In an interview with the Today show on Friday, former vice-president Joe Biden said he agrees that the FBI should investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and that he hopes, when and if she testifies in front of the Senate, she will be “treated with dignity.”
Biden’s comments come nearly 30 years after he, as then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, presided over Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, and Anita Hill’s testimony about the judge’s history of sexual harassment. He has faced heavy criticism for the way he handled the hearings: He didn’t do enough to protect Hill from pointed attacks, his detractors say, and he also failed to call forth witnesses who could back up her testimony.
In the interview on Friday, Biden expressed regret over how Hill was treated in 1991, and said he hopes his Senate colleagues learned from the Thomas hearings.
“I think they should do an FBI investigation. We did that for Anita Hill,” he said. “Most importantly, Anita Hill was vilified when she came forward by a lot of my colleagues, character assassination. I wish I could’ve done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them.”
“I hope my colleagues learned from that,” he went on. “She deserves to be treated with dignity. 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, assert that something happened to her. And she should be treated with respect.”
In an interview with Elle last year, Biden acknowledged that he owed Hill an apology; he has yet to officially offer her one. “It’s become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we’re not expecting company,” she told the same outlet this year. “‘Oh,’ we say, ‘is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?’”
Ford has said she is willing to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee about her experience with Kavanaugh, but only on “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” Chairman Chuck Grassley gave Ford until 10 a.m. on Friday to decide whether or not she will speak to the committee when hearings resume on Monday.