Clarence Thomas: A Silent Justice Speaks Out

But Hill had not told the FBI any specific details of Thomas's alleged harassment when agents interviewed her. Instead, as other books on the hearings detail, Hill would later work with her new advisers and a Senate staffer, James Brudney, to draw up a detailed statement that would include allegations of how Thomas graphically discussed sex and sex scenes, pornography and penises. But none of it was in the FBI's report, because Hill did not provide those details when the agents interviewed her.

Thomas says he knew none of that. He wrote that by then, he felt like a character out of Franz Kafka's The Trial: "Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K," Kafka's novel begins, "for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."

"Not only had I done nothing wrong, but I didn't even know what I was supposed to have done," Thomas wrote.

The day of the committee's vote, Thomas spoke by phone with Biden, who told him he would vote against his nomination. Thomas wrote that Biden said he'd regretted his vote to confirm Antonin Scalia, and that he worried Thomas would prove to be as conservative.

Biden, by that point, also had seen Hill's detailed statement, which Thomas did not know. But he offered Thomas his assurances: "Judge, I know you don't believe me, but if any of these… matters come up, I will be your biggest defender."

"He was right about one thing: I didn't believe him," Thomas wrote. "Neither did Virginia. As he reassured me of his goodwill, she grabbed a spoon from the silverware drawer, opened her mouth wide, stuck out her tongue as far she could, and pretended to gag herself."

Later that day, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-7 along party lines to recommend Thomas's nomination to the full Senate, with one Democrat, Sen. Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, joining the Republicans. Biden, who had seen Hill's statement, proclaimed before voting against Thomas: "For this senator, there is no question with respect to the nominee's character, competence, credentials, or credibility… This is about what he believes, not about who he is."

With the full Senate vote scheduled for a week and a half away, Thomas wrote that "many people supposed the worst was over." Justice Souter sent a handwritten note of congratulations. Chief Justice William Rehnquist's assistant called to offer assistance in setting up his chambers. The White House believed it had between 70 and 80 votes lined up to support him, Thomas wrote.

But Thomas wrote that he "didn't trust my enemies" and "wouldn't rest easy until the votes were tallied."

Thomas "never feared the results of the FBI's investigations, not merely because I was innocent but also because I trusted the agents to behave professionally," he wrote. "What I feared was that if Anita's charges became public, the media would jump to its usual conclusion that I was the villain — and that was what happened."

The next week — three days before the Senate was to vote on Thomas's nomination — the contents of Hill's confidential sworn statement were leaked to National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg and Newsday's Timothy Phelps. Thomas wrote that the Hill portrayed in the media "bore little resemblance to the woman who had worked for me."

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