Former Vice President Joe Biden says he regrets how Anita Hill was treated in the 1991 Clarance Thomas hearings, and warns that Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford shouldn't be "vilified" as Hill was

By Tierney McAfee
September 21, 2018 11:40 AM

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he regrets how Anita Hill was treated in the 1991 Clarance Thomas hearings, and warns that Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford shouldn’t be “vilified” as Hill was.

Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 confirmation hearing of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, was criticized at the time for not stopping the vicious attacks on Hill when she testified that Thomas had allegedly sexually harassed her.

“What happened was she got victimized again during the process,” Biden, 75, told NBC’s Today show in a live interview on Friday.

Biden defended his handling of the hearings, saying Senate rules prohibited him from blunting questions by other committee members.

“I wish I could’ve done more to prevent those questions, the way they asked them,” he said, adding that Hill was unjustly “vilified” by his colleagues.

Now, 27 years later, Biden said he hopes his Senate colleagues have learned from the Thomas hearings, and will treat Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, “with dignity.”

“What should happen is the woman should be given the benefit of the doubt and not be, you know, abused again by the system,” Biden said. “It’s important that people understand how hard it is to come forward. I always say to men who say, ‘Why so hard?’ — how ’bout if you were abused? … Would you want to relive that?

“So much has changed about how the public understands the pressure on women,” he continued. “[Ford] should not have to go through what Anita Hill went through and the way the right went out with her on national television and questioned her integrity and not just her honesty, but questioned her behavior. That’s just not appropriate. You shouldn’t have to be twice put through the same exact thing. It took her a lot of courage for her to come forward.“

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Biden also called on the FBI to investigate Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh and noted, “We did that for Anita Hill.”

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both in high school. He has denied the allegations. Kavanaugh is expected to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, but Ford’s lawyers said Friday that she will not testify that day.

An email her lawyers sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee said Ford “would be prepared to testify” another day next week, if she was offered “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” CNN reported.

Biden said that the Kavanaugh vote should be delayed until Ford testifies.

The former vice president, who appeared on the Today show with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, was also asked about potentially running for president in 2020.

He declined to reveal his plans but said, “I desperately want to change the landscape, and there’s more than one way to do that … you got a lot of talented people, but we got to stop this degradation of the system that’s going on.”

His wife responded, “I think Joe, you would make a  great president, but let’s think about it.”

If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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