Biden Urges Senators Not to Treat Kavanaugh Accuser Like Anita Hill

Biden was criticized as chairman of Judiciary panel after senators grilled Hill in 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday he regretted that Anita Hill was “villified” in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chaired at the time and wished he had done more to prevent that . (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged his former colleagues in the Senate to treat Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser better than they treated Anita Hill in 1991 as she testified about how then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when they worked together.

“Anita Hill was vilified,” Biden told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday. “I wish I could have done more to prevent that.”

Christine Blasey Ford, now a California psychology professor, said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her during a 1982 party when they were high school students.

Through her lawyers, she has agreed to testify about her experience before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, but sometime after Monday, the date proposed by Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa earlier this week.

“She should not have to through the things Anita Hill went through,” Biden said Friday.

Ford “should be treated with respect,” he said, and “should be given the benefit of the doubt and not be, you know, abused again by the system.”

Biden’s national political standing has rested on a shaky foundation ever since his handling of the Hill hearings in 1991 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Some Democrats have railed against the former Delaware senator for allowing his Republican (and Democratic) colleagues to grill Hill on the witness stand without his objection and not impaneling three other women who would have testified in support of her.

At one point, for instance, Alabama Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin asked Hill if she was a “zealot civil rights believer” and had a “militant attitude” about civil rights.

McConnell to Family Research Council: 'We're Changing America':

Other senators questioned Hill for not going public with her accusation earlier in the confirmation process.

Hill told Elle in an interview published Tuesday that Biden has said he owes her an apology, but that he has never actually privately reached out to her to offer one.

“‘He said, ‘I owe her an apology.’ People were asking, ‘When are you going to apologize to her?’”’ Hill said of Biden. “It’s become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we’re not expecting company. ‘Oh,’ we say, ‘is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?’”

Grassley’s Judiciary panel has been working with Ford’s lawyers on scheduling a hearing for both Ford and Kavanaugh to state their cases. Ford’s camp wants that session held next Thursday, Sept. 27, at the earliest as negotiations continue about the date and format.

Watch: Hirono on Kavanaugh Accusation: Men Need to ‘Shut Up and Step Up’

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.