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Joe Biden Denies Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation

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  • Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, has denied the sexual assault allegation made against him by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade.
  • In a Medium post and appearance on MSNBC Friday, Biden said the alleged 1993 assault “never happened.”
  • Though he said women should be heard, he argued that their claims should then be subject to “appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.
  • He also called for the National Archives to release any documents related to Reade’s alleged complaint, arguing that no personnel files would be found in his Senate papers at the University of Delaware. 


Biden Denies Claim in Medium Post 

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a statement Friday denying the accusations of sexual assault made against him by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade. 

“I recognize my responsibility to be a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished,” Biden wrote in a Medium post after laying out his history of supporting women and work for the Violence Against Women’s Act.

“So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago. They aren’t true. This never happened.”

The statement marks Biden’s first public response to the accusation that has muddied his presidential campaign. Reade accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993 when he was a senator from Delaware. More specifically, she said he pushed her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers. 

She first made her allegation public in a March 25 interview with podcast host Katie Halper. Reade’s brother and two anonymous friends have all confirmed to media outlets that she previously spoke to them about the alleged assault. But in recent days, new details have emerged surrounding the allegation, like an account from Reade’s former neighbor Lynda LaCasse. 

LaCasse said that in 1995 or 1996, Reade confided in her about the assault. The Intercept also located a tape of a woman who appears to be Reade’s mother calling CNN’s Larry King Live in 1993 to say that her daughter had experienced “problems” with the senator.

With this information, activists have been pushing even harder for Biden to issue a response.  

“While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny,” he continued in his statement. 

Former VP calls on National Archives to Release Documents 

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, pointed to what he called “a growing record of inconsistencies in her story” and said responsible news outlets should examine and evaluate that. Specifically, he pointed to Reade’s claim that said raised her complaint with her supervisor and senior staffers at the time.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC News all released expensive reports after looking into the allegations. In them, they also noted that multiple Biden staffers said they had never seen or heard of the complaint Reade said she filed. 

“News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one — not one — who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way — as indeed I would not have,” Biden wrote. 

But as the scrutiny around Biden grows, so have calls for him to release his Senate papers, which are held at the University of Deleware and were sealed until after he leaves public life. 

Reade has suggested that record of her complaint and documents related to her allegation might be there. However, in his statement, Biden said those papers “do no contain personnel files.”

Instead, he said, “There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives.

“The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”

Biden Appears on MSNBC 

Shortly after publishing his written statement, Biden also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe where he again denied Reade’s claim.

“No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened,” he said to speak to the show’s co-host Mika Brzezinski. 

He again added that women have a right to be heard when they come forward with allegations, then facts need to be examined. However, Biden remained firm when shutting down the claims. “I assure you it did not happen. Period. Period.”

Brzezinski repeatedly pressed Biden about why he wouldn’t allow for a search of any documents related to Reade at the University of Delaware. He responded several times by saying that no such files would be there, claiming again that no personnel files were housed at the university.

After Reade first came forward, Biden’s campaign argued that her claim was false, but Biden himself has remained quiet on the matter until now. 

Despite his silence and the fact that several people have corroborated part of Reade’s claims, saying they remember her sharing elements of the story years ago, Democrats have sided with Biden. This includes the likes of Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, as well as former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also threw her support behind the former vice president Thursday, telling reporters, “I want to remove all doubt in anyone’s mind: I have a great comfort level with the situation as I see it, with all due respect in the world for any woman who comes forward, with all the highest regard for Joe Biden.” 

“There is a lot of excitement around the idea that women will be heard and be listened to,” she said, expressing “complete respect” for the #MeToo movement. “There is also due process, and the fact that Joe Biden is Joe Biden.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have hit both Biden and his fellow Democrats with sharp criticism over the allegations, suggesting that their behavior is hypocritical since they put much heavier pressure of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was accused of sexual assault. 

President Donald Trump also chimed in on the issue Thursday, saying, “I think he should respond,” but also adding, “It could be false accusations.”

Trump himself has faced allegations of sexual assault and harassment by more than 20 women and was even caught on a recording bragging about inappropriately grabbing a woman without consent. 

In his statement, Biden tried to draw a clear distinction between himself and the president, writing, “We have lived long enough with a president who doesn’t think he is accountable to anyone, and takes responsibility for nothing.”

That’s not me. I believe being accountable means having the difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable. People need to hear the truth.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Vox) (Fox News)

Politics

Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena

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The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.


Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.

In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.

Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.

Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee. 

That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.

After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.

Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.

Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts

The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.

It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same. 

The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively —  are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.

Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.

As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.  

Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)

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Politics

Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December

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The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.


Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily

The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.

The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.

After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.

The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday. 

The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.

“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.

The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession. 

Major Hurdles Remain

While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.

Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain. 

Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.

Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.

Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.

Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.

Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.

In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul. 

As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported. 

It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent

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California is now the eighth state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent after it temporarily adopted the policy for elections held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 


CA Approves Universal Voting by Mail

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Monday requiring every registered voter in the state to be mailed a ballot at least 29 days before an election, whether they request it or not.

Assembly Bill 37 makes permanent a practice that was temporarily adopted for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which officially takes effect in January, also extends the time mail ballots have to arrive at elections offices from three days to seven days after an election. Voters can still choose to cast their vote in person if they prefer.

Supporters of the policy have cheered the move, arguing that proactively sending ballots to registered voters increases turnout.

“Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), said during a Senate committee hearing in July.

Meanwhile opponents — mostly Republicans — have long cast doubts about the safety of mail-in voting, despite a lack of evidence to support their claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. That strategy, however, has also faced notable pushback from some that a lot of Republicans who say it can actually hurt GOP turnout.

Others May Follow

The new legislation probably isn’t too surprising for California, where over 50% of votes cast in general elections have been through mail ballots since 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, many believe California will be followed by similar legislation from Democrats across the country as more Republican leaders move forward with elections bills that significantly limit voting access.

Newsome signed 10 other measures Monday changing election and campaign procedures, including a bill that would require anyone advocating for or against a candidate to stand farther away from a polling place. Another bill increases penalties for candidates who use campaign funds for personal expenses while a third measure increases reporting requirements for limited liability corporations that engage in campaign activity.

“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.

“Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”

The news regarding California came just in time for National Voter Registration day today, giving Americans another reminder to make sure they’re registered in their states. For more information on how to register, visit Vote.gov or any of the other resources linked below.

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Los Angeles Times) (The Sacramento Bee)

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