AOC says it’s ‘legitimate to talk about’ sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden

New York congresswoman also says she and vice president have never talked

Andrew Naughtie
Wednesday 15 April 2020 13:05
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Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has expressed reservations about Joe Biden.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has expressed reservations about Joe Biden.

One of the Democratic party’s most revered progressives has said that allegations of sexual assault against her party’s presidential nominee deserve to be discussed seriously.

Speaking during an online forum hosted by The Wing, which describes itself as a global community for “the professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women”, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was asked about allegations of sexual assault made against Mr Biden by former staffer Tara Reade.

As reported by CBS, one of the questioners on The Wing raised her resentment that the Democratic candidate against Mr Trump had ended up being Mr Biden, whom she said “has a really long history of being creepy to women”.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez responded: “What you’re voicing is so legitimate and real. That’s why I find this kind of silencing of all dissent to be a form of gaslighting.”

“I think it’s legitimate to talk about these things. And if we want, if we again want to have integrity, you can’t say, you know — both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you, until it inconveniences us.”

Speaking to CBS, Ms Reade said she was “humbled and honoured” that Ms Ocasio-Cortez had spoken up for her.

In the summer of 2019, Ms Reade was one of several women to accuse Mr Biden of a history of inappropriate touching and invasion of personal space. At the time, he said that while he apologised if he made anyone feel uncomfortable, he was not sorry for any of his intentions.

It was in the midst of the primary contest this spring that Ms Reade made a more serious and more specific allegation against Mr Biden, accusing him of pinning her against a wall and seriously assaulting her in the spring of 1993.

While the vice president has not addressed Ms Reade’s allegations himself, they have been vociferously denied by many in the Biden orbit, including both current and former staffers. Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told The New York Times that while Mr Biden supports women’s right to have their allegations heard and taken seriously, Ms Reade’s claim did not stand up to that scrutiny.

“Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen,” she said.

The Independent has requested a comment from Mr Biden.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez served as one of Bernie Sanders’s highest-profile surrogates during the long Democratic primary, appearing at his rallies well into the contest’s competitive phase. She has yet to endorse Mr Biden, whom some of Mr Sanders’s more ardent supporters are hardly keen on.

Indeed, the New York congresswoman’s stated priorities and principles do not make her an immediate match with the former vice president, who has been an establishment figure since the 1970s and served in an administration that many progressives regard as a disappointing centrist compromise.

In another interview, this one with The New York Times, Ms Ocasio-Cortez pointed out problems Mr Biden had to address to unify the party, and explained that as far as the party’s left is concerned, coming together around a single nominee will demand hard work on all sides.

“The whole process of coming together should be uncomfortable for everyone involved — that’s how you know it’s working. And if Biden is only doing things he’s comfortable with, then it’s not enough.”

She also said she and Mr Biden have in fact never spoken – “Never. Not that I know of, no”.

However, she made plain in the same discussion that she will support the Democratic nominee to defeat Donald Trump in November.

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