- Former Vice President Joe Biden said on the “Today” show Friday that he thinks the FBI should investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s claims against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
- If she agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden said Blasey “deserves to be treated with dignity.”
- He also issued an apology to Anita Hill, who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings in 1991, which Biden presided over and was widely criticised for.
Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, while reflecting on one of the lowest points of his political career – the testimony of Anita Hill.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been brought to a halt by allegations that he attempted to rape psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford when they were both in high school in the 1980s.
Ford’s allegations have drawn parallels to Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination in 1991, when his former subordinate, Anita Hill, accused him of sexual harassment.
Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time and widely criticised for not shielding Hill from the all-male committee members’ questions, which were largely considered sexist. He also didn’t take advantage of the multiple witnesses who agreed to speak before the committee in support of Hill.
It looks as though Ford will follow in Hill’s footsteps and tell her story to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has also asked that the FBI investigate her claims.
‘She deserves to be treated with dignity’
In an interview on the “Today” show Friday morning, Biden supported the idea of an FBI investigation, saying they had one done in Hill’s case and it only took two days. If there’s no investigation, he says Kavanaugh’s nomination should not come to a vote.
If Ford does agree to testify, Biden said he hopes it will be different this time.
“Anita Hill was vilified when she came forward by a lot of my colleagues, character assassination,” he said. “I wish I could have done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them. I hope my colleagues learned from that. She deserves to be treated with dignity.
Biden added: “It takes enormous courage for a woman to come forward under the bright lights of millions of people watching and relive something that happened to her … and she should be treated with respect.”
An apology to Anita Hill
Biden said his biggest regret when it came to Hill’s testimony is that he didn’t know how to protect her from the other senators on the panel who attacked her character.
“Under the Senate rules, I can’t gavel you down and say you can’t ask that question, although I tried. So what happened was, she got victimized again during the process,” he said.
When asked what he would say to Hill, if she were watching, Biden said he would apologise.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stopped the kind of attacks that came to you,” Biden said. “I never attacked her. I supported her. I believed her from the beginning and I voted against Clarence Thomas.”
While he thinks that Kavanaugh should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, he also believes that women “should be given the benefit of the doubt.”
“I hope they understand what courage it takes for someone to come forward and relive what they believe happened to them, and let them state it,” Biden said. “Treat her with respect, ask tough questions, ask substantive questions … but don’t go after the character assassination.”
Things have changed
When NBC’s Craig Melvin pointed out that it seemed like Biden “gets it now,” Biden said he thinks he understood what Hill was going through 27 years ago as well, but “people have their own opinion.”
He pointed to his writing the Violence Against Women Act as evidence of this, as well as his push to get women on the Senate Judiciary Commit ee after Thomas’ confirmation.
But Biden said it does seem that people are more sensitive to the plight of female sexual harassment and assault victims today.
“So much has changed since I wrote the Violence Against Women Act,” he said. “So much has changed about how the public understands the pressure on women. And I’ve learned a lot, as well, too.”
Biden’s name consistently lands on Democratic prospects to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020, and the former vice president hasn’t yet ruled out running.
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