Biden: People 'shouldn't vote for me' if they believe sexual assault allegations

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE on Thursday said that Americans should “vote their heart” in November, saying that if they believe the sexual assault accusations made against him by former staffer Tara Reade, “they probably shouldn't vote for me.”

Biden, in an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, said that he doesn’t remember Reade but that women coming forward with claims of sexual harassment “should be taken seriously” and “should be thoroughly vetted.”

“And in every case, what matters is the truth. Truth is what matters. And the truth of the case is nothing like this ever, ever happened,” the former vice president said.

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“She has a right to be heard but then should be vetted, and the truth ultimately matters. And I give you my word, it never ever happened,” he continued.

Reade has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she worked in his Senate office.

A 1996 court document obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune shows that Reade told her ex-husband about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment in U.S. Senator Joe Biden's office.”

Reade says she filed a complaint with the Senate’s human resources department about Biden’s behavior at the time. That claim, however, has not yet been publicly verified.

O’Donnell asked Biden about what he would say to women who were “eager to vote for Joe Biden, but this gives them serious pause because they do believe Tara Reade."  

“Well, I think they should vote their heart,” Biden responded. “If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn't vote for me. I wouldn't vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”

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“The fact is that — look at Tara Reade’s story. It changes considerably. And so, but I don't want to question her motive. I don't want to question anything other than to say the truth matters,” he continued. “This is being vetted. It's been vetted. They went and people interviewed scores of my employees over my whole career.”

Reade has claimed that she told three of Biden’s senior aides about inappropriate touching at the time, including then-chief of staff Ted Kaufman, adviser Dennis Toner and Marianne Baker, an executive assistant. All three have denied that Reade confronted them about the issue.

Biden noted in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier this month that “news organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one — not one — who corroborated her allegations in any way.” 

Biden again denied the allegations on Thursday, saying that there’s “no truth” to them and that the allegations are “just totally, thoroughly, completely out of character.”

“It should be vetted. She should be thoroughly looked at and whether or not these happened, look at the story, follow the storyline and determine whether there’s any truth to it,” Biden said.