After what the New York Times says were "intensive discussions" within Joe Biden's campaign on how he should best address former aide Tara Reade's sexual assault allegations against him, the former vice president appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe program Friday morning to directly speak to the issue. When MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski asked Biden directly to go on the record on whether he'd sexually assaulted Reade, who says Biden did so in a Senate building in 1993, Biden answered succinctly. "No, it is not true," he responded. "I'm saying unequivocally: It never, never happened." Biden says he doesn't remember any complaint filed by Reade and adds his team hadn't reached out to Reade.
The Times notes that before Biden's MSNBC appearance, he hadn't been asked about the allegations in any interviews. Top Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are using the accusation in attacks against Biden, but President Trump, who himself has dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against him, wasn't quite as aggressive when asked about it Thursday. "I think he should respond," he said of Biden, though he added, "It could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations, I've been falsely charged numerous times—and there is such a thing." More on Biden's response:
- Brzezinski cited a statement Biden put out shortly before the interview noting if any complaint by Reade had been filed, it would be in the National Archives. "I'm confident there's nothing [there]," Biden said, per the Guardian, adding that he's requesting the National Archives search for any related documents. "There's nothing for me to hide. Nothing at all."
- Reade says she thinks her complaint, as well as her separation letter and other files, can be found in Biden's Senate records, which are sealed at the University of Delaware until at least two years after he leaves public office. She wants those records released, but Biden insists that's not where any complaints will be found. When Brzezinski pressed Biden on why he wouldn't support searching for Reade-related documents in the university's files, he said over and over, "They're not there," per the New York Times.
- The subject of Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Brett Kavanaugh also came up, with Brzezinski noting, "Why is it real for Dr. Ford, but not for Tara Reade?" Biden's answer: "I'm not suggesting [Reade] had no right to come forward. [Women] should come forward. They should be heard. And then it should be investigated. ... And if there's anything that is consistent with what's being said ... then it should be believed. But ultimately, the truth matters."
- Biden expanded on this philosophy in his statement: "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. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."
- When asked by Brzezinski what he would say to Reade, he repeated: "This never, ever happened. I don't know what is motivating her. I don't know what's behind any of it. But it's irrelevant. ... It never happened. Period. I'm not going to start questioning her motive. ... I'm not going to go after Tara Reade for saying these things." But, he added, "what are the facts? Do any of the things she said ... add up?"
(Read more Joe Biden