Former Vice President Joe Biden directly addressed the allegation that he sexually assaulted former aide Tara Reade for the first time Friday, telling MSNBC’s "Morning Joe": “I’m saying unequivocally that it never, never happened. It didn’t, and it never happened.”
“I don’t remember any kind of complaint she could have made. It was 27 years ago,” Biden said. The presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee also said his campaign had not been in contact with Reade.
Shortly before his appearance on the morning show, Biden flatly denied the allegation in a press release. "I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago. They aren’t true. This never happened,” it said.
Biden also urged news organizations to investigate the veracity of Reade's claim, made public in March, that he pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers in 1993, when she was working in his Senate office as an aide.
“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,” he said.
“I’m not going to question her motive. I don’t know why she’s saying this,” Biden told MSNBC. “I don’t understand why after 27 years, this gets raised. She has a right to say whatever she has to say, but I have a right to say, 'Check it out.'”
Biden also said he’s requesting that the National Archives release any records of a sexual harassment complaint Reade made against him at the time.
“There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint,” 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 at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
“I’m confident there’s nothing,” Biden told MSNBC. “No one that I’m aware of in my Senate office at the time is aware of any such request or complaint, and so I’m not worried about it at all. If there's a complaint, that’s where it would be.”
“This is an open book. There’s nothing for me to hide,” Biden added.
Reade’s allegation, that Biden assaulted her while she worked for him as a staff assistant in 1993, has been publicly corroborated in recent days by a former neighbor and a former colleague from a few years after Reade left Biden’s office. That followed a New York Times report from earlier in the month in which Biden’s staff at the time denied anything had occurred, though another friend said Reade told her about an incident when it occurred in 1993.
The Biden campaign has circulated the Times story in recent days as being proof that Reade’s claim was debunked. The Times denied that their reporters came to that conclusion in a statement earlier this week.
Last week, a video clip from shortly after the alleged incident occurred resurfaced, of a woman appearing to be Reade’s mother calling in to Larry King's CNN show and saying that her daughter “just left [D.C.] after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him."
Biden denied charges of hypocrisy, after saying during the Supreme Court nomination hearing for Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, should be given the “benefit of the doubt.”
“I’m not suggesting [Reade] has no right to come forward,” Biden said. “Every woman has a right to be heard, and then it should be investigated. If anything is consistent with what she’s said, then it should be believed. But the truth matters."
Framing his response to Reade around his support of the Violence Against Women Act, Biden said in his statement that he “will continue to learn from women, to listen to women, to support women, and yes, to make sure women’s voices are heard.”
“I started my work over 25 years ago with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. As president, I’m committed to finishing the job,” Biden said.
Cover: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the Jill and Joe Biden 2020 Super Tuesday Los Angeles Rally held at the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center on March 3, 2020 in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)