North Dakota GOP Senate nominee Kevin Cramer said on Friday that the accusation against Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh was “even more absurd” than Anita Hill’s accusation against Clarence Thomas because Kavanaugh and his accuser were drunk teenagers when the alleged incident occurred.
Cramer added that Ford’s allegations were less legitimate than Hill’s in part because the assault she describes “never went anywhere.”
Cramer, who currently represents North Dakota as a congressman, was comparing Hill’s 1991 allegations of workplace sexual harassment against the later-confirmed Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas to California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s current allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
“If to the degree there was any legitimacy to Anita Hill’s claims, and she tried and didn’t prevail – Clarence Thomas did and America did – this case is even more absurd because these people were teenagers when this supposed alleged incident took place,” Cramer said on the Jarrod Thomas Show on 1310 KNOX, a local North Dakota radio station. “Teenagers. Not a boss-supervisor-subordinate situation, as the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill situation was claimed to be. These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement. They were drunk. Nothing evidently happened in it all, even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”
Ford alleged that Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk,” but only said she had one beer at the party.
Kavanaugh has denied being at the party and the allegation of sexually and physically assaulting Ford.
Cramer, who is running for US Senate against Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp, said in a statement to CNN, “The question I was answering was how the current accusation against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford compared to the Anita Hill accusation against Clarence Thomas. The point of my answer was that the current allegations were even more absurd.”
He continued, “At the time, there was a sense of legitimacy to what Anita Hill was saying, but it is hard not to be skeptical considering the timing and history of the allegation Brett Kavanaugh is facing. Of course, any allegation of this nature should be taken seriously, but absent significant evidence being brought forth immediately, I feel Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process should proceed.”
The race is widely considered a strong opportunity for Republicans to flip a seat, since President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 35 percentage points.
“Congressman Cramer’s comments are disturbing and they don’t reflect the values of North Dakota.” Heitkamp said in a statement to CNN.
In a story published on Sunday, Ford alleged to The Washington Post that as a high school student in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party. She told the paper that, at the time, she thought Kavanaugh might “inadvertently kill me” and that the assault “derailed me substantially for four or five years.”
Ford at first sent her complaint to Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, who sent it to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein told Democrats on the Senate Judiciary about the letter and referred the complaint to the FBI. Ford remained anonymous until she came forward with her story to the Post.
Through her lawyers, Ford is negotiating with Senate Republicans over the terms under which she might testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. She has requested that Mark Judge, whom she says witnessed the assault, be subpoenaed and that Kavanaugh testify before her. It appears Republicans are unlikely to accept these demands.
In his radio interview, Cramer said that, while Ford should be heard by the committee, she should not be allowed to testify after Kavanaugh, saying “that’s just not how it works.”
“You just can’t expect to defame a guy who’s got a stellar record and a stellar, nearly perfect reputation, near as I can tell, character-wise, and be able to be the last word,” the Senate nominee and congressman said.
Cramer went on to say that if the allegations are true it is a “tragedy” for Ford that her accusation is being used by Democrats as a “political weapon.”
“The other unfortunate thing, Jarrod, that I’d have to say in terms of an observation is that Ms. Ford, who has made this allegation – and if she, in fact, was a victim of this assault, you know, 36 years ago when she was a teenager and he was a teenager – if all of that is in fact true, the tragedy for her is that her testimony is being used as a political weapon and that even her own wishes, if they’re true, to Dianne Feinstein that she didn’t want it out to the public, were denied not by her but by Dianne Feinstein,” he said.
Feinstein has said that she held onto the letter privately because the accuser asked to remain confidential, but that media reports had forced her to go public with the existence of the letter. A spokesman for Feinstein’s office has denied that the media leaks came from Feinstein’s office.
Cramer later added that he feared that such accusations would prevent “good people” from seeking high office.
“Why would any good person ever put themselves forward to be a judge, an appellate court judge, a Supreme Court justice, frankly a member of Congress or the United States Senate or governor or anything else, if this is the new standard? You know, roll out an accusation that no one else can corroborate, and we believe the accuser without appropriate due process,” he said. “It’s going to get very difficult to get good people to do these jobs if this is going to be the standard if you have to have a perfect record in junior high and high school.”
This story has been updated to include Cramer and Heitkamp’s statements.