Law & the Courts

Flashback: Biden Says in Clarence Thomas Hearing That FBI Investigations Are Not Conclusive

Vice President Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in 2016. (Ruben Sprich/Reuters)

Joe Biden has called for the FBI to look into the accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, but back in 1991 he sang a different tune to the Judiciary Committee as it grappled with Anita Hill’s allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas.

“The next person that refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesn’t understand anything,” Biden, then the Democratic chairman of the committee, said at the time. “FBI explicitly does not in this or any other case reach a conclusion. Period.”

The acrimonious confirmation process of Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, triggered memories of the Thomas hearings after two women came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify on Thursday regarding her allegation that a drunk Kavanaugh tried to rape her at an alcohol-infused party when they were both minors in high school in the early 1980s. Republican members of Congress have said they are also willing to hear from Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanuagh exposed himself to her when she was intoxicated at a dorm party during their freshman year at Yale University.

Democrats are calling for the FBI to reopen background checks on Kavanaugh in light of the new allegations against him. The bureau has declined, saying that the accusations do not point to any threat to national security.

“The reason why we cannot rely on the FBI report, you wouldn’t like it if we did, because it is inconclusive,” Biden said during the Thomas hearings. “They say he said, she said, and they said. Period. So when people wave an FBI report before you, understand, they do not … reach conclusions. They do not make … recommendations.”

“I said from the beginning, this is about whether or not sexual harassment occurred,” the Democrat from Delaware said. “And lastly, Judge, with me, from the beginning and at this moment, until the end, the presumption is with you. Now we are going to hear more witnesses. They are going to come in and corroborate your position and hers. And we will find out whether they are telling the truth or not, as best as we are capable of doing, just like you as a judge are when you look them in the eye and make a judgment.”

“Judge, this is less directed at you than it is to my pontificating colleagues, Democrat and Republican alike, so, Judge, I have not made my judgment, based upon this proceeding, because we have not heard all the evidence,” Biden stated.

Now, Biden says that he “believed her from the beginning,” referring to Hill.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you,” Biden said on Friday. “But I never attacked her, I supported her. I believed her from the beginning.”

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