NATIONAL NEWS

Biden On Sexual Assault Allegation: ‘Never, Never Happened’

May 1, 2020, 7:40 AM
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)...
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday categorically denied allegations from a former Senate staffer that he sexually assaulted her in the early 1990s, saying “this never happened.”

Biden’s first public remarks on the allegation by former staffer Tara Reade come at a critical moment for the presumptive Democratic nominee as he tries to relieve mounting pressure after weeks of leaving denials to his campaign.

“I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened,” Biden said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Biden said he will ask the National Archives to determine whether there is any record of such a complaint being filed, but he said repeatedly that he doesn’t believe such a record exists.

“The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993,” Biden said. “But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files.”

Biden said, “There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept.”

Republicans worried about President Donald Trump’s increasingly precarious political standing are seizing on the allegation to portray Democrats as hypocrites who only defend women who allege wrongdoing against conservatives. They are digging in despite the fact that it could renew attention on the multiple sexual assault allegations lodged against Trump.

Democrats, meanwhile, are in an awkward position of vigorously validating women who come forward with their stories while defending the man who will be their standard-bearer in what many in the party consider the most important election of their lifetimes.

“The campaign has issued statements, but he hasn’t issued any statements in his own voice,” said former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile. “It’s not helping, it’s just damaging — not only to the person who has come forward, but it’s also damaging the candidate.”

The November contest between Biden and Trump will be the first presidential race of the #MeToo era, which has led numerous women to come forward with allegations of sexual assault. Trump has been accused of assault and unwanted touching by numerous women, allegations he denies.

Women are a core constituency for Democrats, and Biden has a mixed history. While he wrote the Violence Against Women Act as a senator, he also came under heavy criticism for his handling of Anita Hill’s Senate testimony in the 1990s. Just before he launched his 2020 campaign, several women accused him of unwanted touching, behavior for which he apologized.

Biden has pledged to pick a woman as a running mate, and the allegation has left those thought to be in contention in a tough spot.

Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia Democratic governor candidate, said, “I believe Joe Biden,” citing a New York Times investigation that she said exonerated him.

“Women deserve to be heard,” she said, “but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources.”

That echoed talking points issued by the Biden campaign to surrogates last week that were obtained by The Associated Press. They pointed to investigations by The New York Times, The Washington Post and the AP that found no other allegation of sexual assault and no pattern of sexual misconduct.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also defended Biden. Speaking on CNN, she said she was “satisfied with how he has responded,” even as she acknowledged “it’s a matter that he has to deal with.”

Some Democratic donors and fundraisers say the issue has not come up in calls with party financiers. Others worry that it could be used against Biden, much as Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the activities of the Clinton Foundation were wielded against her by Trump.

Some female Democratic operatives expressed concerns the allegation is particularly damaging because it’s an indictment of Biden’s central campaign rationale: that he provides a moral counter to Trump and that the election is a “battle for the soul of America.”

“The stakes could not be higher for defeating Donald Trump — but at the same time, I think we have to apply a consistent standard for how we treat allegations of sexual assault, and also be clear-eyed about how Donald Trump will use these allegations in the general election campaign,” said Claire Sandberg, who worked as Bernie Sanders’ organizing director.

The silence from the Biden campaign has given Republicans an opening on an issue that was, in 2016, more fraught for the GOP, when Trump was asked to answer for the more than two dozen women who alleged varying levels of sexual assault and harassment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News on Thursday that Biden will “have to participate in releasing all the information related to” the allegation, a stance he didn’t take when Trump faced misconduct accusations.

The GOP argues Democrats aren’t being consistent, pointing to aggressive questioning and coverage of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when he faced an allegation of sexual assault.

Speaking about the allegation for the first time on Thursday, Trump said Biden “should respond” before proceeding to criticize the treatment of Kavanaugh as “an absolute disgrace to our country.”

Steve Guest, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said “the left, and their media allies, has one standard for Republicans and another standard for Democrats like Joe Biden.”

“The double standard,” he said, “is appalling.”

___

Associated Press writers Brian Slodysko in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
19 hours ago
police tape outside of a Virginia elementary school...
Denise Lavoie and Ben Finley, Associated Press

Boy who shot teacher allegedly tried to choke another

An attorney for a teacher who was shot and wounded by a 6-year-old Virginia boy says in a legal notice that the first-grader constantly cursed at staff and teachers, chased students around and tried to whip them with his belt and once choked another teacher “until she couldn’t breathe.”
19 hours ago
IN SPACE - FEBRUARY 8: In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the...
Jackie Wattles

SpaceX put a Tesla sportscar into space five years ago. Where is it now?

It's been half a decade since Elon Musk launched his own Tesla car into space with a SpaceX rocket, but where is it now?
19 hours ago
AMC raises seat prices...
Associated Press

AMC to charge more for good seats in movie theaters

Middle seats at many U.S. movie theaters just got more expensive.
19 hours ago
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 10: In this photo illustration, the FTX website is seen on a computer o...
Allison Morrow

FTX to politicians: Give us back our donations or we’ll sue you

New FTX management is pressuring hundreds of politicians and political organizations to return millions of dollars donated by them or its founders before it went bankrupt.
19 hours ago
A photo taken on May 5, 2022 shows the receiver station of the Druzhba pipeline of petroleum betwee...
Anna Cooban, CNN

Europe’s ban on Russian diesel could send pump prices even higher

Europe is scrambling to buy diesel fuel from Russia before a ban on imports comes into force.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Biden On Sexual Assault Allegation: ‘Never, Never Happened’