Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden publicly addressed for the first time sexual assault allegations made against him by former Senate staffer Tara Reade, first in a written statement on Friday, then shortly after during a live interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.
“She says in 1993, Mr. Vice President, that you pinned her against the wall and reached under her clothing and penetrated her with your fingers, will you please go on the record with the American people,” Brzezinski said. “Did you sexually assault Tara Reade?”
“No, it is not true,” Biden responded. “I am saying unequivocally it never happened.”
He said he does not remember any complaint she might have made 27 years ago regarding this allegation.
In his written statement, Biden called on the secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archives if there is any record of Reade’s complaint she alleges she filed.
If there is a record, he said it should be made public. During the interview, however, Biden was “confident” no record exists.
“This is an open book, there is nothing for me to hide,” Biden said. “Nothing at all.”
Brzezinski pressed him several times on why he doesn’t strive for transparency in the files at the University of Delaware related to his time in the Senate.
He insisted no records related to Reade would be at the university because they do not contain personnel files, only public records such as speeches and position papers.
Brzezinski brought up Biden’s remarks during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, noting that he said at the time women should be believed.
“I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward then is vetted,” Biden responded. “Women have a right to be heard, but in the end the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is the claims are false.”
Brzezinski asked Biden if “the essence” of Reade’s allegations are real and why she may be doing this.
Biden asked about his comments saying the "essence" of what a woman alleging sexual assault must be true and the double standard on Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/t3ZjVXFmea— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 1, 2020
“I’m not going to question her motives… I don’t know why she’s saying this, I don’t know why after 27 years all of a sudden this gets raised. I don’t understand it…I’m not going to attack her,” he responded. "But I have a right to say ‘look at the facts, check it out.’”
But she didn’t let up.
“Why is it real for Dr. Ford but not for Tara Reade?” Brzezinski asked.
“I’m not suggesting she had no right to come forward,” he said. “It should be investigated…if the case is made then it should be believed, but ultimately the truth matters.”
"Are women to be believed unless it pertains to you?" she followed up.
"Look, women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt, if they come forward and say something that they said happened to them. Start with the presumption they're telling truth, then you have to look at circumstances and the facts. And the facts in this case do not exist, they never happened...I assure you it did not happen, period. Period."
Finally, as to what Biden would say to Reade if he could speak to her, the former vice president simply replied, “This never, ever happened.”
“I don’t know what is motivating her, I don’t know what’s behind any of it but it’s irrelevant,” he added. “It never happened, period.”
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