Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Anita Hill's Testimony, Part II

One of the major problems with Anita Hill's story -- one that was never satisfactorily explained on her part -- was that she called Thomas at least eleven times after she left for Oklahoma, and some of the calls seem to have been personal in nature.

Thomas's secretary kept careful phone logs of all the times when someone called but Thomas was unavailable. (There were other occasions on which Hill called Thomas and was put through, meaning there was no entry in the phone logs.) If you want to see the phone logs, download this file, and go to page 169 (WARNING: 1000-page PDF file). You can see that between 1984 and 1987, the phone logs show ten calls from Anita Hill to Clarence Thomas, with the last call being to congratulate Clarence Thomas on getting married.

Items to note:
  • Jan. 31, 1984: Anita Hill has the following message for Thomas: "Just called to say hello. Sorry she didn't get to see you last week." Does that sound like someone in fear of harassment?

  • May 8, 1984: Anita Hill leaves her phone number with the message, "Pls call."

  • Especially damning is the call from Jan. 3, 1985: Anita Hill left her phone number, her room number at her hotel, and the message: "Pls call tonight"! This doesn't seem to be a purely professional call. Why would she leave this message with a supposed harasser?

Under questioning from Specter, Anita Hill admitted that the phone logs were accurate. This led Specter to say in a closing statement:
The toll calls you characterized as garbage, which you admitted to in your interview with the newspaper, although you denied other aspects, you now concede to be true, that you did make those calls. It is one thing to say that you felt constrained to maintain some sort of an association with Judge Thomas in the face of this kind of conduct you have represented, but why make the calls which you agreed to, the "How are you doing," or "I'm in town," or tell his secretary you're in town? Why drive the man to the airport? Why maintain that kind of a cordial association in the face of this kind of conduct?
There was never a good answer to those questions.

One more interesting thing to point out from Specter's questioning of Hill:
You had picked out one of the calls in your statement, which appears on page eight, as follows. "In August of 1987, I was in Washington, and I did call Diane Holt. In the course of this conversation, she asked me how long I was going to be in town, and I told her." Now, the log says "Anita Hill, 547-4500, 4:00 o'clock. In town till 8:15." It's dated August the 4th. Now, if the log represents your making the statement in town till August 15th from August 4th, some might interpret that as a suggestion that he would be available to meet. Maybe, maybe not. but some might suggest that.

If, on the other hand, Judge Thomas' secretary asked you how long you were going to be in town, the initiative would come from her and would contain no possible suggestion of your availability to meet. My question to you is how do you know today that on August 4th, 1987, she asked you how long you were going to be in town, as opposed to your saying that you would in town until August 15th?

That is my recollection of how the telephone conversation took place.

And your representation is to this committee that you have a recollection at this moment that Judge Thomas's secretary asked you how long you were going to be in town, as opposed to your volunteering the statement to her? You have an active recollection of that?

That is my recollection.
Note that Hill doesn't claim that she's telling the truth here. Instead, she just says that it is her "recollection." This is classic lawyer-speak when a witness wants to be able to say something but with no liability if it turns out to be wrong. After all, even if something totally different actually happened, this could still be her recollection.

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