Former Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly claimed he believed Anita Hill’s allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas, but behind the scenes he told Republicans she was lying about part of her testimony and told Thomas himself that he would defend him.
Thomas revealed that Biden spoke with him and his wife Virginia after Hill made allegations against Thomas privately to Senate staff.
Thomas detailed the phone conversation with Biden in his book My Grandfather’s Son:
He had decided to oppose me. He’d voted to confirm Justice Scalia, he explained, and now regretted it; he thought it was possible that I might turn out like Justice Scalia, so he couldn’t vote for me.
“That’s fine,” I said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m confirmed or not. But I entered this process with a good name, and I want to have it at the end.”
“Judge, I know you don’t believe me,” he replied, “but if any of these last two matters come up, I will be your biggest defender.” (The other matter to which he was referring was the leak of my draft opinion.)
He was right about one thing: I didn’t believe him.
Details of Hill’s allegations were leaked to the press and the rest is history, including Biden’s attempt to draw out Hill’s most graphic accusations publicly during the hearing.
Sen. Arlen Spector also detailed a conversation with Biden who believed that Anita Hill was lying about details surrounding her decision to publicly accuse Clarence Thomas.
The Federalist’s Molly Hemingway recalls Specter recounting the story of a crucial moment in Hill’s testimony:
Biden told me in November 1998, ‘It was clear to me from the way she was answering the questions, she was lying.’ ‘At that point I truncated the hearing and recessed it early for lunch,’ Biden said. ‘I turned to my chief of staff and said, ‘Go down and tell her lawyers that if her recollection is not refreshed by the time she gets back, I will be compelled to pursue the same line of questioning the Senator [Specter] did. Because it seems to me, she did what he said.’
Biden’s decades in the swamp, it appears, made him a master in political duplicity.