Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has spoken with Anita Hill, an aide to his campaign told CNN’s Brianna Keilar Thursday.
Biden oversaw then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, where Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her. Biden has faced criticism for years over his handling of Hill’s hearing as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman in 1991, when Hill faced intense and probing questioning about her accusations against Thomas from the panel of senators.
The episode has cast shadows over Biden’s long-expected 2020 bid that he formally announced Thursday morning.
When Keilar asked on “CNN Right Now” whether Biden had privately apologized to Hill, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield replied, “so I’m not going to get into their private discussions, but they have spoken.”
When pressed on details, Bedingfield declined to specify when they spoke and whether Biden has apologized, stressing that the conversation was “a private discussion.”
A spokesperson for Biden later said in a statement that Biden and Hill “had a private discussion where he shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.”
Hill has not immediately responded to a CNN request for comment. Hill told the Boston Globe in September that he had not apologized to her, adding that “he owes all of us an apology.”
Biden said in March that he regrets his actions during the hearings.
“To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us,” Biden said at an event in New York. He added that facing “hostile and insulting” questioning, Hill “paid a terrible price — she was abused through the hearing, she was taken advantage of, her reputation was attacked.”
Biden has also said previously that he owes Hill an apology.