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Biden denies sexual assault claims, calls for complaint to be released if it exists

Biden campaign 'inaccurately' claims NYT report shows sexual assault 'did not happen'

Biden denies sexual assault claims, calls for complaint to be released if it exists

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during a campaign event on January 3, 2020, in Independence, Iowa. Biden spoke about foreign policy and domestic issues. | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

UPDATE: 8:30 a.m. Friday: Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday publicly denied the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him by former staffer Tara Reade. The allegations surfaced over a month ago but Biden hasn't been asked to respond until today. He also issued a lengthy statement on Medium before going on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" where he said the National Archives should release the document showing her complaint if it exists. However, the National Archives told Business Insider that it doesn't keep such records but the Senate does. 

Original:

The New York Times says the Biden campaign misrepresented its reporting on the presumptive 2020 Democrat presidential nominee’s sexual assault accuser, Tara Reade, refuting claims that the newspaper reported that the allegation didn’t happen.

On Wednesday, a New York Times spokesperson told Fox News that the reported talking points circulated by the Biden campaign on the former senate staffer’s accusation that the former Delaware senator reached under her skirt in 1993 “inaccurately suggest” that the newspaper’s reporting found that the allegation “did not happen.”

“Our investigation made no conclusion either way," the spokesperson explained. "As Buzzfeed correctly reported, our story found three former Senate aides whom Reade said she complained to contemporaneously, all of whom either did not remember the incident or said that it did not happen."

The newspaper’s statement comes after prominent Democrat politicians thought to be potential vice presidential selections defended former Vice President Joe Biden in the media in recent days, relying on The New York Times reporting to imply that Reade’s allegation is unfounded. 

“The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden,” Stacy Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial and lawmaker, said on CNN Tuesday night, adding that she believes that the incident “did not happen.”

Although the former vice president himself has remained silent on the allegations, BuzzFeed reports that his campaign circulated talking points shortly after The New York Times published its investigation into Reade’s allegation earlier this month. 

The newspaper reportedly spoke to over two dozen people who worked with Biden in the early 1990s. The article reports that none of the people The New York Times spoke with were able to corroborate Reade’s claims. 

Although there are at least eight women who have accused Biden of being too handsy and violating their personal space over the years, the newspaper reported that it found “no pattern of sexual misconduct” by Biden because no other allegation about sexual assault surfaced during its investigation.  

According to talking points distributed by the campaign and reviewed by BuzzFeed, the campaign claimed: “a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”

“Here’s the bottom line. Vice President Joe Biden has spent over 40 years in public life: 36 years in the Senate; 7 Senate campaigns, 2 previous presidential runs, two vice presidential campaigns, and 8 years in the White House,” the talking points added. “There has never been a complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct like this regarding him — ever.”

Although the former staffers who spoke with The New York Times could not corroborate Reade’s accusations, people Reade said she told about the incident at the time recalled in media interviews that they remember Reade telling them about the incident with Biden.

Reade claims that Biden reached under her skirt and penetrated her when she met him in the corridor in which she was to deliver the senator a duffle bag.

The New York Times spokesperson also said in his statement that the article also explained that former interns interviewed for the article remember Reade suddenly changing roles and that she no longer oversaw their work. 

According to the spokesperson, Reade’s change in roles “took place during the same time period that Reade said she was abruptly reassigned.”

“The Times also spoke to a friend who said Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time; another friend and Reade’s brother say she told them of a traumatic sexual incident involving Biden," the spokesperson said.

Last week, The Intercept unearthed a recording from CNN’s “Larry King Live” from August 1993 that shows Reade’s mother anonymously calling in to the show to voice her frustrations with a certain senator and asked King who her daughter could turn to besides media to hold the senator accountable. 

Since publishing the article in mid-April, The New York Times made edits to change the wording of the article.

The newspaper originally reported that it “found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable." The reference to “beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable” has been removed

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet admitted that the edit was made at the request of the Biden campaign. 

“Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct,” Baquet told columnist Ben Smith. “And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.”

Baquet said he didn’t note the change in the article because he believed it was not a factual mistake.

“I thought it was an awkward phrasing issue that could be read different ways and that it wasn’t something factual we were correcting,” Baquet said. “So I didn’t think that was necessary.”

Reade said she file a complaint against Biden at the time with a congressional human resources office. However, The Washington Post reports that it was unable to find any record of the complaint. 

Reade has called for the release of Biden’s senate records, which were donated to the University of Delaware and are sealed from the public. 

Members of Biden's campaign "rifled through" the documents on "at least one occasion," University of Delaware spokeswoman Andrea Boyle Tippett said in a statement to Business Insider. The campaign officials went to the university's library to search through the documents after Biden announced the launch of his campaign in April 2019 and returned to the university in March to conduct a subsequent search. 

“I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents," Reade told Fox News. "Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light. Why are they under seal? And why won't they be released to the public?"

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