Joe Biden formally addressed the sexual assault allegations being lobbed against him on Friday morning. In an interview with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, the former vice-president denied any misconduct against former staffer Tara Reade, firmly insisting, “It is not true…. I am saying unequivocally it never happened.”
The appearance on Morning Joe was the first time Biden addressed the allegations on a live broadcast. Reade came forward in March claiming that the former senator from Delaware pinned her against the wall and penetrated her with his fingers. Amid the pandemic, news of her sexual assault quietly flew under the radar for weeks.
When Biden was asked directly about Reade’s allegations, he repeated multiple times that it did not happen, adding that he, nor anybody he knows, remembers any type of complaint she may have made 27 years ago. “It’s as simple as that,” he offered.
Biden says he has called on the secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archives to identify any record of the complaint and has instructed them to make it available if one is retrieved. But Brzezinski pressed the former VP on why he won’t also unseal his Senate records held at the University of Delaware. Biden maintained throughout the interview that records of a sexual assault would not be held there, and unsealing those records would not reveal any personnel matters. “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” he said referring to the National Archives. “I’m not worried about it at all. If there’s a complaint that’s where it would be, that’s where it would be filed.”
Brzezinski also pressed Biden about believing women and a possible shift in stance from the Kavanaugh hearings to now navigating his own sexual assault allegation. The former VP insisted there was no hypocrisy. “Look, from the very beginning I’ve said believing the woman means taking her claims seriously,” Biden said before adding that allegations should still be vetted. “Women have the right to be heard. I’ll always uphold that principle,” he continued. “But the truth is what matters.”
The presumed 2020 Democratic nominee says he is not going to question the motives of Tara Reade. He will not attack her. But he admitted that he doesn’t understand why she’s coming forward with an allegation he says is not true, and a story that he says has several inconsistencies. “She has the right to say whatever she wants to say and I have the right to say ‘look at the facts,’ ” Biden asserted. “The truth matters. The truth matters.”