Biden: Presume the 'essence' of sexual assault accusations are 'real'

Biden: Presume the 'essence' of sexual assault accusations are 'real'
© Greg Nash

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE on Monday night said people should presume the "essence" of sexual assault allegations brought by women in the national spotlight are "real." 

"For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time," Biden told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

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"But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron," he added.

Biden, a possible 2020 presidential contender, was reportedly fielding questions about the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are set to testify next week. 

Biden, who presided over the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, has been criticized for failing to defend Anita Hill, the woman who publicly testified that Thomas sexually harassed her. 

Biden on Monday said he has always believed Hill, the Post reported. He ultimately voted not to confirm Thomas.

"Oh, I thought she was telling the truth at the beginning," Biden said. "I really did." 

Critics have said Biden did not do enough to de-escalate senators' questioning of Hill, which was famously rough and sometimes personal.

"The one regret I have is I wish there had been a way I could’ve controlled the questions," Biden said, according to the newspaper. "But you can’t in a committee. Remember, when they went after the last victim [Hill], I kept trying to gavel, but there was no way to say, ‘You can’t ask that question.’ ”

Biden also said the accusation against Kavanaugh is reminiscent of Hill's allegation, which also came late in the confirmation process and evoked enormous pushback.

Biden said Ford's accusation "brings back all of the complicated issues that were there" during Hill's hearing decades ago, the Post reported.

Ford is alleging Kavanaugh held her down on a bed and groped her during a party in the 1980s, when the two were students at D.C.-area high schools. He has denied the allegation.