On CNN, former Sen. Danforth bemoans that report of sexual assault is "torment" for Kavanaugh and hurting his "sterling reputation"
John Danforth: "My own thought about this is exclusively about the harm that this causes an individual" accused of sexual assault
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From the September 19 edition of CNN's Wolf:
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JIM ACOSTA (GUEST HOST): You were against a delay then. Do you think a delay now is out of order? Is it unacceptable in your view?
JOHN DANFORTH (FORMER U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSOURI): I'm just not into the nitty gritty of what happens when. I mean what I said back then and it definitely was true, was that the whole thing was torture for a human being. Clarence [Thomas] obviously controversial but he was a friend of mine and he was -- everything that he lived for was under attack. It was really awful. He was just humiliated by the whole darned experience. So this is like reliving that. And I think that, I'm sure the same is true, I don't know Judge Kavanaugh, but for him. Here's a man who has had just a sterling reputation and clearly his reputation means a great deal to him. And he's got a family and he's got two little daughters and then this thing comes up.
His reputation was lauded during the hearing, with his serving in food kitchens for the poor and coaching kids and so on and so forth. People generally recognized that whatever you thought of his jurisprudence, here was an excellent human being, and now all that's in the trash. I think, what I thought back in the days of Clarence Thomas and what I really think now, is that there's got to be some reasonable end to the torment, and the longer it goes on, the more hurtful it is to a human being.
ACOSTA: What about the torment that a person like Christine Blasey Ford may be going through -- years of torment that she says in dealing with all of this, dealing with all of the memories of what she says happened to her 35, 36 years ago when she was in high school. Doesn't her story deserve to be told if she wants to tell it, if she wants to talk about what happened?
DANFORTH: Yes, of course. And I think everybody has made that clear, but I'm just saying that from the standpoint of somebody who's been nominated to the Supreme Court. Obviously you wouldn't be in the position of being nominated unless you had a wonderful reputation. All the checks made, background checks and so on that have gone on over a long period of time to vet this person and people are proud of their reputations, it's what they live for, being respected by their colleagues, being respected by other people, certainly being respected by their little daughters, which is the case with Judge Kavanaugh and then all of that is put in jeopardy because one person makes a charge about something that happened 30-some odd years ago.
So that's the situation we're in. She's written her letter, it's out there, and the FBI has had that letter for one week, I don't understand, I mean they're in charge of background investigations so they have had it, so have at it if they think it's worth investigating. But my own thought about this is exclusively about the harm that this causes an individual, the hurt that it causes.
I think that it's very important that Judge Kavanaugh be represented by counsel and that an experienced lawyer be able to conduct the questioning, not the senators. Because lawyers have an ethical responsibility to zealously represent the interests of their client, whereas members of the Senate are looking over their shoulder, how is this going to affect the next election. I know that after the Thomas confirmation, Alan Dixon, who was a Democrat from Illinois, who voted for Thomas, lost his next primary election on this issue, at least that was his view that it was on this issue.
So there's a tremendous pressure on politicians to do what advances them or helps them out politically. And in the #MeToo era, a politician is going to be very, very reluctant to either ask probing questions or vote against -- or vote for -- Judge Kavanaugh, it's a terrible position for him to be in. So I think the more it could be made like a court proceeding where there are presumptions of innocence, where there are burden of proof, and where there are lawyers who are able to ask questions to witnesses not just politicians in ten minute bursts of time. I think that's very, very important. The lesson that we learned from Clarence Thomas was it was a free for all. There was no real -- not only no due process, there was no real process whatever. And the more that this can be made a process, the fairer it's going to be to everybody.