Is this a case of ObamaWorld coming to Uncle Joe’s rescue? Perhaps, but Janet Napolitano has another key connection to the Clarence Thomas hearings. The future Secretary of Homeland Security had at one time served as Anita Hill’s lawyer in the confirmation process. Now she’s defending Biden instead of Hill and arguing that it’s time to move on:
Joe Biden has done enough to apologize for the treatment of Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over 25 years ago, says one of Hill’s attorneys at that time.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was a Phoenix lawyer who was part of Hill’s legal team in 1991, when the University of Oklahoma law professor accused Thomas of having sexually harassed her while she worked under his supervision at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In an interview this week, Napolitano said of Biden, “I think he’s expressing regret for the way the hearing was conducted, and I think that in retrospect we all know that hearing should have been handled differently.” But Napolitano told CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on “The Takeout” podcast this week that she still does not understand why Biden did not call the other available witnesses supporting Hill to testify. However, she also thinks calling these witnesses would not have changed the outcome of the hearings.
That’s a curious position to take, given that her former client thinks Biden’s barely apologized at all. Hill noted that Biden’s outreach to her came with notable timing, as in precisely at the moment when he needed her absolution. Hill declined to provide it because she didn’t see Biden’s conversation as an apology, and besides that declared that he “needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public.”
Napolitano leaves that out of the conversation, as well as a few other things about the hearings, such as the FBI’s assessment that Hill’s allegations were “unfounded.” At least this brief snippet of conversation doesn’t address Biden’s own alleged #MeToo moments, either. Napolitano’s insistence that it’s time to move on pointedly does not include a similar assessment of Justice Thomas 27 years later. Of course, Thomas isn’t the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, either.
Why would Napolitano jump out in front of her former client like this? She had a ready-made excuse; Napolitano could have easily claimed that her relationship to Hill prevented her from commenting on the situation and focused on other aspects of Biden’s record instead. This looks like an intervention by the Democratic establishment — in which ObamaWorld has apparently eclipsed ClintonWorld — to protect the former VP and to keep too much damage from accruing in case Biden wins the nomination. Expect a lot more move on if Biden’s polling dominance continues.