The former vice president appeared at Glamour’s Women of the Year summit in New York with his wife, Jill Biden. After the discussion, BuzzFeed’s lifestyle editor, Rachel Miller, stood up with a question for him.
“In the context of changing the culture and women being brave enough to come forward, I’m wondering if there’s anything that you would do differently with regards to Anita Hill, if given the opportunity?” Miller asked.
Biden, who long has been an outspoken advocate for women, has been criticized for how he handled Hill when she testified against Thomas to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. Many people believe Biden didn’t do enough to stand by Hill or shield her from attacks when she accused Thomas of sexual harassment.
“Let’s get something straight here, I believed Anita Hill. I voted against Clarence Thomas,” he responded to Miller. “The only issue in the Anita Hill case was whether or not there could be information submitted in a record without a name attached to it, anonymously accusing someone of something,” he said, referring to criticisms that he didn’t encourage more women to testify against Thomas.
Biden added that he is “confident” that Thomas sexually harassed Hill.
“Anita Hill was victimized. There is no question in my mind and every single solitary person on that committee who believed her voted ‘no’” on Thomas’ confirmation, he said.
The committee reported Thomas’ nomination to the Senate floor without a recommendation, and he was narrowly confirmed on a 52-48 vote.
“What I do feel badly about is the bad taste that got left in the mouth of some of the people around Anita Hill, and maybe even Anita, about whether or not the witnesses should have been called who were called and weren’t called, etc,” Biden said Monday.
Glamour’s editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive, who was moderating the discussion, added a follow-up question: “Professor Hill has said herself that she expected a fair process and did not feel that she had one. Given your leadership on these kinds of issues, do you have any message to her now?”
Said Biden: “The message I’ve delivered before is I am so sorry if she believes that,” he said “I am so sorry that she had to go through what she went through. Think of the courage that it took for her to come forward.”