- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday that the sexual assault allegation against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden is a “messy moment” for her party.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who said she will vote for Mr. Biden but has declined to endorse him, acknowledged during an interview with NPR that there is some credibility to the claim by Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who accused the then-senator of pinning her against a wall and digitally penetrating her without her consent in his office in 1993.

At least six people have corroborated parts of Ms. Reade’s story since she first spoke out on March 25. Mr. Biden, who didn’t personally address the claim until May 1, has denied anything ever happened with Ms. Reade.

“There have been investigative journalists that have corroborated certain aspects of her account — that is undeniable — [and] have raised questions about other aspects of her account,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez told NPR.

The New York Democratic socialist said she’s concerned that the Democrats’ rush to defend Mr. Biden could hurt their credibility and potentially alienate victims of sexual violence.

“It certainly seems as though something has happened. I’m not sure,” she said, later adding, “Frankly, this is a messy moment, and I think we need to acknowledge that — that it is not clear-cut.”

“Instead of focusing on her account, instead of focusing on her story as a survivor, people are fast-forwarding to the political implications,” she said. “‘Do you want Trump to win? Will you be voting for Joe Biden?’ And that denies justice in this situation.”

Asked what that justice should look like, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she’d look to what the alleged victim wants.

“If anything, it sounds like she simply wants to be heard,” she said of Ms. Reade. “It seems as though she does not feel she’s been heard yet.”

The congresswoman’s comments Thursday came just before Ms. Reade said during an interview with Megyn Kelly that she wants Mr. Biden to drop out of the 2020 presidential race, and that she is willing to take a polygraph test if the former vice president takes one, too.

On Thursday, responding to her call for him to drop out, Mr. Biden said, “Believing women means taking a woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward, and then vetting it, looking into it. And that’s true. That’s true in this case, too. Women have a right to be heard and the press should rigorously investigate claims like these. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is, these claims are flat-out false.”

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