Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid, said Thursday that an allegation of sexual assault against the former VP is “relevant.”
During an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Sanders was asked about his endorsement of Biden when the conversation shifted toward a former Senate staffer who has accused the former vice president of sexually assaulting her in 1993.
“One of your most important allies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said recently that she thinks it’s legitimate and relevant to talk about sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. Do you agree?” CBS anchor Tony Dokoupil asked Sanders.
“I think it’s relevant to talk about anything. And I think any woman who feels that she was assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims,” the senator responded.
Dokoupil then attempted to ask a follow-up question, but was cut off by Sanders.
“I think that she has the right to make her claims and get a public hearing, and the public will make their own conclusions about it,” Sanders said.
Bernie Sanders has made his first public statement about Tara Reade and says he wants a public hearing.
— #BernThePrimary??✡️ (@DavidAgStone) April 16, 2020
“I just don’t know enough about it to comment further,” he added.
Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8.
The move was a result of Biden’s stunning run of success over Sanders in states across the country, which began on Super Tuesday last month.
Sanders endorsed Biden’s presidential bid Monday during a livestreamed conversation with the former vice president.
“Today I am asking all Americans — I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans — to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse,” Sanders said.
#BREAKING: Sen. Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden: “Today I am asking all Americans — I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans – to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy which I endorse.” pic.twitter.com/Ty1r9ligJx
— The Hill (@thehill) April 13, 2020
While Biden has consolidated support among Democrats and is now the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, the sexual assault allegation against him is hanging over the campaign.
Tara Reade, a staffer for Biden when he was in the Senate, has accused him of sexually assaulting her while the two were alone in 1993.
Reade, who worked for Biden from 1992 to 1993, said during a recent podcast interview that Biden had kissed, groped and penetrated her with his fingers during the alleged unwanted sexual advance.
The woman filed a criminal complaint with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department last week, Business Insider reported.
Reade’s accusation is especially complicated for Democrats, as Biden and other high-level party members have previously said there is a need to treat all accusations of sexual impropriety with credibility in the era of the #MeToo movement.
Last month, Biden’s campaign asked the reporters to “rigorously vet” Reade.
“Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims,” Biden campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said.
“We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” she added.
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