Former Vice President Joe Biden gave his first public response Friday to a sexual allegation from a former staffer, emphatically denying any wrongdoing. Speaking with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, Biden rebuffed former staffer Tara Reade's claim that he had pinned her to a wall and digitally penetrated her without her consent in 1993. "It is not true," Biden stated, after Brzezinski detailed the allegation against him. "I'm saying unequivocally, it never happened."
Biden's appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe marks the first time he has publicly addressed Reade's claim, and comes after days of increased furor over his silence on the matter. Reade first detailed her story on the journalist Katie Halper's podcast over a month ago, but Biden had only denied the allegation through a spokeswoman.
Shortly before his interview, Biden's campaign released a statement from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in which he attempted to both emphasize his support for women who claim to be victims of sexual violence while simultaneously stressing his personal innocence.
"While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated," Biden said, after a lengthy preamble framing him as a leader in the fight against sexual violence.
"One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced," he continued. "The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."
In his statement, and again during his Morning Joe interview, Biden announced that he would be asking the secretary of the Senate to open his National Archive files from his time in the upper chamber, saying that any complaint filed by Reade against him would be found in those archives.
"If the report was ever filed, it was filed there," Biden said, after stressing that he would not be releasing a separate cache of his Senate files because, as he put it in his statement, "the papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files."
It's likely that Biden's statements Friday mark just the beginning of a new round of inquiries and investigations into Reade's allegations. And already, some voters are struggling with the prospect of voting against President Trump by casting their ballots for a different accused sexual predator.
Reade, for her part, continues to push for more opportunities to tell her story to the public.
"I used to think that a Republican talking point was to call the mainstream media biased,” Reade told BuzzFeed News. “So I used to think, Oh, that's just a talking point for them. I don't believe it. But now I'm living it [in] real time, and I see it — like, I see it for what it is. Because I am a Democrat, or I was. But now I'm not anything, really. I’m politically homeless."
You can watch Biden's full MSNBC interview below: