NEW YORK - The New York Times on Saturday called for the Democratic National Committee to investigate the sexual assault claims against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden -- a day after he denied the allegations for the first time.
“As is so often the case in such situations, it is all but impossible to be certain of the truth. But the stakes are too high to let the matter fester — or leave it to be investigated by and adjudicated in the media. Mr. Biden is seeking the nation’s highest office,” a column by the Times’ Editorial Board said.
The call came a day after Biden answered allegations by former staffer Tara Reade that he assaulted her in 1993. The response came in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and in a written statement.
“No, it is not true,” Biden said. “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn’t. It never happened.”
He also authorized a request for any relevant records in the National Archives while declining to OK a search for records at the University of Delaware, saying that those files would not pertain to personnel issues.
But who has the National Archive records and who controls them turned out to be a murky issue, with the Archives responding that the Senate technically has “control” of any such files from 1993, the year in question. Biden has since written to Julie E. Adams, the Secretary of the Senate, asking her to address the possible discrepancy.
Reade has accused Biden of cornering her in a Senate office and assaulting her in 1993. Her story has changed over time. Reade and seven other women had come forward last year to accuse Biden of inappropriate contact. However, the story she told in March was far more graphic, raising the allegation to the level of sexual assault.
“I don’t know why she’s saying this, I don’t know why after 27 years, all of a sudden this gets raised, but I’m not going to question her motives, I’m not going to attack her,” Biden said. “She has a right to say whatever she wants to say, but I’m going to say look at the facts.”
Biden also fought off accusations that he is engaging in a double-standard, compared to the stance he took during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- where he called for Kavanaugh accusers to be believed.
Biden said that “believing women means taking women’s claims seriously." He added that “women have a right to be heard,” but that their claims should be investigated by the press.
“They should start off with the presumption that they’re telling the truth,” Biden said Friday. “Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts. And the facts in this case do not exist.”
The Times referred to the Kavanaugh confirmation battle as it called for the DNC to investigate Biden.
“Last year, this board advocated strongly for a vigorous inquiry into accusations of sexual misconduct raised against Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden’s pursuit of the presidency requires no less,” the board said. “His campaign, and his party, have a duty to assure the public that the accusations are being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee should move to investigate the matter swiftly and thoroughly, with the full cooperation of the Biden campaign.”
The Times argued that for the probe to be a “serious inquiry,” it must include a search through the records in the University of Delaware: “No relevant memo should be left unexamined.”
“Any inventory should be strictly limited to information about Ms. Reade and conducted by an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C. and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible,” the board said.
The call comes days after The Washington Post’s editorial board made a similar call before Biden made his remarks on the accusation -- demanding too that the documents in Delaware be made available.
“Demands for the release of the entire trove invite a worthwhile debate about candidate disclosures, yet that’s not a battle that needs to be fought today,” the Post argued. “The narrower question is whether the public ought to have as much information as possible about an assault accusation against a presidential contender, and the answer is yes.”
Fox News' Tyler Olson and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.