BOSTON (CBS) — In an interview Friday morning on MSNBC, former Vice President Joe Biden finally went beyond written statements to directly address an accusation of sexual assault.
The charge was made by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade, who worked as a staff assistant for then-Sen. Biden 27 years ago. She claims a supervisor asked her to deliver a gym bag to Biden and he penetrated her with his fingers in a Capitol Hill hallway.
“I remember the coldness of the wall, and I remember his hands underneath my blouse and underneath my skirt and his fingers penetrating me as he was trying to kiss me,” Reade said in an earlier interview.
“I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened,” Biden said.
During the interview, Biden said he had no recollection of any complaints being made against him at the time. “This never happened, and when she first made the claim we made it clear that it never happened,” he said.
Reade insists she did speak with her supervisors back then and faced retaliation for doing so, a claim denied by multiple Biden staffers from that era. She had previously claimed an uncomfortable encounter with Biden, but only recently did she say it involved sexual assault.
Biden says if there are any records of this they would be in the National Archives. “I’m asking the Secretary of the Senate today to identify whether any such document exists. If it does, make it public,” he said.
The presumptive Democratic nominee – who has pledged to pick a woman as a running mate – also said allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously.
Reade is reportedly set to sit for a Fox News interview this weekend, but the classic he said/she said battle lines have been drawn.
If it turns out Biden is lying, he’ll surely pay a political price for it. Although, in an era when north of 20 sexual harassment and assault complaints against Donald Trump have been brushed off, it’s hard to know how high a price.
If Reade can’t come up with more evidence than we’ve seen so far, her charge will likely bounce off harmlessly.