Video: Hill tries to move past Thomas phone call

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    >> to 10 degrees below normal. that's what's going on around the country. here's what's happening in your neck of the woods.

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    >> al, thanks. now, the fall-out for the voice mail left by anita hill by the wife of justice thomas . she wants an apology for allegations made against her husband 19 years ago. with the story, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. surprising voice mail requesting an apology by anita hill opened a deep wound from her husband's confirmation hearing 19 years ago. anita hill did not want to revisit the feud with terrence thomas and his wife.

    >> i am on my way to teach my class and i don't want any comment and i'd like everybody to get out of the street because i don't want anybody to get hurt.

    >> reporter: now a tea party activist, guini ginni thomas left a voice mail . thomas says she meant it as an olive branch . hill and her allies call it inappropriate, saying she will not apologize because she told the truth.

    >> it dredges up, you know, 19 years of what's happened and it's really unfortunate that we have this bizarre behavior on the 19th anniversary of what was a tragic experience for professor hill.

    >> reporter: it was nearly two decades ago. a supreme court confirmation hearing that would forever change the way america views charges of sexual harassment .

    >> he would turn the conversation to discussion of sexual matters.

    >> it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.

    >> reporter: a searing experience for all involved, including virginia thomas as her husband wrote three years ago in his book, my grandfather's son.

    >> it hurt me to know they were being blared around the world and virginia shared that pain with me.

    >> reporter: since his confirmation, clarence thomas has been the least vocal of the justices. but his wife is outspoken and unusually partisan for a supreme court spouse. a high profile fund-raiser for the tea party movement and other conservative causes.

    >> washington is sick, it's corrupted. there's a bubble over it.

    >> reporter: her sharp criticism of president obama and refusal to disclose her donors have gotten attention. 11 days ago on the front page of the "new york times," that story appeared on the 19th anniversary of her husband's senate showdown with anita hill . that same morning, virginia thomas called hill's office.

    >> i don't know whether the story, you know, had anything to do with provoking her to call, but it's an interesting coincidence.

    >> reporter: the controversy interrupted the secluded life hill now leads at brandies university.

    >> as far as we're concerned, the matter is moved past that.

    >> before learning virginia thom plas was a caller and not a prankster, the university called in the fbi. now, the fbi says there is nothing to investigate because no crime was committed. so we are left with a story about the deeply personal and long lasting effect after public humiliation, years after.

    >> that's right. andrea mitchell , thank you so much for explaining it all to us this

Image: Clarence Thomas, Virginia Thomas
Jennifer K. Law  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, flanked by his wife Virginia, waits to reopen his testimony on Oct. 12, 1991. Virginia Thomas reopened the issue of Anita Hill's testimony at the confirmation hearings by leaving Hill a voicemail over the weekend asking for an apology.
NBC, and news services
updated 10/20/2010 5:34:47 PM ET 2010-10-20T21:34:47

Anita Hill said she has no reason to apologize for accusing then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her, in an issue that Thomas's wife has reopened 19 years after his confirmation hearings.

Virginia Thomas left a voicemail message on Hill's office phone over the weekend, asking her to say she is sorry for the allegations that surfaced at Thomas' confirmation hearings for a seat on the high court bench in 1991.

Hill, now a Brandeis University professor, called the message "inappropriate" and she has no reason to atone.

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"I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony," she said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

Where were you when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas in 1991?

Thomas wants a 'full explanation'
"I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband," the voicemail said in part, according to NBC News. "So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did."

Thomas said in a statement that her call was an attempt at "extending an olive branch" to Hill.

Reporters approached Hill at her home Wednesday morning, but she declined to say anything more, adding that she was on her way to campus. Brandeis spokesman Andrew Gully said in a statement Wednesday that Hill "is in class and will not have further comment."

He said Hill could not tell whether the call was a prank, which prompted her to turn it over to university police.

The department passed it to the FBI's Boston field office, Gully added. FBI Special Agent Jason Pack, a spokesman at bureau headquarters in Washington, declined to comment on the voicemail.

Video: Hill tries to move past Thomas phone call (on this page)

However, a senior FBI official told NBC News on Wednesday that there was no investigation because no crime was committed.

The Supreme Court, for its part, said there will be no comment from Justice Thomas on the controversy. A court spokesperson says Thomas was traveling.

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'No offense' intended
Virginia Thomas is a longtime conservative activist and founder of a new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, which opposes what she has characterized as the leftist "tyranny" of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

PhotoBlog: Faces of the Tea Party

She was a keynote speaker earlier this month in Richmond, Va., at a state convention billed as the largest Tea Party event ever.

"I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed [sic] what happened so long ago," Thomas said in a statement. "That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same.

"Certainly no offense was ever intended."

Hill had worked for Clarence Thomas in two federal government jobs before President George H.W. Bush named him as his pick for the Supreme Court.

During his Senate confirmation hearings, Thomas adamantly denied Hill's accusations that he made inappropriate sexual remarks, including references to pornographic movies.

Image: Anita Hill
AP file
Anita Hill testified at Clarence Thomas's 1991 confirmation hearings that the nominee sexually harrassed her.

Thomas said he did talk about X-rated movies while at Yale Law School, adding that so did many other young people in the 1970s.

Thomas speaks out
The allegations nearly derailed his nomination and sparked a national debate about sexual harassment on the job. Thomas called the nationally televised hearings a "high-tech lynching."

He broke a 16-year silence about the hearings in a 2007 book, "My Grandfather's Son," writing that Hill was a mediocre employee who was used by political opponents to make claims she had been sexually harassed.

The justice's wife first suggested Hill apologize in interviews the couple gave after the release of the book.

Hill had worked for Thomas at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She first made her allegations after Thomas had been nominated to the high court, 10 years after she began working for him and only after she was contacted by congressional investigators.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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