Joe Biden to break his silence on Tara Reade's sexual assault claim Friday

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The presumptive nominee has come under pressure to address the allegation from fellow Democrats and progressive activists

Joe Biden will publicly address for the first time a sexual assault claim against him during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday morning, after weeks of silence on the subject.

Biden, the presumptive nominee, will “respond for the first time to the recent allegation of sexual assault”, the network announced in a tweet on Thursday.

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World news | The Guardian

Joe Biden will publicly address for the first time a sexual assault claim against him during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday morning, after weeks of silence on the subject.

Biden, the presumptive nominee, will “respond for the first time to the recent allegation of sexual assault”, the network announced in a tweet on Thursday.

Tara Reade came forward last month to accuse Biden of sexually assaulting her in the basement of Capitol Hill office building when she worked in his Senate office in the spring of 1993. Biden’s campaign has forcefully denied the allegation, but the candidate has not commented personally.

Biden’s interview on Morning Joe, a cable news talk show, comes after new evidence emerged this week corroborating aspects of Reade’s story, which has escalated along partisan lines.

In recent days, Biden has faced mounting calls from some Democrats to make a public statement, even as the party’s leadership stands behind him. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker on Thursday stressed her support for Biden’s nomination while Republicans seized the opportunity to attack Biden and his record ahead of a general election against Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than a dozen women, all of which he has denied.

The issue has forced Democrats into an increasingly uncomfortable position as they grapple with how to respond in a way that is consistent with their support for the #MeToo movement. The party’s leadership has so far supported Biden, defending his character and pointing to his legislative record on sexual violence policy.

Already, top female surrogates and allies, including potential vice presidential candidates such as Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Stacey Abrams, have been asked whether they stand by him. Yet he has not been asked about it in the dozens of television interviews, virtual town halls or donor events he’s participated in.

Some progressive activists have called on Biden to step down as the party nominee while advocates for victims of sexual assault have been disappointed by the handling of Reade’s claim by Biden’s campaign and the press.

The issue was not raised on Thursday during an Instagram live event with soccer star Megan Rapinoe, a prominent advocate of equal pay and gender equality. Yet several viewers posted comments during the livestream urging Rapinoe to ask Biden about the allegation.

On Thursday, Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in American politics, sought to dispel any concern about Biden’s candidacy.

“I want to remove all doubt in anyone’s mind: I have a great comfort level with the situation as I see it, with all due respect in the world for any woman who comes forward, with all the highest regard for Joe Biden,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, adding that she had “complete respect” for the #MeToo movement.

“There is also due process,” Pelosi said. “And the fact that Joe Biden is Joe Biden.”

Republicans seized on the remark to accuse Pelosi and the party more broadly of hypocrisy on issues of sexual assault and harassment. They compared her response to the allegation against Biden to the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh during his supreme court confirmation hearing.

“She’s being a hypocrite,” said Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader. “You can’t say one thing about every other time she has commented about any other accusation, and now say this is different.”

In an interview with Fox News, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said Biden should release his Senate papers to shed more light on the allegation, though he has not made a similar appeal for information related to the charges against Trump.

The president also weighed in on the allegation on Thursday, calling on Biden to respond while conceding that the claim could be “false”.

“I know all about false accusations,” he said. “I have been falsely charged numerous times and there is such a thing.”

Still, Trump’s campaign has made clear they intend to use Reade’s claim to undercut Biden, who has made character a central theme of his campaign against Trump. A Trump campaign memo published on Wednesday highlighted Biden’s response to Reade’s claim and accused him of “misrepresenting news reports and his own past positions in an effort to put controversies to bed or to level charges against the president”.


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