Fawn Hall, who helped shred Iran-Contra documents as Oliver L. North’s secretary, burst into tears on the witness stand twice today, first as the judge told her to shut up and again as she praised her ex-boss.
“He was an excellent person to work for,” Hall testified in a quavering voice under defense questioning at North’s trial. “He was never lazy or self-serving.”
Asked by North’s attorney Brendan Sullivan to describe her friendship with the North family, she began: “I met (North’s wife) Betsy and his four kids in Easter of 1983.” Then she began to weep and Sullivan asked for a brief recess.
It was the second time in the day that Hall halted court proceedings with tears and it marked one of the rare instances in which the dry criminal trial replayed some of the dramatic pro-North emotion that swirled around Congress’ televised Iran-Contra hearings two years ago.
Hall, a glamorous blonde who became one of the media stars of the original scandal investigation, was called as a prosecution witness to buttress charges that North had run a cover-up of efforts to sell arms to Iran and divert profits to Nicaragua’s Contra rebels.
Wearing a demure blue-and-white polka-dot dress and pearls, Hall was clearly torn by her continued devotion to North, whom she had extolled in her 1987 testimony to Congress as a national hero and “every secretary’s dream boss.”
“I hope the good guy will win,” Hall told reporters outside court after her testimony at North’s trial. “It’s tough to be portrayed as a witness for the prosecution when you’re really a witness for the truth.”
Earlier in the day, Hall also shed tears as she tried to interject comments into a discussion between prosecutor John W. Keker and Judge Gerhard A. Gesell about an incident in which she and North had shredded classified Iran-Contra documents as the scandal was becoming public knowledge.
“Please keep your mouth shut while I’m talking,” Gesell barked.
Soon after that, the tearful Hall asked for a break, barely 15 minutes into today’s proceedings.