On Friday, May 1, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden—the man set to go head-to-head against Trump in the November presidential election, now that Bernie Sanders has dropped out and left Biden the last man standing—responded to the allegations of sexual assault made by Tara Reade, a former Senate aide. Reade claims that in 1993, Biden allegedly assaulted her; she also claims that he inappropriately touched her shoulders and neck on multiple occasions. Biden, who denies all of Reade's claims, has positioned himself as an advocate for sexual assault victims, famously spearheading the Obama administration's "It's On Us" initiative aimed at curbing sexual violence on college campuses.
Writing in Medium, Biden said:
It’s on us, and it’s on me as someone who wants to lead this country. I recognize my responsibility to be a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished. So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago.
They aren’t true. This never happened.
While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, 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.
In the post, Biden called on the National Archives to look into whether Reade filed a complaint about the alleged incident, writing: "If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there."
In a Morning Joe interview immediately following the publication of the Medium post, Biden noted: "I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened." When asked about Christine Blasey Ford, who Biden had said should be given "the benefit of the doubt" when she accused Brett Kavanaugh of assault, Biden replied: “From the very beginning, I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claims seriously...[But] in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters."
It's clear that Biden is aiming to present himself as accountable and transparent in regard to the claims against him—in stark contrast to President Trump, who has also been accused of sexual assault and harassment on numerous occasions (claims he rigorously denies), but who has never sat down to do an interview addressing any one of them. It's a shrewd effort to try to show Democrats that he has nothing to hide; concern over Reade's claims has reached fever pitch in the weeks since Sanders dropped out and left Biden the assumed nominee.