Anita Hill urged senators Wednesday to “push the pause button” on plans to hold a hearing next week on allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault decades ago. She said the FBI should be allowed to investigate, as his accuser has requested.

Hill, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 that now-Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, said senators should avoid a “sham” proceeding.

“The American public really is expecting something more,” Hill said during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously.”

Hill’s comments came a day after lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies at a Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Monday.

Hill, a law professor at Brandeis University, criticized what she characterized as an unnecessary rush by Republican leaders.

“Either they don’t take this seriously,” she said, “or ... they just want to get it over.”

“I’m not sure which is in play,” Hill said. “Maybe they’re not concerned, or maybe they don’t know how to handle this kind of situation.”


Then-University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in 1991. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)

In a statement late Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) disputed the idea that the FBI needs to investigate before Ford testifies at the committee hearing. “The invitation for Monday still stands,” he said.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Ford has alleged that while she and Kavanaugh were at a house party in the early 1980s, when the two were in high school, Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed, groped her and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams as he attempted to take her clothes off.