Key Words: Biden says voters ‘shouldn’t vote for me’ if they believe sexual assault allegations
Presumptive Democratic candidate again denies claims, but says accuser deserves to be heard
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday again denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a staffer in the 1990s, and offered frank advice to prospective voters disturbed by the accusations.
“I think they should vote their heart. And if they believe Tara Reade they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”
— Joe Biden
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” Thursday night, Biden said he doesn’t remember accuser Tara Reade, but said she deserves to be heard.
“When a woman makes a claim that she has been harassed or abused — and this claim has changed as it’s gone on — but harassed or abused, she should be taken seriously,” he said. “She should come forward, share her story. She should be taken seriously.”
Reade claims that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 when she was working as an aide in his Senate office. She has said she filed a harassment complaint at the time, but it did not mention the alleged assault. Reade has called for Biden to drop out of the presidential race.
Biden said Reade’s allegations “should be thoroughly vetted. . . . What matters is the truth. Truth is what matters. And the truth of the case is nothing like this ever, ever happened. She has a right to be heard, but then it should be vetted, and the truth ultimately matters. And I give my word it never, ever happened.”
Biden said Reade’s story has changed over the years, but said he would not question her motives.
“I don’t want to question anything, other than to say the truth matters. This is being vetted. It’s been vetted,” he said. “They went and interviewed scores of my employees over my whole career. This is just totally, thoroughly, completely out of character. And the idea that at a public place, in a hallway, I would assault a woman. . . . Anyway, I promise you it never happened.”
Biden was joined on the show by Stacey Abrams, who is widely seen as a potential running mate and who has endorsed Biden.
“I believe his denial,” Abrams told Vice TV earlier this week. “If I thought that this man had done that, then I could not be in this space.”