Joe Biden denied a former Senate staffer's allegation of sexual assault on Friday morning, saying the accusation isn't true. "This never happened," Biden said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. It's his first comment on the accusation by his former staffer, Tara Reade. He made the statement ahead of an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the allegation for the first time on television.
"The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993," Biden said. "But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files." He said he will ask the National Archives to determine whether there is any record of such a complaint being filed.
"There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices," the statement said. Biden said he had requested that the “Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
Biden's campaign has unequivocally denied the allegation, but pressure had been mounting for the candidate to address the claim himself. Read shook up Biden's presidential campaign in March when she claimed in a podcast that Biden pinned her to a wall and used his fingers to penetrate her in an office building on Capitol Hill when he was a senator from Delaware. Reade's brother and a former neighbor have said that Read discussed details of the alleged assault with them in the 1990s. Several people who worked in the Senate office at the time said that Reade's allegations do not square with their own experiences working for Biden.
A number of Biden's potential running mates, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, have supported him amid his silence on the issue. Conservatives have accused Democrats of a double-standard when it comes to sexual assault allegations, pointing to the different reaction allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh received when the Trump appointee was accused of sexual assault during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2018. Kavanaugh denied those allegations. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also defended Biden. Speaking on CNN, she said she was “satisfied with how he has responded,” even as she acknowledged “it’s a matter that he has to deal with.”
President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that Biden should address Reade's claim, but noted that "it could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations." Trump has been accused of sexual assault by a number of women and was infamously caught on tape bragging about grabbing women between their legs.