Biden denial of assault allegations may help him, or not

Sunday, 03 May, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden denied Tara Reade's sexual assault claims against him in an interview for the first time on Friday, facing questions about his past statements on believing assault allegations. "Mr. Biden is seeking the nation's highest office", a column by the Times' Editorial Board said. "I'm saying unequivocally, it did not happen and it didn't", he said when Mika Brzezinski asked him about the sexual assault allegations that have threatened to disrupt his campaign.

"But that makes one thing all the more perplexing: the way Biden dodged co-host Mika Brzezinski's repeated questions about the records of his Senate years that are under seal at the University of DE", writes Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post. She has also filed a criminal complaint about the incident with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. The police complaint, she said, was filed "for safety reasons only" as the statute of limitations for her claim had expired.

Perhaps the most damaging part of the interview concerned not the truth or falsity of Reade's allegation but whether Biden and other Democrats have been inconsistent when it comes to believing women who say they were victims of sexual assault.

The Democrat put out his statement before speaking on Morning Joe, a show on USA cable channel MSNBC.

Biden struggled in the interview to reconcile his comments during the Kavanaugh affair with his rejection of Reade's claim.

"What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was she had a right to be heard", he went on. "That phrase stayed with me".

Mr Biden's campaign had previously denied the allegations by Ms Reade, who worked in Mr Biden's Senate office for nine months ending in 1993.

"He responded, he denied it, and there's nothing more to be added", Brazile said, before alluding to Reade's repeated public statements.

It appears there were no witnesses to the alleged assault but three people have backed Reade's account.

Former neighbour Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider: "This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it".

Reade first made the accusation on a podcast in March, and it has since been reported by several other news outlets, including NPR.

McEnany also spoke out about the false equivalency between Reade's story and Christine Blasey Ford's when prompted by a question about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"It did not happen".

"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", said Biden.

Reade alleges that in 1993 then-Senator Biden assaulted her in a "semi-private" stairwell on Capitol Hill. If they come forward and say something happened to them, they should start with the presumption they are telling the truth.

"Are women to be believed unless it pertains to you?"

Time will tell: "It remains to be seen if Biden's remarks Friday will put the matter to rest", writes Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair. He told 2,200 donors, many of them veterans of the Obama administration, that his position has always been to take women's claims seriously. "Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts".