Shortly before Friday's "Morning Joe" interview, Biden called for the National Archives to release a complaint Reade says she filed back in 1993.
- After a lengthy silence, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has vehemently denied an allegation that he sexually assaulted a staffer when he was a US senator.
- "No, it is not true," Biden said during a Friday interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I'm saying unequivocally: It never happened."
- In a statement released shortly before the interview, Biden called for the secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archives to release the complaint the former staffer, Tara Reade, says she filed back in 1993.
- Earlier this week, Insider was the first to report an account from Reade's former neighbor corroborating details of her allegation against Biden that she shared in the mid-1990s.
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After a lengthy silence, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, denied an allegation from a former staffer that he sexually assaulted her in 1993 while serving as a US senator.
"No, it is not true. I'm saying unequivocally: It never happened," Biden said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in his first interview on the subject.
Just before the interview, Biden issued a statement calling on the National Archives to release the complaint that the former staffer, Tara Reade, says she filed back in 1993.
"I'm confident there is nothing — no one that I'm aware of filed a complaint, no one in my office at the time is aware of any such request or complaint," Biden said on "Morning Joe." "I'm not worried about it at all. If there's a complaint, that's where it would be."
Reade has said there could be records of her complaint in the documents from Biden's decades in the Senate that he archived at the University of Delaware, but Biden said those papers contained no personnel files.
"A record like this can only be in one place," Biden said. "My archives do not contain any personnel files — they're all public records. If a complaint like this exists, it would be in the National Archives. So I'm asking the secretary of the Senate today to release those documents."
Biden also denied that his office entered into any nondisclosure agreements.
"Look, from the very beginning, believing women means taking claims seriously, look into it, vet it," Biden said. "Women should always be heard and have their claims vigorously investigated."
In the interview, the "Morning Joe" cohost Mika Brzezinski pressed Biden on whether he stood by his comments during Brett Kavanaugh's 2018 Supreme Court confirmation battle that if a woman entered the public eye with a serious allegation, the "essence" of it was most likely true.
"From the very beginning, I've said believing women means taking the woman's claims seriously," Biden said. "Then vet it, look into that. That's true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I'll always uphold that principle. In the end, the truth is what matters. And in this case, the claims are false."
Brzezinski also quoted multiple female Democratic leaders who had said both during and after the Kavanaugh hearings that women who made such serious allegations should be believed.
"Look, women are to be believed given the benefit of the doubt — if they come forward and say something that happened to them, they should start the presumption that they're telling the truth," Biden said. "Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts. And the facts of this case do not add up. And there's so many inconsistencies in what's been said in this case, just look at the facts. I assure you, this did not happen."
Reade first brought her allegation into the public sphere in a March 25 interview on the progressive Rolling Stone writer Katie Halper's podcast, where she said Biden assaulted her when she was a staff assistant. Reade also filed a criminal complaint with the Washington, DC, police, Insider reported on April 10.
Reporting in news outlets, including Insider, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, has not found any other Biden staffers working in his Senate office at the time who recalled Reade making such an allegation or who recalled any other inappropriate behavior by Biden.
But multiple people who knew Reade, including her brother, friends, and former neighbors and colleagues, have recalled her either disclosing details of the assault or saying she had been harassed while working in the US Senate.
Earlier this week, Insider was the first to report an account from Reade's former neighbor corroborating details of her allegation against Biden in the mid-1990s.
Lynda LaCasse, who lived in the same apartment complex as Reade, said that Reade told her in either 1995 or 1996 that Biden assaulted her. Insider also spoke with a former colleague, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in a California state senator's office in the mid-'90s. Sanchez said Reade told her she had been sexually harassed by her boss in the US Senate and then fired.