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DNC Chair Likens Pursuit Of Biden’s Records To Clinton Email Scandal

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez addressed the sexual assault allegation against former vice president Joe Biden on Sunday, defending the party’s presumptive nominee in an appearance on ABC’s This Week and comparing the pursuit of additional records to a controversy that dogged the party’s 2016 nominee. “This is like the Hillary emails, because there was nothing there,” Perez said, referencing the criticism former secretary of state Hillary Clinton drew by using a private email server. That scandal, coupled with the hacking of Democratic emails, dominated coverage of her presidential run.

This past week, Biden has faced increasing scrutiny over a 27-year-old allegation from former aide Tara Reade. Following pressure from many in his own party, Biden directly addressed the assault allegation on Friday in a written statement and later in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during which he strongly denied the accusation. Reade claimed in a March podcast interview that Biden assaulted her in the basement of a Capitol Hill complex in 1993, when she was working for his Senate office. In the written statement, Biden called on the Secretary of the Senate to release any record of the complaint that Reade claimed to have filed at the time of the incident, stating that “if there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.” When asked about the existence of such a record on Morning Joe, he told host Mika Brzezinski that he is “confident there’s nothing.”

Biden suggested that the personnel records of former employees would not be with his University of Delaware records, a not-yet-public collection he gifted the school that covers his more than three decades in the Senate. As CNN reports, there have been calls for the records’ release since Reade’s allegation, which Biden himself addressed during his MSNBC appearance. He has declined to provide unfettered access to the personal papers, which he said could become “fodder” against him in the presidential campaign.

On Friday, the New York Times editorial board proposed that the DNC put together an unbiased, apolitical panel” to examine Biden’s Senate papers—an idea that DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa dismissed as “an absurd suggestion on its face.” In response to the suggestion, Hinojosa said that “regardless of whether it’s the job of DNC to do this kind of thing,” Biden has already gone through “a vetting process like no other,” an argument Perez echoed in his Sunday appearance. “The most comprehensive investigation of the vice president was when he was vetted by Barack Obama in 2008,” Perez said, adding that “if Barack Obama had any indication that there was an issue, Barack Obama would not have had him as his vice president.”

Reade did not appear on Fox News Sunday, despite reports that she was considering doing so. Still, the allegations were discussed across the Sunday shows. On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has said she believes Biden, and is believed to be on his Vice President shortlist, about her reaction, given that she believed Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct accusation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. “Blasey Ford, to be honest, did not have the contemporaneous accounts of her view of what happened that Tara Reade does,” Tapper noted.

“I know Joe Biden and I’ve watched his defense,” Whitmer said, adding that she’s “very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is.” Whitmer, who has spoken publicly about her experience with sexual assault, said that “we need to give people an opportunity to tell their story, but then we have the duty to vet it. Just because you’re a survivor doesn’t mean that every claim is equal.”

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