September 26, 2018

Senator Hassan on Senate Floor: “We Will Not Stand for These Attempts to Silence Women and Shove Them Back Into the Dark”

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To watch the Senator’s floor speech click here

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan delivered a speech today on the Senate floor, calling out the failure by some of her colleagues to take seriously the multiple credible allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh.  

“Make no mistake, in 2018, survivors are still not being taken seriously – and that is despite the extraordinary prevalence of sexual assault, which is hard to even quantify given that an estimated two out of three sexual assaults go unreported,” Senator Hassan said. “It is simply unacceptable that survivors are still not being listened to and taken seriously. And to President Trump and Republican leadership I say – we will not stand for these attempts to silence women and shove them back into the dark. Mr. President, these allegations of sexual assault are extremely serious and they are credible. The way that these survivors have been attacked is disgusting.”

The Senator also pointed out that the process Senate Republicans are undertaking in response to the allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh is even worse than the process in response to the allegations against then-nominee to the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas in 1991. While the 1991 hearings are infamous for the way that Dr. Hill was attacked and disrespected, in that case an FBI investigation was conducted, the hearings went on for multiple days, and some corroborating witnesses were allowed to testify. Today, Republican leadership has indicated that none of those things will be allowed to happen.

Senator Hassan concluded by saying, “The eyes of the country – and the world – are upon us, and I fear what they will see in the coming days. It is not too late for the Senate to pause this sham process and make clear that this body listens to survivors and takes their experiences, and their pain, seriously. However, if the Senate continues on its present course, it will be an abject failure by this body that will not soon be forgotten.”

 

See below for Senator Hassan’s full remarks or watch her speech here:

Mr. President, over the past weeks, we have been reminded yet again why it is so hard for survivors of sexual assault to come forward.

For far too long, women who bravely share their stories of sexual assault have been attacked, diminished, and marginalized. And I am sad to say that includes by some of my fellow Senators.

In some respects, we have seen remarkable progress since the Me Too movement began roughly one year ago. More women have felt empowered and supported to speak out, and our society has begun to grapple with the horrific and widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.

But sadly, these past weeks have been a reminder that in many ways, we’re still stuck in 1991. 

1991, of course, was when Anita Hill courageously testified before the Senate, sharing allegations of sexual harassment by then-nominee to the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas.

Women – and men – across the country watched in horror as Dr. Hill was attacked and disrespected by the men of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Yet here we are, 27 years later, and Senate Republican leadership has made clear that they will do everything they can to ram Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination through. They have come up with a process that is even worse – even more disrespectful and disheartening to survivors – than the one we saw in 1991. 

In 1991, the FBI investigated allegations of sexual [harassment] against Mr. Thomas. The hearings stretched on for multiple days. And some corroborating witnesses were allowed to testify.

In 2018, Republican leadership has indicated that none of those things will be allowed to happen. None of them. They have simply scheduled a check-the-box hearing – rejecting calls to ask the FBI to re-open its background investigation, refusing to allow other witnesses or evidence to be heard, and limiting the questioning from Senators.

Lawyers for Dr. Ford announced that they have submitted sworn affidavits to the Senate Judiciary Committee from four individuals whom she shared these allegations with well before President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Yet not a single one of these corroborating witnesses will be called to testify before the committee. Nor will the witness that Dr. Ford alleges was in the room while she was assaulted. And the FBI will not be asked to speak with these – or any other – witnesses either. This process isn’t a serious attempt to get the truth, it’s a complete sham.

And some of my colleagues are hardly even trying to hide the fact that this is not a serious investigation as they pledge that these credible allegations will not stop Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Some of my colleagues have complained about how unfair it is to Judge Kavanaugh that these women have dared to come forward. And they have shown little sympathy for the attacks these women are facing; or interest in the corroboration they are willing to offer.

They have ignored the real questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility and truthfulness, and his blatant disrespect for women.

Make no mistake, in 2018, survivors are still not being taken seriously – and that is despite the extraordinary prevalence of sexual assault, which is hard to even quantify given that an estimated two out of three sexual assaults go unreported.

It is simply unacceptable that survivors are still not being listened to and taken seriously. And to President Trump and Republican leadership I say – we will not stand for these attempts to silence women and shove them back into the dark.

Mr. President, these allegations of sexual assault are extremely serious and they are credible. The way that these survivors have been attacked is disgusting. Yet even before we were aware of these allegations, it was clear that Judge Kavanaugh should not serve on the United States Supreme Court.

I watched Judge Kavanaugh’s responses to my colleagues during his initial nomination hearings. I examined his judicial writings and past public statements. I reviewed the limited number of documents that Republicans shared about Judge Kavanaugh’s time working in the White House.

What the totality of this record makes abundantly clear is that on issue after issue, Judge Kavanaugh has promoted a judicial philosophy that diminishes the rights of individuals, particularly women and people of color; puts corporations before people; and promotes a partisan right-wing ideology at odds with the will of the American people.

But, in addition to a record and an outlook that is disqualifying, there's Judge Kavanaugh's lack of credibility. Even in his initial hearings, Judge Kavanaugh raised serious questions about his credibility amid a lack of truthfulness on a range of issues stretching back to his time with the Starr investigation and his work in the Bush Administration.

Questions about his credibility that have only been reinforced by his response to the multiple allegations of sexual assault he’s now facing, as evidenced by those who knew him coming forward to dispute his statements.

Mr. President, the eyes of the country – and the world – are upon us, and I fear what they will see in the coming days. It is not too late for the Senate to pause this sham process and make clear that this body listens to survivors and takes their experiences, and their pain, seriously. However, if the Senate continues on its present course, it will be an abject failure by this body that will not soon be forgotten.

Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.    

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