A Hawaii Democrat is asking men to just “just shut up and step up” when it comes to accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
At a news conference Tuesday night, Sen. Mazie Hirono harshly criticized the way Christine Blasey Ford has been treated in the wake of her accusations against Kavanaugh.
Ford has said a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denounced the allegations as “completely false.”
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But when asked if the women on the Senate Judiciary Committee can make a difference, Hirono said men should also take initiative to make a change.
“Of course it helps that there are women on that committee … but really, guess who is perpetrating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country,” Hirono said. “I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change.”
On today’s Judiciary Committee, all 11 Republicans are men while four of the 10 Democrats are women.
Hirono also commended Ford for “bravely” coming forward, saying women like her “need to be believed.”
“Her account is very credible,” Hirono said. “I believe her.”
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Ford’s account has been questioned by Republicans and others, because of the timing of the matter – her letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee was released in the lead-up to Kavanaugh’s hearing.
Since then she’s been receiving death threats, her lawyer said.
In a letter to the committee, Ford’s lawyers said Ford has been “the target of vicious harassment and even death threats,” and was forced to leave her home because of them.
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Hirono also implored men outside of the committee to do the right thing.
“I expect all of the enlightened men in our country, ‘cause there must be millions of men out there who are enlightened who also will rise up to say we cannot continue the victimization and the smearing of someone like Dr. Ford,” she said.
“And you know what, she is under no obligation to participate in the Republican efforts to sweep this whole thing under the rug, to continue this nomination on the fast track and to participate in a smear campaign and basically a railroad job. This is what they did to Anita Hill.”
Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault in 1991 – and publicly testified at a hearing against him.
Republicans were perceived as too harsh in their questioning of Hill. Democrats faced criticism for being timid in her defence.
In an opinion article in the New York Times Tuesday, Hill, who is now a professor at Brandeis University, said the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to demonstrate its appreciation for the seriousness of sexual assault claims in 1991. At the time, Thomas denied the accusation and was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
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But Hill – like Hirono – urged the committee to do better: “The 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee must demonstrate a clear understanding that sexual violence is a social reality.”
The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Monday and has invited Kavanaugh and California college professor Christine Blasey Ford to testify regarding her allegation against him.
Ford’s attorneys say she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies.
*with files from the Associated Press