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Joe Biden says he regrets Anita Hill didn't get the "hearing she deserved"

Joe Biden addresses Anita Hill hearing

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he regrets Anita Hill didn't get "the kind of hearing she deserved" during Clarence Thomas' confirmation fight. Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 when Hill came forward accusing Thomas of sexually harassing her years earlier, and Biden had declared the FBI investigation inconclusive.

Speaking at the Biden Courage awards, Biden said Hill "paid a terrible price" when she testified before a "bunch of white guys."

"She was abused through the hearing," Biden said. "She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked. I wish I could've done something."

Biden said when Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she "faced a committee that didn't fully understand what the hell it was all about."

Reporter who covered Anita Hill testimony reacts to Thursday's hearings

"What should we have done differently? What can we do differently to make sure a woman who has been harassed and assaulted doesn't go through a second round of harassment or public rape again simply because they had the courage to step forward?" Biden said. "It's simply wrong. And we have to begin to look at things differently, in my humble opinion."

When Hill testified, Biden asked her to get into the specifics of some of Thomas' alleged comments, despite that she said it was "graphic."  "Well, I can tell you that he compared his penis size, he measured his penis in terms of length, those kinds of comments," Hill told the Committee.

Biden has been criticized for failing to stop attacks against Hill's reputation during the confirmation hearings. During Brett Kavanaugh's contentious confirmation hearing in September 2018, Republicans pushed his comments about the FBI investigation into the public eye. At that time, Biden issued a statement saying "despite every effort to distort my words and record, I insisted on and got an FBI investigation twenty-seven years ago."

"Nearly 30 years later, when I publicly apologized to Anita because she didn't  get the hearing she deserved and the Senate Judiciary Committee has the power and obligation to set a standard for the nation, it should not be one of the most difficult places for a woman to lay out a story of abuse and harassment," Biden said. "And yet, last fall, you saw it all over again with the Kavanaugh hearing. Almost 30 years, the culture, the institutional culture has not changed and that diminishes the likelihood that other women will come forward knowing what they're going to face."

Biden has not yet publicly declared if he is running for president, although many polls put him ahead of other Democratic contenders if he does decide to join the race.

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