Joe Biden on Anita Hill's 1991 Supreme Court Testimony: "I Don't Think I Treated Her Badly"

THE VIEW - Joe Biden appears on ABC's The View today, April 26, 2019- Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Walt Disney Television/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

During his first sit-down TV interview after announcing his 2020 presidential campaign, the former vice president was pressed by the women of 'The View' about his behavior during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, his apologies to Anita Hill and accusations that he inappropriately touched several women.

As part of what The View co-host Joy Behar called the "Viewpology tour," former Vice President Joe Biden appeared on the ABC talk show Friday morning in his first sit-down TV interview since announcing his presidential bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination. There he fielded questions from the all-women panel over his response to the Anita Hill controversy and allegations that he had inappropriately touched several women over the years. 

During the interview, the former Delaware senator revealed why Hill was the only woman granted the chance to testify during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 confirmation hearing, while stopping just short of delivering an unprompted direct apology to her before drawing a line between allegations of his "inappropriate touching" and behavior that "approached" something more.

The Behar-led line of questioning kicked off by acknowledging how the former vice president voted against Thomas' confirmation, with Biden stating that "not only did I not vote for Thomas, I believed [Anita Hill] from the beginning."

Behar then immediately pivoted to Hill's response to her recent meeting with Biden where the two sat down to talk face-to-face. Describing Hill as reportedly being "not 100 percent happy" with their discussion, Behar offered Biden a chance to "clean this up" and "just say you apologize, you're sorry."

"I'm not gonna judge whether or not it was appropriate — if she thought it was sufficient," Biden responded, when Behar described Hill's negative response to their meeting. "But I said privately what I've said publicly. I'm sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I wish we could've figured out a better way to get this thing done."

"The Supreme Court hearing is not a trial, it's a job interview," he continued in an attempt to encapsulate the nature of confirmation hearings. "You don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt anything as to why you shouldn't put so and so on the court."

The View panelists continued to press Biden on the issue, with Behar at one point stating that "You know, I think what she wants you to say is, 'I'm sorry for the way I treated you,' not 'for the way you were treated.' I think that would be a little closer."

In response, Biden repeated Behar word-for-word, before describing his treatment of Hill as not that bad.

"I'm sorry for the way she got treated. If you go back and look what I said and didn't say, I don't think I treated her badly," Biden said.

During the hourlong appearance, Biden also took a moment to discuss why Hill was the only woman to testify during Thomas' hearing.

"The truth is the key witness that wanted to testify decided she didn't want to testify," Biden told The View co-hosts and audience.

The Democratic presidential candidate then went on to say that he passed on pressuring or forcing her "to make it clear that I believed Anita — excuse me, Dr. Hill," Biden said.

His response to the Hill line of questioning mirrored some of his responses to questions about the allegations made by several women who've claimed Biden touched them inappropriately. Biden stated that he had to learn "to read better," alluding to his ability to recognize and respect boundaries, but that he had never done anything to approach a woman that went beyond disrespecting spatial boundaries.

"Here's the deal. I have to be, and everybody has to be, much more aware of the private space of men and women. It's not just women but primarily women. And I am much more cognizant of that," Biden said.