Jill Biden thinks it’s time for the country to “move on” from her husband’s much-criticized handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during the jurist’s 1991 Senate confirmation hearing.
The official launch by her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, of his 2020 presidential candidacy has again spotlighted his role in undercutting Hill’s credibility. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Thomas’ hearing, the Delaware Democrat infamously did not allow testimony from several other women who said they could have corroborated Hill’s claims. Biden also failed to shield Hill from Republican attacks on her character.
“I watched the hearings like most other Americans, and... we believed Anita Hill,” Biden told NPR. She noted that her husband recently called Hill, “they’ve talked, they’ve spoken, and he said, you know, he feels badly. He apologized for the way the hearings were run. And so now it’s kind of — it’s time to move on.”
Asked why her husband waited until announcing his presidential run to call Hill, Biden said, “It was just not the right time.”
“I think he didn’t know whether she would take his call, and he was so happy that she did take his call, and they spoke,” she said. “I think they came to an agreement.”
Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, said after the call that she was dissatisfied with the former vice president’s apology.
She said she could be satisfied by Biden “simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Hill told The New York Times. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
On April 26, a day after announcing his presidential campaign, Biden ― as had been his policy ― again failed to directly acknowledge his role in undermining Hill. He said on “The View” TV show he was sorry Hill “was treated the way she was treated.”
“I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done,” he said. “I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules,” he said.
Several days later and after much push back, Biden finally took personal responsibility for Hill’s mistreatment.
“I was chairman of the committee. 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 said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that.”