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Nine U.S. senators who have gotten buzz as potential picks to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate were in the Senate in 2018 when Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh‘s confirmation process was roiled by accusations of sexual assault.
They did not hold back in their condemnation of the court pick and in their calls for the accusers’ claims to be fully investigated. Now, Biden’s presidential campaign also is grappling with a developing accusation of sexual assault from the 1990s — which aides have adamantly denied. But most of those same senators have not commented on this allegation, or have downplayed it.
A woman named Tara Reade previously had accused Biden of inappropriate touching last year before her story resurfaced in an article in The Intercept on March 24. Podcast host Katie Halper then interviewed Reade, which is when she made the more serious allegation that Biden “penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”
Biden himself has not addressed the Reade allegations but his deputy campaign manager has issued a statement.
“What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen,” Kate Bedingfield said.
Reade previously vocally supported Biden’s primary opponent Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Reade’s story has been further supported since her initial interview with Halper, with The New York Times reporting that two of her friends remembered her speaking about the alleged incident. Further, a video resurfaced last week of a woman Reade claims is her mom calling in to “Larry King Live” in 1993 and alluding to her daughter’s “problems” working for a prominent senator. The woman on the call never explicitly spoke about sexual assault and never used Biden’s name. (Senate aides, however, reportedly have either denied the account or said they don’t recall Reade’s complaint.)
Here’s what the senators who voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018 had to say then, and what they have to say about the allegation against Biden now.
2018: “Republicans want to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and they will ignore, suppress, or shout down any inconvenient facts that might give the American people pause about this nomination. Republicans are playing politics with the Supreme Court, and they are willing to step on anyone — including the victim of a vicious sexual assault — in order to advance their agenda.” – Oct. 4, 2018, in a floor speech opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: Fox News has reached out to Warren for comment multiple times on the Tara Reade allegations, including on Wednesday. She has not responded. Fox News was also unable to find any public comments from Warren on the Reade allegation, which broke more than a month ago.
2018: “She was so graceful and so dignified, went through every question you could imagine… What she was doing was basically laying out the fact that you have so well articulated during the show, is that she actually has talked about this in the past, she said it to a therapist, her husband had remembered the name Brett Kavanaugh, she has with some detail remembered the assault. And all she’s asked is that the FBI figure out when Mark Judge was working at this Safeway when she saw him later because that would help her get the exact date.” – Sept. 27, 2018 to MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow
2020: “[I]n this case — and your listeners should look at the story — there was a thorough review by The New York Times. And I think that’s very important to have, especially involving public figures. But I think when I look at — when I see Vice President Biden, someone I worked with, I see him on — a leader on domestic abuse — led the bill before people were even willing to talk about those horrific crimes and has really been a champion of abuses of power against women and has used his voice on the domestic abuse front in such a big way.” – April 14, 2020 to NPR
Fox News reached out to Klobuchar for comment after the “Larry King Live” video resurfaced, which occurred after the interview with NPR, but did not receive a response.
2018: “Ours was not a search to determine whether a crime occurred. Ours was not a search to determine whether we had enough facts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred. No, ours was an investigation to figure out enough about what happened to determine if Brett Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the highest court in our land. Is he fit to be a jurist in the place where we have said justice in our country occurs? In the house where we listen to evidence and truth and make determinations based on the veracity and truthfulness of what has occurred. That is our role when it comes to Dr. Ford’s allegations, and we fell short. We fell short. We did not do her justice. We did not do the American people justice.” – Oct. 5, 2018, in a floor speech opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: “First of all, I have spent the bulk of my career fighting against abuse of women and children and for empowerment of women and children and all people. Listen, this woman has a right to tell her story and I believe that and I believe Joe Biden believes that, too. I’ve spent my whole career fighting like you said, Joe, to give women a voice and this brings up I think a bigger structural issue frankly, which is that women must be able to speak without fear of retaliation. And I can only — on the issue of Joe I mean I can only speak to the Joe Biden I know. He’s been a lifelong fighter in terms of stopping violence against women. He’s been the leader, I think really most people would agree, in the United States Senate on VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act. So, you know, as I said she has a right to tell her story and she shouldn’t face any repercussions for that, but the Joe Biden I know is somebody that really has fought for women and empowerment of women and women’s equality and rights.” — April 17, 2020 to the “It’s All Political” podcast by San Francisco Chronicle
Fox News reached out to Harris for comment after the “Larry King Live” video resurfaced, which occurred after her interview with “It’s All Political,” but did not receive a response.
2018: “I believe Dr. Blasey Ford. Here’s why I believe her: She’s risked everything – her own safety – to come out on the record to say Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. She told her therapist and her husband about it five years ago. She told a friend about it a year ago. She told a reporter about it before Kavanaugh was ever named. She’s even taken a lie detector test. So why are my colleagues moving so fast – as fast as they possibly can – to confirm this judge?” – Sept. 26, 2018 floor speech opposing Kavanaugh confirmation
2020: “So when we say believe women, it’s for this explicit intention of making sure there’s space for all women to come forward to speak their truth, to be heard. And in this allegation, that is what Tara Reade has done. She has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets. Those investigations, Vice President Biden has called for himself. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations and I support Vice President Biden,” Gillibrand said before a reporter asked if there was a “contradiction” between how Democrats have handled the Biden allegations and the Kavanaugh allegations. “No, and I stand by Vice President Biden. He has devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation.” – April 28, 2020, according to The Hill
2018: “I have read Dr. Ford’s letter and I find the allegations deeply disturbing, serious and credible. There should be no vote on this lifetime nomination for our highest court until this matter is fully investigated and Dr. Ford and the nominee appear before the Senate Judiciary Cmte.” – Sept. 17, 2018, on Twitter
2020: “The allegations are being aired publicly… There’s a statement that Joe Biden and his team have put out and there is a report, I believe in The New York Times, indicating that there’s no corroboration. … I would feel more comfortable had I read every word of the article before commenting at greater length.” – April 15, 2020, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Fox News reached out to Baldwin for comment after the “Larry King Live” video resurfaced, which occurred after her interview with the Journal Sentinel, but did not receive a response.
2018: “Dr. Ford spent her time talking about the laughter she still hears ringing in her ears from that night: the night that an older, stronger, drunker boy forced her to learn what it was like to feel helpless. Her voice quivered. But she herself never wavered. Steadfast in the truth—in the memory of those few moments that changed her life forever. Judge Kavanaugh, meanwhile, spent his time interrupting and attacking the committee members. Shouting over senators and dressing them down—appearing belligerent and outraged that anyone would dare keep him from getting what he feels entitled to.” – Oct. 4, 2018, in a floor speech opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: Fox News has reached out to Duckworth for comment multiple times on the Tara Reade allegations, including on Wednesday. She has not responded. Fox News was also unable to find any public comments from Duckworth on the Reade allegation, which broke more than a month ago.
2018: “Her [Dr. Ford’s] testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee was sincere and credible, and I believe her… Dr. Ford’s bravery has given so many women in this country the courage to tell their stories. She gave others courage and we have seen an outpouring from survivors who now feel like they too can come forward… These wounds are real. The wounds are raw. And it is incumbent on all of us in this body, regardless of where you stand on Brett Kavanaugh; it’s incumbent on all of us to not deepen those scars by diminishing the pain of these women as political theatre. This is not political theater, and it should not be viewed through a partisan lens.” – Oct. 6, 2018, floor speech opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: Fox News has reached out to Shaheen for comment multiple times on the Tara Reade allegations, including on Wednesday. She has not responded. Fox News was also unable to find any public comments from Shaheen on the Reade allegation.
Catherine Cortez Masto
2018: “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had nothing to gain by coming forward. She told her story out of a sense of civic duty. She has done a profound public service to survivors. I am thankful for her courage and patriotism, and I believe her. By rushing this nomination process, Republicans have made a mockery of the Senate’s advice and consent role and dealt a major blow to the independence of the judiciary.” – Oct. 6, 2018 statement on Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: Fox News has reached out to Cortez Masto for comment multiple times on the Tara Reade allegations, including on Wednesday. She has not responded. Fox News was also unable to find any public comments from Cortez Masto on the Reade allegation.
2018: “When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s serious and credible allegations came to light, we saw a truly disturbing scene from both Judge Kavanaugh and my colleagues on the other side of this aisle… And while many of my colleagues in the majority praised Dr. Ford’s bravery in sharing her story, and even agreed that her testimony was credible, they blocked any serious professional attempt to get to the facts… I too will note that I watched and listened to Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony. I considered the additional evidence that would have particular weight in a court of law of her corroborating statements well prior to any suggestion that Brett Kavanaugh would be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. And I compared her testimony to that of Judge Kavanaugh. And I believe that of Dr. Blasey Ford.” – Oct. 6, 2018, floor speech opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation
2020: Fox News has reached out to Hassan for comment multiple times on the Tara Reade allegations, including on Wednesday. She has not responded. Fox News was also unable to find any public comments from Hassan on the Reade allegation.
All of these Democratic senators voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018.