Decorum Is a Victim as Tempers Boil Over

By John E. Yang and Dan Balz
By John E. Yang and Dan Balz
Tuesday, August 13, 1991

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) was questioning Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas after the midafternoon break when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) erupted.

"Senator, you're reading from the FBI report?" Biden asked.

"That's right," Hatch calmly responded.

Biden, jaw set and teeth clenched, accused Hatch of reneging on a committee agreement not to use the report in public.

Hatch said he was in the men's room when that agreement was reached. "I didn't agree to that," he said.

Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C.), the ranking Republican on the committee, observed that the same information was available in the newspapers. "Just take the newspapers, Senator Hatch, and go ahead."

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© 1991 The Washington Post Company