Anita Hill said Thursday that she would “of course” vote for Joe Biden if he were the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, despite her holding the former vice president accountable for her treatment during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings nearly three decades ago.
Biden’s entry into the 2020 race has reignited a debate over how Hill was treated during those hearings. Hill has said Biden called her to express his regrets earlier this year, but that the conversation was not satisfying.
Hill, in an interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell, said her criticisms of Biden do not mean she sees any moral equivalency between him and President Trump, who has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault — allegations the president has denied.
In 1991, Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her and was met with intense cross-examination by Republicans on the Senate panel. Biden, then the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, didn’t intervene and declined to call witnesses who Hill said would have confirmed her account.
“What I really want is our leaders to stand up and say, ‘What happened in 1991 will never happen again. What happened in 2018 will never happen again,’ ” she told Mitchell, referencing what some believe was similar mistreatment of Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations that Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.
Hill, who is a professor at Brandeis University, said she had been in contact with Ford.
Though Hill still holds Biden, then a senator from Delaware, responsible for how those hearings went, she said his handling of them isn’t “disqualifying.”
Rather, she’s waiting for him and the other 2020 Democratic candidates to speak up about the persistent issue of sexual harassment and violence.
“He’s perfectly capable of running for president,” she said. “I think we will have to make our decisions about what we want our leaders to be doing in the future around these issues of gender violence.”
Before Biden announced his candidacy for president, he spoke about the hearings, saying, “To this day, I regret I couldn’t get her the kind of hearing she deserved.”
Hill subsequently revealed that he had called her ahead of his White House bid to apologize for how she’d been treated, but she felt he failed to accept personal responsibility.
“I believe every chairman of any committee really is responsible for how a hearing is conducted,” she said.
Several days after Biden announced his campaign, he spoke again about Hill during an interview with ABC News’s Robin Roberts.
“She did not get a fair hearing. She did not get treated well,” he said. “That’s my responsibility.”