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FOCUS: Biden Denies He Sexually Assaulted Former Senate Aide
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=54193"><span class="small">Sean Sullivan and Matt Viser, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Friday, 01 May 2020 10:50

Excerpt: "Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday denied that he sexually assaulted a former Senate aide, addressing the allegation publicly for the first time under increasing pressure from his party to speak about it."

Former vice president Joe Biden. (photo: Reuters)
Former vice president Joe Biden. (photo: Reuters)

Biden Denies He Sexually Assaulted Former Senate Aide

By Sean Sullivan and Matt Viser, The Washington Post

01 May 20


resumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday denied that he sexually assaulted a former Senate aide, addressing the allegation publicly for the first time under increasing pressure from his party to speak about it.

“I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago,” Biden said in a statement released by his campaign. “They aren’t true. This never happened.”

Biden echoed his denial on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after the statement was released. “No, it is not true,” he said. “It never, never happened.”

Biden also called on the National Archives to release any record of a complaint that the former aide, Tara Reade, says she filed. “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” he said.

Reade has said that she filed a complaint with a congressional human resources or personnel office but did not remember the exact name. Her complaint dealt only with the alleged harassment, not the assault, she said.

The Post could find no record of the complaint, and Reade said she didn’t have a copy.

In his MSNBC interview, Biden, who appeared from his makeshift home television studio in Delaware, faced questions from host Mika Brzezinski.

The former vice president said he had not reached out to Reade. “When she first made the claim, we made it clear it never happened,” he said. He also said that he had not seen any complaint filed by her, nor was he aware of anyone who had. “I’ve never seen it,” he said.

Biden declined to comment on Reade’s motivations for her claims.

“I’m not going to question her motive,” Biden said of Reade, adding, “I don’t understand it.”

The presumptive nominee said he has never asked anyone to sign a nondisclosure agreement. And Biden said that “women have a right to be heard,” but that “in the end in every case, the truth is what matters.”

In a tense exchange late in the interview, Biden repeatedly resisted the idea of querying his Senate papers at the University of Delaware, saying they do not contain personnel records.

“Why not just do a search for Tara Reade’s name?” Brzezinski asked.

“Who does that search?” Biden replied. Brzezinski suggested the university or a commission could conduct it. Biden then returned to his initial point — that any complaint would be contained in the archives, not his papers.

He said that the papers contained “confidential conversations” with the president and heads of state and that he did not want them to be made public while he was still actively pursuing public office.

Asked what he would say to Reade directly if he could talk to her, Biden responded: “This never ever happened. I don’t know what is motivating her.”

In his earlier statement, Biden attempted to show solidarity with the #MeToo movement even as he firmly repudiated the accusations from Reade, who claims he reached under her skirt and penetrated her 27 years ago.

“While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated,” he said in his statement. “One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”

Biden also attacked President Trump, saying, “We have lived long enough with a President who doesn’t think he is accountable to anyone, and takes responsibility for nothing. That’s not me. I believe being accountable means having the difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable. People need to hear the truth.”

Biden’s campaign had previously denied the allegations by Reade, who worked in Biden’s Senate office for nine months ending in 1993. But for weeks, the former vice president had been silent about her accusation. This week, demands from within his party to address it grew louder, and with each public appearance came scrutiny that began to eclipse the ideas and themes he was trying to promote.

Democratic and Republican leaders also came under intensifying calls to weigh in, triggering an explosive and often partisan debate. For many Democrats, the allegation was an uncomfortable topic that forced them to try to reconcile their support for Biden with advocacy for many women who come forward with claims of sexual assault against powerful men. For some top Republicans, it was occasion to accuse Democrats of a double standard.

Trump, Biden’s expected general election opponent, said Thursday that Biden “should respond” to the accusation, which Trump said he “didn’t know anything about.” The president suggested that Reade’s account could be a “false accusation,” a topic he said he knew well. More than 20 women have accused the president of sexual misconduct over the years, prompting a series of denials.

Trump said Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was “falsely charged” during his nomination hearings of sexually assaulting a woman when they were both teenagers in high school and said that what Kavanaugh endured was a “disgrace to the country.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has accused Democrats of abandoning the criticism and skepticism they applied to Kavanaugh when it comes to Biden.

“I think what most Americans would like is sort of a symmetrical evaluation of these allegations rather than what we have seen at least so far,” McConnell said on Fox News Radio this week.

Some Democrats have reached a similar conclusion and have expressed frustration that their party leaders have not been more vocal. Many top Democrats have been reluctant to weigh in publicly at length but have defended Biden when asked about the accusations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she has “a great comfort level” with how Biden had addressed the allegation — although at that point he had not spoken about it — and called him “a person of great integrity.” Other Democrats have demanded more details from Biden.

Biden has declined a request for an interview with The Washington Post. His campaign has repeatedly said that Reade’s claims are not true.

Reade’s accusation that Biden reached under her skirt and penetrated her in 1993 was the first allegation of sexual assault made against him. In 2019, several women said Biden had been overly affectionate in a way that made them uncomfortable in previous interactions.

Reade said last year in interviews with The Post and with other news outlets that Biden had put his hands on her shoulders and neck when she was working in his Senate office. She said that she had complained about it to senior aides in the office, but those aides told The Post that they had no recollection of Reade’s claim.

Last month, in a podcast interview, she alleged that the then-senator had assaulted her after pushing her against a wall somewhere on Capitol Hill.

The Post published a detailed examination of her account two weeks ago in which one of her friends confirmed that Reade had told her of an incident shortly after she said it had occurred. Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, also told The Post that she had told him in 1993 that Biden had touched her neck and shoulders. Several days after the interview, he said in a text message to The Post that he recalled her telling him that Biden had put his hand “under her clothes.”

In an interview published by Business Insider on Monday, Lynda LaCasse, a former acquaintance of Reade, said Reade had told her of an alleged assault in the mid-1990s, when they lived in the same California housing complex. LaCasse on Wednesday confirmed those details to The Post.

“She told me that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her,” she wrote in a text message. “She said that he had put her up against a wall, put his hand up her skirt and his fingers inside her.”

She added that she is “a very strong Democrat” and was supporting Biden for president.

“I believed Tara at the time she told me that Mr. Biden assaulted her, and I continue to support her now,” she wrote. “I feel that the truth needs to be told.”

Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in California after her tenure in Washington, told Business Insider that Reade had told her she “had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.” But Reade herself has given various reasons for her departure.

The corroboration from the women came several days after a 1993 call to Larry King’s CNN talk show surfaced.

In the clip, a woman whom Reade identified as her ­now-deceased mother called to report unspecified “problems” her daughter was having with her employer, whom she called “a prominent senator.” The caller said her daughter did not want to go public with her account “out of respect for” the unnamed senator. your social media marketing partner