Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden denied Tara Reade’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in a Senate office building in 1993.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe anchor Mika Brzezinski, Biden said of the allegations, “It never, never happened.”
Reade claims that Biden pinned her up against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers. After she pulled away, she said Biden said to her, “Come on, I heard you liked me.” She said he then told her, “You’re nothing to me, nothing.” This week, Business Insider reported the accounts of two women who said that Reade told them about aspects of her claim in the 1990s.
In his interview, Biden said that he would not question Reade’s motives, but insisted several points that it did not happen.
“I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened. It didn’t,” he said.
Reade said that she filed a complaint with the Senate personnel office about Biden around that time, but she does not have a record of it. But she told reporters that the complaint mentioned how Biden made her feel uncomfortable, but did not address an assault. Her contention that she filed a complaint has led to calls for the release of Biden’s Senate records from the University of Delaware, which are currently sealed, but Biden said that such a personnel document would be with the National Archives.
“I don’t remember any complaint ever having been made,” he said. He has called for the Secretary of the Senate to identify any record in the Archives of that complaint and make it available to the press.
Brzezinski read a comment that Biden made during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, who faced claims that he sexually assaulted a woman during his school, an accusation he vigorously denied.
Brzezinski said, “You said this, ‘For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights, the focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the fact, whether or not it has been worse or better over time.”
“Should we not start off with the presumption that the essence of what she is talking about is real? She says you sexually assaulted her.”
Biden responded, “From the very beginning I’ve said, believing women means taking the women’s claim seriously when she steps forward and then vet it, look into it. That is true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard, and the pressure to rigorously investigate the claims that they make. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is the claims are false.”
Biden grew frustrated as Brzezinski pressed him on why a search, even an online word search, couldn’t be conducted of his Senate records to see if there were any records of Reade, but Biden said, “There is nothing. They are not there. I don’t understand the point you are trying to make.”
Brzezinski said that because Biden is calling for a search of the National Archives records of Reade, “I’m asking why not do the same in the University of Delaware records, which have raised questions because they are supposed to be revealed to the public and then they were sealed for a longer period of time. Why not do it for both sets of records?”
Biden responded, “Because the material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files, but it does have a lot of confidential conversations that I had with the president about a particular issue, that I had with the heads of state of other places, that that would not be something that would be revealed while I was in public office or while I was seeking public office. It just stands to reason, to the best of my knowledge, no one else has done that either.”
Earlier, Biden released a statement in which he said, “While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. 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 said in his statement, “Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.”
His complete statement is here.
Earlier, Morning Joe ran an extended segment showing clips of 2018, when Brzezinski and co-anchor Joe Scarborough were much more cautious about the claims being made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. The point was to show that while other public figures and those in the media were rushing to judgment, they did not.
“The blanket and absolute standard of simply believing all women is a notion we dismissed here on the show early on,” Brzezinski said. “The standard for the media in covering sexual assault allegations needs to be to report the facts, listen to the accuser, and give the accused full due process, both men and women. We were very clear about that on the show during the Kavanaugh story.”
Later, Brzezinski tweeted, “The interview with @JoeBiden was difficult, having known and greatly respected him for decades. (I still do.) The notion that all women are to be believed, which dominated the Kavanaugh hearings, was revisited. Should it be? Were Democrats wrong THEN or NOW?”
Biden will appear on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show, PoliticsNation, on Saturday.
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