Democratic leaders in Congress continued on Sunday to remain quiet on the sexual assault allegations leveled against their party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, even as anger over the accusations mounted from the party’s more progressive wing.
Neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., nor Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have made any public comment about the allegations by Tara Reade, a staffer for Biden in 1993, that the then-senator from Delaware sexually assaulted her.
Pelosi and Schumer’s offices did not return Fox News request for comment.
There is growing anger from both progressive Democrats and supporters of the #MeToo movement about the lack of response from Democratic leaders toward the allegations. The hashtag #dropoutbiden was trending on Twitter on Sunday – until it was allegedly removed – and many supporters for former Democratic presidential primary hopeful Bernie Sanders are calling on Biden to suspend his campaign for the White House.
Nick Brana, Sanders’ former national outreach coordinator, tweeted over the weekend that the Democratic National Committee should either force Biden to drop out or “admit that suppressing progressives is the true purpose of your party.”
Reade’s story first resurfaced in an article in The Intercept, where she claimed that in 1993, she was asked by a more senior member of Biden’s staff to bring the then-senator his gym bag near the Capitol building, which led to the encounter in question.
“He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then we were alone. It was the strangest thing,” Reade told Halper. “There was no like, exchange really. He just had me up against the wall.”
Reade said that she was wearing “a business skirt,” but “wasn’t wearing stockings—it was a hot day.”
She continued: “His hands were on me and underneath my clothes, and he went down my skirt and then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”
Reade claimed Biden first asked if she wanted “to go somewhere else.”
“I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing,” Reade said. “He said: ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’”
Biden’s campaign has adamantly denied the allegations, calling the claim concerning the purported incident decades ago “false.”
“Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to Fox News.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, arguably Sanders’s biggest supporter in Congress, has called Reade’s accusation “legitimate to talk about” earlier this month.
“What you’re voicing is so legitimate and real. That’s why I find this kind of silencing of all dissent to be a form of gaslighting,” the New York congresswoman responded, according to CBS News. “I think it’s legitimate to talk about these things. And if we want, if we, again, want to have integrity, you can’t say, you know — both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you, until it inconveniences us.”
Weeks after making those comments, however, Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram video that she’ll be casting a vote for Biden come November.
“I’ve been saying this whole time that we’ve got to support the Democratic nominee,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “This is the time I’m saying it declarative like this.”
Over the weekend, a video emerged from 1993 in which Reade’s mother appears to allude to the sexual assault accusation during an interview with CNN’s Larry King.
The Intercept on Friday first reported the transcript on the Aug. 11, 1993, broadcast, where the woman — who does not mention sexual assault, or the specific details of Reade’s claim — asks a question to the panel. The clip was later found and published by Newsbusters.
“Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him,” the caller says.
“In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?” King inquires.
“That’s true,” the woman responds before King cuts away to a panel to discuss her claim.
Reade says that woman is Jeanette Altimus, her late mother.
“This is my mom. I miss her so much and her brave support of me,” Reade tweeted about her mother, who died in 2016.
The Biden campaign once again pointed to a statement by Bedingfield that said: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield said. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.”
The clip of the interview with Larry King, however, just added fuel to the fire for Sanders’ supporters.
“The video of Tara Reade’s late mother calling into Larry King to blow the whistle about about [sic] Tara’s sexual assault is being met with relative silence from a cadre of progressives right now and I want you all to know that I see you,” former Sanders senior adviser Winnie Wong tweeted. “We all do.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Adam Shaw and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.