A sexual assault allegation by a former aide is casting a shadow on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, leaving some Democrats defending the party’s presumptive nominee and prompting Republican attacks.
Tara Reade, Biden’s former Senate staffer, has accused the former vice president of sexually assaulting her on Capitol Hill in 1993, a claim that gained fresh attention this week after an associate of Reade’s came forward to say Reade had told her about the alleged assault at the time.
Biden’s campaign has denied the allegation, though the 77-year-old political veteran has not addressed the issue himself.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she was “satisfied” with how Biden had responded, while acknowledging that “it’s a matter that he has to deal with.”
Pelosi told broadcaster CNN that she had “great sympathy for any women who bring forth an allegation,” but noted that people working with Biden in the 1990s had never heard of such a claim.
Other Democrats who have come to his defence include Stacey Abrams, a potential running mate for Biden.
“I think he’s telling the truth and this did not happen,” Abrams told CNN, pointing to a New York Times investigation she said exonerated him.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has claimed a double standard in the way Democrats and the media have confronted Reade’s allegation compared to accusations against conservatives.
McConnell told Fox News on Thursday that Biden will “have to participate in releasing all of the information related to the allegations,” though he not made the same request of President Donald Trump, who has faced more than a dozen sexual assault allegations.
President Trump was asked to weigh in on the accusation on Thursday and remained uncharacteristically reserved toward his chief political rival.
“It could be false accusations, I know all about false accusations,” said Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 17 women and was heard on tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia.