Joe Biden Responds to Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Accusation: ‘This Never Happened’ (Video)

Biden addressed the accusation for the first time Friday on MSNBC

Joe Biden on Friday flatly denied former senate staffer Tara Reade’s accusation of sexual assault and called on the National Archives to release any record of a 1993 complaint that Reade has said she filed related to her encounters with the then-senator.

“No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally that it never, ever happened,” the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate told Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

In a lengthy statement released just ahead of the interview, Biden also called on the National Archives to release any personnel records related to a complaint that Reade has said she filed in 1993 about an incident in which, she has said, Biden pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt and penetrated her with his finger — which he flatly denied.

“If that document exists, it would be stored at the National Archives,” he told Brzezinksi, adding that he had “never asked anyone to sign an NDA.”

Biden rejected a suggestion that he call for a search of Reade’s name in the sealed documents from his congressional and vice presidential career that are stored at the University of Delaware, insisting that no personnel records are housed there.

The former senator also addressed the question of whether he was treating Reade’s accusation differently than the women who came forward to accuse Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “I’m not going to question her motive … but I have a right to say, ‘Check out the facts,’” he said. “Believing women means taking their claims seriously. In the end, in every case, the truth is what matters.”

When asked what he might say to Reade if given the chance, Biden again offered a denial: “I don’t what is behind any of it. It’s irrelevant. It never happened. It never happened. Period.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took on the topic at length Wednesday night during his primetime show, being one of the first people on a major news broadcast network to broach the subject. He was subsequently both praised and torn apart online and his name trended on Twitter well into Thursday morning alongside calls to #FireChrisHayes.

Last year, Reade first told a local paper in Nevada County that Biden had inappropriately “put his hand on [her] shoulder and run his finger up [her] neck” when she worked in his Senate office. But in late March, Reade appeared on Katie Halper’s podcast to say that Biden, in 1993, had also pushed her up against a wall in a secluded area of the Capitol building, kissed her, reached under her skirt to penetrate her with his fingers, and then said “You’re nothing to me” after she pulled away.

A Biden campaign spokesperson said the accusations are “false” shortly after the release of the podcast episode last month. “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

While reporting and publishing on the accusations was initially slow, numerous outlets have been working to vet them and coverage has increased, especially after Reade’s first corroborator came forward earlier this week.

On Monday, Reade’s former neighbor said she told her about Biden’s alleged assault in the mid-’90s.

Speaking with Rich McHugh — the former NBC News producer who worked with Ronan Farrow on his Harvey Weinstein investigation — for a piece published Monday on Business Insider, Reade’s neighbor Lynda LaCasse said Reade had told her around 1995 or 1996 that Biden had “put her up against a wall,” “put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her.”