Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings for being “white” and failing to understand the accusations of abuse brought by Anita Hill at the time.
Biden said that Hill paid a “terrible price” for coming forward and testifying against Thomas during his confirmation hearings.
“I also realized there was a real and perceived problem the committee faced. They were a bunch of white guys. No, I mean it sincerely. A bunch of white guys hearing this testimony on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he said. “So when Anita Hill came to testify she faced a committee that didn’t fully understand what the hell it was all about.”
Biden spoke about Hill on Tuesday night at the Biden Courage Awards in New York City, as he focused on the scourge of sexual abuse and harassment.
“To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage that she showed by reaching out to us,” he said.
He also blamed the historical timing of the accusations.
“We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then, over 30 years ago, but she paid a terrible price, she was abused through the hearing, she was taken advantage of,” he said.
In the ’90s, Biden faced criticism from the left for his infamous handling of the Anita Hill hearings, allowing his Senate colleagues to cross-examine her with embarrassing questions and failing to allow three other women accusers to testify.
Hill was upset with how Biden handled her hearing, but Biden told the audience on Tuesday that he had “publicly apologized to Anita,” likely referring to an interview he did with NBC.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you,” Biden said in an interview on the Today show in September 2018.
During his speech Tuesday, Biden accused Senate Republicans of failing Christine Blasey Ford during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, despite Republicans ceding the questioning to Rachel Mitchell, a professional sexual assault prosecutor.
“Last Fall you saw it all over again with the Kavanaugh hearing,” Biden said. “Almost 30 years – the culture, the institutional culture has not changed. And that diminishes the likelihood that other women will come forward knowing what they’re going to face.”