Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told CBS This Morning on Thursday that the sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden (D), the Democrat Party’s presumptive nominee, is “relevant” to discuss.
“I think it’s relevant to talk about anything,” Sanders said during his appearance, emphasizing a woman’s right to be heard. “And I think any woman who feels that she was assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims.”
“I think that she has the right to make her claims and get a public hearing and the public will make their own conclusions about it,” he added. “I just don’t know enough about it to comment further.”
Sanders’ remarks come as Biden faces allegations from former Senate staffer Tara Reade, who stepped forward last year. She recently told her full story during an appearance on New York City blogger Katie Halper’s podcast, alleging that Biden pressed her up against a wall and kissed her after she delivered a gym bag to the former senator in the 1990s.
“It happened all at once, and then… his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade said, claiming that Biden “penetrated [her] with his fingers” and kissed her:
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. He wasn’t trying to do anything more. But I looked up to him. He was my father’s age,” Reade continued, describing Biden as a “champion of women’s rights,” she then believed, and adding that she “couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a Sanders supporter, also said it is “legitimate” to talk about “these things,” like the accusations against Biden — a remark that earned Reade’s praise:
— taratweets ( Alexandra Tara Reade) (@ReadeAlexandra) April 15, 2020
Biden’s team adamantly rejects the allegations.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told CBS:
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 said. “This absolutely did not happen.”
Marianne Baker, a former executive assistant in Biden’s Senate office, also cast doubt on Reade’s claims:
In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone. I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.
“These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades,” Baker added.