Biden Denies Sexual Assault and Says ‘This Never Happened’

Joe Biden denied he sexually assaulted a former Senate staffer and called for any relevant records to be released, addressing directly on Friday an accusation that left Democrats weighing their support for the#MeToo movement against him as the party’s presumptive nominee.

“I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago,” Biden said in a statement Friday about allegations he assaulted Tara Reade. “They aren’t true. This never happened.”

Reade says that while she worked in Biden’s Senate office in 1993, he pushed her against a wall in an office building, put his hand up her skirt and sexually assaulted her with his fingers.

She has said that she reported the incident to three senior staff memin Biden’s office who have all denied being informed about it. She also says she made a more formal harassment complaint to the Senate, but neither she nor the relevant Senate office has a copy.

Biden called Friday for the National Archives to release of any record of the complaint.

“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives,” he said, because it is where the records of what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices are kept. He said he is asking the secretary of the Senate to ask the Archives “to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”

His statement made no mention of his Senate office documents, which are at the University of Delaware but not open to the public.

Friday’s statement came before Biden was expected to appear live on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program to address the accusation for the first time since Reade made it public in late March. Pressure had intensified in recent days for Biden to weigh in, especially after a former neighbor of Reade’s told a reporter that she recalled Reade telling her the story a few years after the alleged incident.

Reade was among several women who said last year that Biden had touched or hugged them in ways that made them uncomfortable but none of the women alleged sexual assault by Biden, who was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972.

Most Democratic leaders have stood by Biden as they’ve balanced support of the #MeToo movement with their loyalty to their party’s candidate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she has “complete respect” for the movement that says women who make harassment or assault allegations should be believed, and “there is a lot of excitement around the idea that women will be heard and listened to.” But, she added, “there is also due process and the fact that Joe Biden is Joe Biden.”

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