Biden denies sexual assault allegation: ‘This never happened’

CNN  — 

Joe Biden released a statement Friday denying a former aide’s claims he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, saying of Tara Reade’s allegation: “This never happened.”

Friday’s statement is the first detailed response from Biden to Reade’s allegation and comes as pressure built on the presumptive Democratic nominee to personally address the matter.

“While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny,” the former vice president and presumptive Democratic 2020 nominee said in the statement.

He continued, “Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.”

“But this much bears emphasizing,” he said. “She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one – not one – who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have.”

In the MSNBC interview, Biden said he is “saying unequivocally, it never, never happened. It didn’t. It never happened.”

He said he has not reached out to Reade, and does not remember her making any complaint.

“This never happened, and when she first made the claim, we made it clear that it never happened, and it’s as simple as that,” he said.

Allegation presents challenging balancing act