Joe Biden denied sexual assault claims by a former staffer, saying in a statement on Friday that the alleged incident “never happened.”
The allegations have cast a shadow over Biden’s presidential campaign, with some criticizing the former vice president for failing to fully address the claims. Tara Reade, a former aide to Biden, claims that when he was a senator from Delaware, he pinned her against a wall and used his fingers to penetrate her. Reade said she filed a complaint, but that has not been located. In his statement, Biden called on the Secretary of the Senate ask the archives to identify any record of Reade’s complaint and to make it available to the media.
Conservatives have charged liberals with a double-standard, citing the controversy around Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, which was nearly derailed when he was accused of assault. Biden’s opponent, President Donald Trump, has several allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him.
“As a presidential candidate, I’m accountable to the American people,” Biden said in his statement. “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 statement was released shortly before he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” In an interview on the program, Biden reiterated his denials, saying Reade’s claims “never, never happened.”
“It is not true,” he added. “I’m saying unequivocally, it did not happen and it didn’t.”
“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski pressed Biden on his support for Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford and his contention that Reade is lying.
“Women have a right to be heard,” Biden said. “In any case the truth matters and, in this case, the truth is the claims are false.”