Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested on Tuesday it is completely “legitimate” to talk about the sexual assault allegation a former congressional staffer lodged against Joe Biden (D), the Democrat Party’s presumptive nominee.
The New York lawmaker deviated from establishment media outlets, like the New York Times, and not only acknowledged the allegation former congressional staffer Tara Reade made against the presidential hopeful but added that it is “legitimate” to talk about it.
During an online forum discussion hosted by The Wing, a questioner mentioned Reade’s accusation and stated that, while she does not support President Trump’s reelection, she “really resent[s] the fact the other choice is someone who has a really long history of being creepy to women.”
“What you’re voicing is so legitimate and real,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “That’s why I find this kind of silencing of all dissent to be a form of gaslighting.”
Moreover, the freshman lawmaker said it is “legitimate to talk about these things.”
“I think it’s legitimate to talk about these things. And if we want, if we again want to have integrity, you can’t say, you know — both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you, until it inconveniences us,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“A lot of us are survivors, and it’s really, really hard and uncomfortable,” she continued, adding that ignoring the allegations is the “exact opposite of integrity.”
“I think a lot of us are just in this moment where it’s like, how did we get here? You know, it almost felt like we started this cycle where we had kind of moved on from, you know, from all of this. And now it feels like we’re kind of back in it,” she said.
“And, you know, the most diverse field that we’ve ever seen — that we’re kind of back kind of replaying old movies in a way,” the lawmaker added.
Reade came into the spotlight last year after stepping forward and accusing Biden of inappropriately touching her during her time as a staff assistant in the former senator’s office in the 1990s. She told her full story during an appearance on the podcast of New York City blogger Katie Halper last month, alleging that Biden pressed her up against a wall and kissed her after she delivered a gym bag to the then-senator.
“It happened all at once, and then… his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade explained:
And then he went down my skirt and then up inside it. And he penetrated me with his fingers, whatever. And he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me. He said several things and I can’t remember everything [that] he said. I remember a couple of things. I remember his saying, first, like as he was doing it, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’ and then him saying to me, when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing and I, how I was pulled back and he said, ‘Come on man, I heard you liked me.’ That phrase stayed with me because I kept thinking what I might have said. And I can’t remember exactly if he said ‘I thought’ or if ‘I heard.’ It’s like he implied that I had done this.’’’
“For me, everything shattered in that moment,” Reade said. “He wasn’t trying to do anything more. But I looked up to him. He was my father’s age.”
“He was this champion of women’s rights in my eyes and I couldn’t believe it was happening,” she continued:
While acknowledging a woman’s right to tell her story, Biden’s campaign forcefully denied Reade’s allegations and encouraged reporters to “rigorously vet those claims,” contending that the accusations were false.
Reade, who stated that there was “no democracy” for her after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropped out of the race — a move that effectively solidified Biden’s status as the party’s eventual nominee — is appreciative of what appears to be Ocasio-Cortez’s support.
“I’m very humbled and honored because she is literally the only politician that has spoken up on my behalf,” she told CBS News.
Biden’s accuser also thanked Ocasio-Cortez on social media for being “literally the first member of Congress to address publicly what happened” to her.
“Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is literally the first member of Congress to address publicly what happened to me when I worked for Joe Biden,” she wrote. “Thank you @AOC”:
— taratweets ( Alexandra Tara Reade) (@ReadeAlexandra) April 15, 2020
Biden’s campaign is continuing to deny the allegations. The presumptive nominee’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told CBS that Biden has “dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women”:
He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.”
“What is clear about this claim: It is untrue,” she added. “This absolutely did not happen.”