Joe Biden is reportedly furious that people quoted him 'out of context' in the Kavanaugh hearings

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Chicago in November 2017.
  • Republicans arguing against an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh quoted former Vice President Joe Biden at the committee hearings.
  • Biden appeared to argue against an FBI investigation when he was head of the committee in 1991 and Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual assault.
  • The New York Times reports that Biden is furious and his spokesperson said that Biden was taken out of context.
  • Biden has publicly supported Kavanaugh’s accuser and said in September that he had done more to protect Hill.
  • His handling of Anita Hill’s allegations may be significant if Biden runs for president in 2020.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly furious that Republicans arguing against an FBI investigation into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been using comments that he made during the Anita Hill hearings in the 1990s.

Biden served as Senate Judiciary Chairman when Anita Hill testified in 1991 that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually assaulted her. Republicans senators now on the committee quoted Biden last week when Christine Blasey Ford testified against Kavanaugh and Democrats called for an FBI investigation into her allegations.

Current committee chairman Chuck Grassley said: “Senate Democrats hope for the FBI to draw any conclusions on this matter, I’m going to remind you what Joe Biden said.”

“Joe Biden, quote: ‘The next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesn’t understand anything. The FBI explicitly does not – does not, in this or any other case, reach a conclusion. Period,'” Grassley cites Biden as saying.

Christine Blasey Ford Kavanaugh hearingTom Williams-Pool/Getty ImagesChristine Blasey Ford testified against Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans had argued against an FBI investigation.

Biden’s spokesman told the New York Times that he was taken out of context. Instead, he said Biden had been rejecting an argument from a Republican, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said the FBI had effectively exonerated Thomas.

Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite Hill’s allegations.

Biden has released multiple statements in support of Ford. On the “Today” show in September he said “she should be treated with respect.”

He also apologised for the way he handled Hill’s testimony.

“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.”

Multiple people who have spoken directly to Biden told the New York Times that he also complained that Democrats judged his role in the hearing without recognising the limits of his power as committee chairman and the nature of politics at that time.

Biden is a potential candidate for the 2020 presidential elections, and those close to him think his handling of the Hill-Thomas hearings may need to be addressed for his bid to be successful.

Former Senator Barbara Boxer of California told the New York Times: “If he handles it right, it could be a plus; if he handles it wrong, it will be a minus.

“And handling it right means stepping up to the plate.”

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