.

But I didn't stop with Hill. There was another woman in the wings — Angela Wright — with similar allegations to Hill's that would have established a pattern of harassing behavior by Thomas. But then-Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden ruled that Wright's testimony, and that of two other corroborating witnesses, be suppressed.

In defending Thomas to the hilt, I used Wright's FBI file, which had been illegally leaked to me by Republican Senate staff, to depict Wright as both emotionally unstable and sexually promiscuous.

Two years later, in 1994, I was asked to review Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer's book, "Strange Justice," which reported additional credible evidence for Hill's allegations. Then on the Supreme Court, an angry and vindictive Justice Thomas leaked to me private details from a divorce proceeding of yet another accuser, Kaye Savage, to help me discredit the book.

Yet after reading the convincing account of "Strange Justice," once-stalwart defenders of Thomas who had been the trusted sources for "The Real Anita Hill" admitted to me that they always knew Thomas was guilty as charged, and that the attacks on Hill were pure naked politics.

I then realized that I had been complicit in a campaign of character assassination — and I understood that Clarence Thomas almost certainly perjured himself to gain his seat. (Years later, I wrote a private memo to Sen. Hillary Clinton laying out all this and more in a case for Thomas's impeachment).

Mine is a tawdry and cautionary tale for what the nation will now endure as Ford's allegations are fully aired in the media.

So when you hear from Republicans crying foul that this is nothing but an eleventh-hour political hit job by Democrats — as Senators Hatch and Cornyn (twice) have already begun to do — don't believe them for a minute. Both Hill and Ford demonstrated incredible fortitude and bravery in coming forward to tell their stories; neither had a prior history in party politics or an obviously political motive. And, if anything in Ford's case, the lead Democrat on the committee, Dianne Feinstein, slow-walked the allegations as Ford debated the wisdom of coming forward at all, in order to protect her.

Kavanaugh’s categorical denial of Ford's account is not credible. Until these charges are fully and fairly investigated, people need to see through all the Republican smoke and take his protestations with a heavy grain of salt. America can't afford another perjurer on the highest court in the land.