Bernie Sanders says sexual assault accusation against Biden is ‘relevant’

Bernie Sanders says sexual assault accusation against Biden is ‘relevant’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary and then endorsed presumptive party nominee Joe Biden, said Thursday morning that a sexual assault allegation that has been swirling around Biden’s candidacy for weeks is “relevant” and that the woman behind it “has the right” to have her claims heard.

Biden’s campaign has vehemently denied the allegation.

“I think it’s relevant and 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,” Sanders said on CBS’ “This Morning.” “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. I just don’t know enough about it to comment further.”

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 file photo, Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden, talk before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 file photo, Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden, talk before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Sanders’ comments were similar to statements made by some of the women on Biden’s vice-presidential shortlist when confronted by journalists asking about the allegations in live, on-air interviews this week.

“Well, I think women should be able to tell their stories,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an NPR interview Tuesday, while noting the importance of vetting the allegations. She said “it’s hard to give you greater insight than that, not knowing more about the situation.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on her endorsement of Biden Wednesday, noted that the “allegations are being aired publicly” while saying that she wanted to avoid commenting further until she had read more into the story.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally Monday, March 2, 2020 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally Monday, March 2, 2020 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar touted “thorough” stories done by media organizations in her own NPR interview Tuesday while also touting Biden’s past legislative work on behalf of women.

Fox News this week sent requests for comment on the Biden sexual assault allegations to 16 of the women who have been speculated about as potential running mates for Biden and none of them responded.

Biden has been accused of sexual assault by a woman named Tara Reade, who was a staff assistant to Biden when he was a senator. Reade came forward early last year to say that Biden inappropriately touched her — as multiple women did around that time — but didn’t get much publicity for her story outside of a local newspaper article.

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But late last month Reade gave a very different and more graphic account of her interaction with Biden, which allegedly occurred in 1993, that raised the level of the allegation to sexual assault. Reade’s story first resurfaced in an article in The Intercept. She then was interviewed by podcast host Katie Halper, to whom she detailed the alleged assault, including saying that Biden “penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”

The Biden campaign, as well as a former Senate staff aide, have rejected the allegation.

“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,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement on Reade’s accusation.

“In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” Marianne Baker, who worked for Biden’s Senate office as an executive assistant from 1982 to 2000, said. “I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager. These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.”

Fox News’ Andrew Craft and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

Tyler Olson covers politics for FoxNews.com. You can contact him at tyler.olson@foxnews.com and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.

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