Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that he takes responsibility for the fact that Anita Hill was “not treated well” in 1991 when she accused then-Supreme Court-nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and Biden led the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I believed her from the very beginning. But I was chairman. She did not get a fair hearing. She did not get treated well. That’s my responsibility,” Biden said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. “I apologize. I apologize again,” he added, “She just did not get treated well across the board. The system did not work.”
The ABC interview was posted online just as Biden’s campaign held its first public rally since the 76-year-old announced his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination last week. The Hill-Thomas hearings have dogged the early days of Biden’s bid.
Biden drew widespread criticism last week for an appearance on ABC’s “The View” during which he pointedly declined to apologize for anything he personally did to Hill, saying he treated her well and regretted that other senators did not.
Separately Monday, an interview with Biden aired in which he declared that the #MeToo movement has been a “powerful tribute to truth telling,” but that violence and sexual harassment against women remains a longstanding “cultural problem” that he wants to help eradicate.
Biden spoke to actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano on her new podcast, “Sorry Not Sorry.” That interview was taped before several women publicly described instances in which they say Biden made them uncomfortable with unwanted touching.
None of the women has alleged violent or sexual contact, but the timing of Biden’s appearance on Milano’s inaugural episode underscores the challenges he faces running in the #MeToo era.
He rejected any notion that the movement can go too far. “When I hear that the pendulum has swung too far, I think how absurd that is,” he said. “This kind of backlash occurs when you start to make real progress. We have hundreds of years to make up for. We have to change the culture of the United States, and this is our moment.”
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