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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 BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE sexually assaulted her in the Senate 27 years ago, a charge Biden has vehemently denied.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyLawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses LIVE COVERAGE: Senate trial moves to closing arguments MORE (D-Mass.), who is in the midst of a tough primary race against Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker Government spending bill to include bipartisan energy provisions 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 MerkleyEx-Capitol Police chief did not get FBI report warning of violence on Jan. 6 Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses 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 KaineOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden administration to give Congress full classified briefing on Syria strikes by next week Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence 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 WarrenExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm 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 ShaheenSenators press Treasury to prioritize Tubman redesign Can Palestine matter again? Senate signals broad support for more targeted coronavirus relief checks 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 KavanaughMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election MORE faced assault allegations during his confirmation hearings.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Democrats ask FBI for plans to address domestic extremism following Capitol attack 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 TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged 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 CornynBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip 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 GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report 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.