Some Democrats say charges against Biden merit independent investigation

Some Democrats say charges against Biden merit independent investigation
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A few Senate Democrats are saying there needs to be more investigation of former aide Tara Reade’s accusation that Joe BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE sexually assaulted her in the Senate 27 years ago, a charge Biden has vehemently denied.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Mass.), who is in the midst of a tough primary race against Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE III (D-Mass.), said Monday that there needs to be an “independent” investigation.

“We need an investigation that has independence that will then ensure that the facts are established,” Markey said on his way to a late afternoon confirmation vote in the Capitol.

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“It should be independent,” he added.

Markey said he hadn’t yet thought about who should conduct the investigation but said Biden himself “has called for it, and I think he’s right to do it.”

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Bipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games MORE (D-Ore.) also called for an independent review of the charges.

“I think it’s important to have appropriate independent scrutiny brought to bear to help inform all of us about the situation,” he said. Like Markey, he hasn’t give much thought about who should conduct the probe.

“It’s a good question ... because we’re not in a situation where there’s a member of the Senate or a member of the administration” facing charges, Merkley noted.

Reade in mid-March claimed that Biden pushed her against a wall and assaulted her in 1993.

Biden declared that “it never, never happened” during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday, his first media interview on the subject.

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The former vice president, who served in the Senate from 1973 to 2009, last week asked Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams to make public any record that might exist of a complaint Reade said she filed. Adams replied on Monday that Senate rules and current law prohibit her from making public any information related to a workplace complaint or harassment claim.

In a statement released Monday morning, the secretary of the Senate said that “strict confidentiality requirements” in the law allow for “no discretion to disclose any such information” requested by Biden related to Reade’s accusations.  

The statement cited a review by the Senate legal counsel of the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, two laws that govern the records of the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices.

Another Democrat, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineGOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan MORE (Va.), on Monday said the rules must be changed to allow the complaint, if it exists, to be reviewed.

“I want to get all the Senate records and see if there was ever a complaint filed,” Kaine said. “I think that’s the first question: Was there ever a complaint filed?”

“If there was, who would have it? We’ve got to get it at some point,” he added.

Kaine said if the law bars the disclosure of Reade’s complaint, “it should be changed.”

“I think the American public needs to know was a complaint ever filed,” he said. “I’m certainly going to figure out a way, talking to colleagues, to try to make that happen.

“The vice president wants it out there,” he noted.

Asked about bringing in the FBI, Kaine said, “Let’s start with a stated fact: ‘I filed a complaint against the senator.’ Let’s find out if that’s true. That’s the single most probative fact that we can get at right now,” he said.

Several Democrats last week offered support for Biden without suggesting the need for a further investigation.

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (D-Mass.) demurred when asked about the need for an additional investigation.

“I think what the vice president has said is convincing, and I support him,” Warren told reporters Monday.

Asked specifically about the need for additional investigation, Warren repeated, “What he said is convincing.”

Democratic senators note that The New York Times and other media outlets investigated Reade’s claims and failed to find any Senate co-worker who would corroborate her story.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (D-N.H.) said “it has been investigated by both The Washington Post and New York Times.”

Shaheen said that “it’s appropriate” to make the record of Reade’s complaint public “if it exists” and Reade is “willing to have it released.”

Many Democrats don’t see a need for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies to investigate the allegation, something they and a few moderate GOP senators insisted on when Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughAn obscure Supreme Court ruling is a cautionary tale of federal power Murkowski leans into record ahead of potentially bruising reelection bid Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE faced assault allegations during his confirmation hearings.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (Ill.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, pointed out that Biden denied the charge and asked for the Senate’s personnel records to be opened to shed further light on the matter.

“I don’t know what the next step would be beyond that,” he said.

Asked about the FBI investigating the alleged incident, Durbin said, “I don’t know when the FBI has a responsibility to step in.”

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He acknowledged that “it’s a hard call.”

Durbin pointed out the FBI hasn’t investigated sexual assault charges level against President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE by various women, such as E. Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist for Elle magazine who says the president sexually assaulted her in a dressing room 20 years ago.

Trump’s other accusers include a woman who attended a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago nearly 20 years ago and a participant in the 2006 Miss Universe pageant.

Republicans on Monday accused their Democratic colleagues of applying a double standard for Biden after raising ferocious opposition to Kavanaugh in the last Congress.

“What is so appalling is the double standard and the way Democrats have by and large been silent about the allegations,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary panel who participated in Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation hearings.

“I still remember where they thought due process was a joke that didn’t apply to Brett Kavanaugh, but somehow they think now that due process should be applied to Joe Biden,” he added.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (R-S.C.) said he would support changing the Senate rules or the law to allow Reade’s complaint to be made public if it exists.

“In this kind of case, I would,” he said.