Joe Biden's handling of the Anita Hill case as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas nomination has received increased scrutiny amid new allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
But the former vice president is highlighting what he sees as progress since that 1991 battle.
Speaking to reporters after an event Monday, Biden said that his committee had "over 1,000 hours of hearings" on the issue of sexual assault after Thomas's controversial nomination advanced despite Hill's testimony that he had harassed her. That process helped inform his thinking about how to address the issue and could be relevant to Kavanaugh now.
"The impact of an assault, however you define assault, has—like everything else in life—different impacts on different women and men," Biden told reporters at the Irish Embassy in Washington, according to footage from the Irish broadcaster RTE.
It's a similar explanation to one Biden offered earlier this year in an interview on the "Pod Save America" podcast.
"The thing that we should be recognizing about Anita Hill was she was the first woman to stand up before the nation, knowing she was going to be vilified, and raise the issue of harassment," he said on the podcast. "When that hearing was all over I said that I think this is the one thing that was done here, is that we have sensitized the entire nation to the issue of harassment. She did. And that's when – that helped me significantly in getting the Violence Against Women Act passed."
Biden said Monday that he did not know enough about the specific accusations against Kavanaugh from Christine Blasey Ford.
But he told the Washington Post at the embassy event that the discussion "brings back all of the complicated issues that were there" in the Hill case. And he defended Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee now, for having withheld Ford's accusations—which she had previously said she hoped would remain anonymous—until this late stage.
"Dianne's getting beat up now for why didn't she go forward," Biden said. "The one thing that's not said is, of all the progress we've made in the country, #Metoo, you still have the fundamental question of, what is the individual's right to come forward or not to come forward?"