Biden: ‘I take responsibility’ for treatment of Anita Hill during Thomas hearings
As his campaign moves forward and gains momentum, the former vice president admitted accountability for the the 1991 hearings, which placed scrutiny on the law professor
Since speculation surfaced about former vice president Joe Biden running for president, the 1991 confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been haunting him as the treatment of Anita Hill in those hearings was placed under intense scrutiny.
But during an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America which aired Tuesday, Biden, appearing with his wife Jill, discussed the hearings and confessed that he believed Hill very early on and takes responsibility for her not getting a fair hearing.
“I believed her from the very beginning, but I was chairman. She did not get a fair hearing. She did not get treated well. That’s my responsibility,” Biden told GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts. “As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that.”
The hearings, which were handled by the Senate Judiciary Committee that he headed from 1987 to 1995, were a pivotal moment in Biden’s career. At the time, Hill, who was a law professor and had worked with Thomas, accused him of sexually harassing her and was relentlessly bombarded with invasive questions about her interactions with Thomas by an all white and all male committee.
Biden, who would vote against Thomas, finally issued an apology to Hill.
“I apologized for it,” Biden said. “I apologize again because, look, here’s the deal. She just did not get treated fair across the board. The system did not work.”
This apology was a complete turn around from previous comments he made about his treatment of Hill. Prior to his Monday interview, Biden told The View on Friday that he did not believe he had done anything wrong during the hearings.
“If you go back and look what I said and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly. I took on her opposition,” he said.
ABC News reported that Biden went on to say that he talked with Hill privately about her treatment and told her that he admired her for “everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.”
Hill on the other hand did not seem to be swayed by his apology. In an interview with the New York Times on Thursday. Hill said, “I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you.”
Last week, Biden announced his third bid for presidency and following his interview with GMA on Monday, he attended his first event as a 2020 candidate at a union hall in Pittsburgh.