This morning for the first time Joe Biden was asked on camera whether he sexually assaulted former Senate staffer Tara Reade in 1993.
“I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened, and it didn’t. It never happened," he told Mika Brzezinski on "Morning Joe."
Why it matters: Biden faced growing pressure to personally respond to Reade’s allegations, with critics noting that he and other senior Democrats had previously stressed the importance of believing accusers.
That point has been seized upon by supporters of President Trump, who himself faces multiple accusations of sexual assault.
Between the lines: Brzezinski pushed Biden on why people should believe some women — like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of attempted assault — but not Reade.
Brzezinski: "Given the fact that you have said in the past that if a woman goes under the lights and talks about something like this, we have to consider that the essence of this is real. Is the essence of what [Reade] is saying real? Why do you think she’s doing this?"
Biden: "I’m not going to question her motive. ... She has a right to say whatever she wants to say, but I have a right to say look at the facts. Check it out. Find out whether any of what she says is asserted or true."
Brzezinski: "Why is it real for Dr. Ford but not for Tara Reade?"
Biden: "I’m not suggesting she had no right to come forward. ... They should be heard, and then it should be investigated. It should be investigated... but ultimately the truth matters."
What's next: Biden said he's requested a search for Reade’s alleged written complaint from 1993 to make it available to the public if it exists.
He denied making any staffer sign an NDA and also denied that any Reade complaint would be in his records at the University of Delaware.
"She said she filed a report with the only office that would have a report — with the United States Senate at the time. If the report was ever filed, it was filed there. Period."