Joe Biden aide blames 'right-wing trolls' for allegations about unwanted touching

Former vice president says he does not believe he ever acted inappropriately

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 03 April 2019 22:24 BST
Lucy Flores alleges Joe Biden kissed the back of her head in 2014 at a campaign rally

An aide to Joe Biden has blamed “right-wing trolls” from the “dark recesses of the internet” for conflating images of the former vice president embracing people during swearing-in ceremonies, with uninvited touching.

Mr Biden is facing scrutiny over his past behaviour towards women after up to four people came forward within three days to accuse him of unwanted physical contact.

A woman from Connecticut said Mr Biden touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her at a political fundraiser in 2009.

“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Amy Lappos, 43, told the Hartford Courant on Monday.

“He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”

Ms Lappos posted the allegation in a Connecticut Women in Politics Facebook group on Sunday in response to an account in The Cut by former Nevada state legislator Lucy Flores, who last week accused Mr Biden of kissing her on the back of the head at an event in 2014.

The allegations could threaten Mr Biden’s rumoured bid to become president in 2020. He was serving as vice president under Barack Obama at the time of both alleged instances.

Mr Biden’s spokesman Bill Russo did not respond directly to Ms Lappos, and instead referred to a statement released on Sunday in which Mr Biden said: ”I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once - never - did I believe I acted inappropriately.

“If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

He added: ”We have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”

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Mr Biden, who has long been known for his warm and intimate campaign style, has come under fresh scrutiny in the #MeToo era for his propensity for hugging and physical touch as awareness about sexual assault and harassment has grown.

Ms Lappos, who formerly worked as an aide to the Democratic representative for Connecticut, Jim Hines, said she felt uncomfortable when Mr Biden approached her at the fundraiser. She said she was in the kitchen with three or four other volunteers when Mr Biden moved towards her.

“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” Ms Lappos told the Courant. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”

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Mr Biden is yet to make a final decision on whether to run for the White House.

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