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.
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. Originally from London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and never left. Prior to Marie Claire, she spent five years at Bustle building out its news and politics coverage. She loves, in order: her dog, goldfish crackers, and arguing about why umbrellas are fundamentally useless. Her first novel, EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, will be published by Minotaur Books on February 6, 2024.
Charli XCX is Engaged to The 1975's George Daniel, and She Totally Manifested It
“I want to be wifed up,” she said in no uncertain terms in an interview earlier this year.
By Rachel Burchfield
These Korean Action Movies Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat
From intense revenge stories to badass women warriors.
By Quinci LeGardye
Dua Lipa Signals the Return of Big Scarf Season
Was Lenny Kravitz on her fall mood board?
By Julia Marzovilla
36 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
It's just one of the many ways women still aren't equal to men.
By Brooke Knappenberger
How New York's First Female Governor Plans to Fight for Women If Reelected
Kathy Hochul twice came to power because men resigned amid sexual harassment scandals. Here, how she's leading differently.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
Why the 2022 Midterm Elections Are So Critical
As we blaze through a highly charged midterm election season, Swing Left Executive Director Yasmin Radjy highlights rising stars who are fighting for women’s rights.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
Tammy Duckworth: 'I’m Mad as Hell' About the Lack of Federal Action on Gun Safety
The Illinois Senator won't let the memory of the Highland Park shooting just fade away.
By Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Roe Is Gone. We Have to Keep Fighting.
Democracy always offers a path forward even when we feel thrust into the past.
By Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland, hosts of Pantsuit Politics Podcast
The Supreme Court's Mississippi Abortion Rights Case: What to Know
The case could threaten Roe v. Wade.
By Megan DiTrolio
Sex Trafficking Victims Are Being Punished. A New Law Could Change That.
Victims of sexual abuse are quietly criminalized. Sara's Law protects kids that fight back.
By Dr. Devin J. Buckley and Erin Regan
My Family and I Live in Navajo Nation. We Don't Have Access to Clean Running Water
"They say that the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are citizens still living with no access to clean water?"
By Amanda L. As Told To Rachel Epstein