Joe Biden has denied sexually assaulting former staffer Tara Reade 27 years ago, in his first public statement on the allegations.
“They aren’t true. This never happened,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday.
The allegations have embattled Mr Biden’s campaign as he seeks to secure the party’s nomination and take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential elections. Multiple people have come forward in recent days to confirm Ms Reade told them about her claims during the 1990s, including her brother and a former neighbour.
But on Friday, Mr Biden cited a “full and growing record of inconsistencies” in the former staffer’s allegations while calling for all records related to Ms Reade’s accusations to be released to the public. The presumptive Democratic nominee also called on the National Archives to search for and release any written complaints Ms Reade may have filed against him, as she has claimed.
The former vice president also told the show’s Mika Brzezinski he did not “remember any complaint ever having been made”, refuting claims Ms Reade made to the media in recent weeks, in which she said that she notified multiple people who worked for Mr Biden at the time of the alleged assault.
Several former staffers who Ms Reade said she notified about the allegations told NPR they do not recall her making the claims.
The interview featured several tense moments between Mr Biden and Ms Brzezinski — the campaign reportedly wanted a female host or correspondent to ask the questions about the alleged assault.
The show’s co-host questioned Mr Biden over why he would not call for additional investigations or release of information from University of Delaware, which reportedly holds many of his records from his time in the US Senate under seal.
Mr Biden he was “not going to start questioning her motive” and added: “I’m not going to start going after Tara Reade.”
In a statement Mr Biden released just before joining the programme on Friday, he 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.”
He added: “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
The former vice president also touted his record, saying he wrote the Violence Against Women Act over 25 years ago and added: “To me, freedom from fear, harm, and violence for women was a legal right, a civil right, and a human right. And I knew we had to change not only the law, but the culture.”
Ms Reade has said that Mr Biden pinned her against a wall after she delivered him a duffle bag one day, before penetrating her with his fingers. The alleged assault took place in a hallway on Capitol Hill when Mr Biden was serving as a senator, according to the former staffer.
The former vice president also said that “women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect” in the statement he released before joining the morning show on Friday.
“While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, 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,” he said. “The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”
“Responsible news organisations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways,” Mr Biden added. “But this much bears emphasising. She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues.”
Mr Biden went on to note that multiple media organisations have looked into the claims, and said “not one” corroborated those allegations.
The former vice president then echoed those statements during the interview on Friday, telling MSNBC: “This never happened, and when she first made the claim, we made it clear that it never happened, and it’s as simple as that.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies