Biden Condemns Racism, Trump’s Response After Minnesota Protests

Joe Biden denounced the unjust treatment of African Americans and called Friday on Americans to take an active role in combating racism, as he assailed President Donald Trump’s leadership after a black man was killed in police custody in Minnesota.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, delivered brief remarks in a speech streamed live on his website, as he sought to draw a clear contrast with a series of inflammatory tweets from Trump suggesting that protesters in Minneapolis would be shot.

“We need to stand up as a nation with the black community, with all minority communities, and come together as one America,” Biden said. “The very soul of America is at stake. We must commit as a nation to pursue justice with every ounce of our being.”

On Monday, George Floyd, a black man, was killed in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. On Friday, after days of sometimes violent protests, police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder.

Trump inserted himself into the protests with a series of early morning tweets in which he criticized the mayor’s handling of the protests and threatened to send in the National Guard, which is a state function, not federal. He then used a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about shooting looters.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Trump tried to walk back the remark after widespread criticism, tweeting that he was not seeking to stoke violence but rather stating that looting can lead to violence, which he wanted to avoid. He later said he had spoken to Floyd’s family and asked for an expedited federal investigation into the death.

“We all saw what we saw, and it’s very hard to even conceive of anything other than what we did see. Should never happen, should never be allowed to happen, a thing like that. But we’re determined that justice be served,” he told reporters.

But he also spoke out against violent protests.

“We can’t allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos. And we understand that very well. It’s very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody that memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory. Let it be a perfect memory. The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters,” he said.

Although Biden didn’t mention Trump directly in his speech, he had harsh words for the president on CNN a few hours later.

“He is totally thoroughly wrong the way he is handling this,” Biden said. “It is not presidential.”

Biden also said that he had spoken with Floyd’s family and promised that he would work to seek justice for them. But the former vice president also drew a line from Floyd’s death to the recent killings of unarmed African-Americans in Georgia and Kentucky as well as other incidents of harassment and discrimination against blacks.

“We are a country with an open wound,” he said. “None of us can turn away. None of us can be silent.”

Race Jibes in Campaign

Biden’s appeal for racial healing comes a week after he was facing jibes from Trump on race. Biden had appeared on a radio show geared toward a black audience and said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump then you ain’t black.”

The Trump campaign and its allies immediately seized on the comments, saying the comment was evidence Democrats take black voters for granted. It also launched a $1 million digital ad blitz to capitalize on the remark. Biden has apologized.

Trump’s campaign had been making a public push for support from black voters, forming “Black Voices for Trump,” last fall. Trump has also courted police unions as part of his base, suggesting a return to a time where harsher police tactics were legal.

“And when you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please, don’t be too nice,’” Trump said in remarks to law enforcement in Brentwood, New York, in July 2017. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over like, ‘Don’t hit their head!’ and they’ve just killed somebody — ‘Don’t hit their head!’ I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’”

Biden, whose candidacy was revived by black voters in South Carolina and remains extremely popular among older black Americans, said when he entered the presidential race last year that he did so in part because of Trump’s reaction to the white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, when the president said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

On Friday, Biden tweeted that the president was “calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain.”

“This is no time for incendiary tweets,” Biden said in his remarks. “This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”

The president’s campaign said the media and Democrats were mischaracterizing the president’s words.

“We have witnessed again the media’s relentless twisting of President Trump’s words, and the Democrats seizing on that, to take the entire nation down the worst road imaginable,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said. “A man has died, a police officer is charged with murder, an American city is in chaos, and Democrats and the media see only a political opportunity and a chance to make money. Their behavior is reprehensible and should be roundly condemned by all Americans.”

Trump’s original tweet, which was also reposted by the official White House account, was flagged by Twitter for violating its policies on “glorifying violence.” Twitter added a warning, but the company did not remove the tweets “given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”

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Joe Biden Sympathizes With Pandemic-Hit Americans On ‘The Late Show’

Joe Biden reflected on his own grieving to empathize with Americans who’ve lost loved ones to the coronavirus in an emotional interview on Thursday’s broadcast of “The Late Show.”

Biden also slammed the Trump White House’s fumbled response to the pandemic.

The de-facto Democratic 2020 nominee, toward the end of a 50-minute chat with host Stephen Colbert, urged people who have been sucked into the pandemic’s “big black hole” of grief to remember that those who died were “still part of you, they’re your heart, they’re your soul.”

“It’s who you are, there’s this connection that is real, and the only way I know for me how to get through it is to find purpose,” he said. “What would the person you lost, what would they want you to doing? What can you do to make it better?”

Biden, whose first wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a 1972 car crash, later recalled a promise his son Beau made him make just months before he died of brain cancer at age 46 in 2015.

“He said, ‘Dad, I know no one in the world loves me more than you do,’” remembered Biden. “‘But, Dad, I promise you, I’m going to be OK. My word, I’m going to be OK. But, Dad, promise me you’re going to be OK.’” 

“He was worried I would withdraw,” Biden explained, appearing to get visibly emotional. “I would go inside, because mourning in public is a lot different than being able to mourn in private. And he made me promise to stay engaged.”

“I’m sorry I get so personal,” Biden told Colbert after the candid discussion.

Earlier in the interview, Biden wondered why President Donald Trump wasn’t telling citizens the truth about the pandemic.

“They’re tough. They can handle it,” he said. “And tell them what’s going to happen and tell them how you’re going to get these things done. He’s done none of that.”

Check out the full interview here:

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Ayanna Pressley Urges Biden To Respond To Sexual Assault Claim With Empathy, Diligence

Democratic congresswoman and sexual assault survivor Ayanna Pressley says she wants to start an “uncomfortable” national conversation about sexual harassment and abuse — and she’s urging her party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden to engage more fully in this dialogue.

Biden has been accused by Tara Reade, a former aide, of sexual assault. Reade alleges the former vice president pinned her against a wall in 1993, reached under her skirt and pushed his fingers inside her. Biden said Friday that Reade’s allegations were “unequivocally” untrue. 

In a Medium blog post published Tuesday, Pressley, who was elected in 2018 as Massachusetts’ first Black congresswoman, suggested that Reade’s accusations needed to be heard.

“Our assumptions and our starting points” for conversations about sexual violence have to change in America and “the allegations against Joe Biden are no exception,” wrote Pressley, who has spoken publicly in the past about her own sexual trauma. 

“Listening to the stories of those who step forward is the baseline. We say ‘believe survivors’ because, for nearly all of history, the experiences of survivors have been dismissed and derided by a society steeped in misogyny and hatred. We advocate that we begin with assumptions of credibility and move to due process and reconciliation,” she continued.  

Pressley ― who in November endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president ― said she’s been told to “lower her voice” on the allegations against Biden given the magnitude of the upcoming presidential election. 

“We are in the throes of an election of the greatest consequence — one that will determine if core rights and tenets of democracy survive in this nation. The stakes cannot be overstated. But I have no patience for any person who tells me that is a reason to lower my voice,” Pressley wrote. “I reject the false choice that my party and our nominee can’t address the allegations at hand and defeat the occupant of the White House.”

The congresswoman said the Biden campaign has an opportunity to help change the way conversations around sexual violence are had in this country. 

″[For] those who do … seek to reframe our conversations and work in pursuit of justice, we are required to raise our hands and our voices. It will take discipline and courage, but survivors and marginalized people from all walks of life are watching, wondering if — this time — the conversation might actually change,” she wrote.

“So I’m here to ask the Biden campaign and the nominee to give a response that models the empathy, diligence, and acknowledgement of broken systems that this conversation demands. I’m asking for true partnership with survivors and advocates, and for policy commitments that get us closer as a nation to reconciling our history of structural violence and oppression,” Pressley added.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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Joe Biden Denies Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation

Joe Biden on Friday publicly responded for the first time to a sexual assault allegation against him made by Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer.

“I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago,” he said in a lengthy statement released ahead of an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They aren’t true. This never happened.”

The statement goes on:

She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. 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.

There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills. 

Biden asked the National Archives to release any documents related to Reade’s claim. The University of Delaware, which holds Biden’s senatorial papers, has said it will not release any of the documents because he continues to be in “public life.” Biden claimed records of any complaint would not be there.

In a combative interview with “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski, Biden repeated his denial, saying, “I don’t know why she’s saying this.”

He also rejected the idea of releasing any records now held by the University of Delaware related to Reade, or even authorizing “a search for Tara Reade’s name in the University of Delaware records,” which Brzezinski suggested.

“Look, Mika, she said she filed a report. She has her employment records still. She said she filed her report with the only office that would have the report, in the United States Senate at the time. If the report was ever filed, it was filed there, period,” he said, and would now be in the National Archives.

At several points, Brzezinski tried to get Biden to square his commitment to believing sexual assault survivors with his denial of Reade’s allegation. 

“Are women to be believed unless it pertains to you?” Brzezinski asked.

Biden responded:

Look, women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt. If they come forward and say something that they said happened to them, they should start off with the presumption they’re telling the truth. Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts. And the facts in this case do not exist — they never happened. And there are so many inconsistencies in what has been said in this case. So yes, look at the facts. And I can assure you it did not happen, period, period.

Biden repeatedly suggested Reade was lying, although he asserted that he would not “question her motive” or “question her or attack her.” He added: “I don’t know why she’s saying this. I don’t know why, after 27 years, this gets raised.”

Biden also denied that Reade was made to sign a nondisclosure agreement, asserting that he has never made staffers sign NDAs.

Neither he nor his campaign has reached out to Reade, he said.

Before Friday’s interview, Biden’s presidential campaign vehemently denied Reade’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1993 when she worked as a staff assistant in his Senate office. Reade said the then-senator pushed her against a wall, reached up her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers while she was delivering a duffel bag to him at her manager’s request.

But until now, Biden himself has not addressed the claim.

“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Kate Bedingfield, communications director for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement on April 13.

“He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act,” Bedingfield continued. “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. What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”

Reade was one of at least eight women last year to publicly accuse Biden of inappropriate touching. She said at the time that she worked in his Senate office when she was in her mid-20s and that he would make her uncomfortable by running his fingers up her neck or putting his hand on her shoulder.

Biden, in response to the allegations of inappropriate touching, acknowledged last year that “social norms are changing.” He said he would be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”

Reade expanded on her allegation in March in separate interviews with The Intercept and with podcast host Katie Halper, detailing her assault claim.

She said Biden became annoyed when she resisted his advances during the incident, and told her that he had heard she “liked” him.

“You’re nothing to me,” she said Biden told her. She said he then shook her shoulders, told her she was “OK” and walked away.

Reade said she complained about Biden’s behavior to several senior aides, including his then-chief of staff Ted Kaufman. When Biden’s office took no action, she said she filed a formal complaint to the Senate.

After raising her concerns, Reade said she was stripped of most of her duties. She said she was later told by Kaufman that she wasn’t a good fit for the job and to find a new one.

Kaufman told The New York Times in April that he “did not know” Reade and that she had not complained to him about Biden’s behavior. The Biden campaign told the newspaper it does not have the complaint that Reade said she filed.

Marianne Baker, who served as Biden’s executive assistant from 1982 to 2000, said in a March statement that she “never once” witnessed or received any reports of inappropriate conduct.

The Times confirmed Reade worked in Biden’s office from December 1992 to August 1993. The newspaper said no other person accused Biden of sexual assault during its investigation into Reade’s allegation.

Several people have corroborated parts of Reade’s story. Former neighbor Lynda LaCasse was quoted in Business Insider saying that Reade told her in 1995 or 1996 that Biden assaulted her.

“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” LaCasse told the outlet. 

“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” she added. “She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”

Another woman told the Insider that Reade had confided about being the victim of sexual misconduct in the mid-1990s.

Lorraine Sanchez, who worked alongside Reade in California state Sen. Jack O’Connell’s office from 1994 to 1996, said Reade told her at the time that she’d had a boss in Washington who sexually harassed her. Reade said she was fired after speaking up about the harassment, according to Sanchez.

Sanchez said she does not remember if Reade offered details about the harassment or if she named Biden as the perpetrator. 

Reade’s brother told the Insider that he recalled his sister telling him that Biden “had his hand under her clothes at some point.” 

Reade said she also told her mother about the alleged assault at the time. She told The Intercept that her mother, who has since died, called into “Larry King Live” on CNN and made reference to the incident, mortifying Reade.

Video surfaced of a 1993 episode of “Larry King Live” that featured a segment titled “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” The program included a phone call from a woman, who Reade said was her mother.

“I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington,” the caller said. “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.”  

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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Biden Assails Stimulus, Calls U.S. Corporations ‘Greedy as Hell’

Joe Biden railed against the coronavirus stimulus packages in an interview published Saturday, calling corporate America “greedy as hell” while demanding legislation that includes stricter conditions on business bailouts and more oversight of the Trump administration.

In the interview with Politico, the former vice president said the next stimulus bill should be “a hell of a lot bigger” than the first $2 trillion CARES Act and assailed big business and banks.

“This is the second time we’ve bailed their asses out,” he said of the big banks.

The presumptive Democratic nominee also said banks like Wells Fargo & Co. are “only alive because of the American taxpayer” and criticized them for prioritizing large corporate clients in securing money from the stimulus package that was set aside for small businesses.

36,188 in U.S.Most new cases today

-17% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​132 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March

“We knew from the beginning that the big banks don’t like lending to small businesses,” Biden said. “I’m telling you, though, if Main Street businesses don’t get help, they’re gone.”

The interview comes as Biden tries to win over the progressive wing of the party and woo supporters of his former rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Biden has been criticized by some progressives in recent days after a report that Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary, is one of his economic advisers. Summers has come under fire for his work as a top economic official in the Obama administration, including for being too favorable to big banks during the financial crisis. He downplayed his role in the Biden campaign in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday, saying he is “one of many, many people” the campaign consults and that he doesn’t have a formal role.

Green Infrastructure

Biden said future stimulus packages should include more aid for states and cities and a green infrastructure bill that includes investments in light rail, clean drinking water and electric vehicle chargers.

He also repeated his call for addressing some of the structural issues in the economy that he says have long been ignored. Coronavirus, he has said over the past few weeks, presents an opportunity to address some of these longstanding problems.

“I think there’s going to be a willingness to fix some of the institutional inequities that have existed for a long time,” he said. “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.”

In the interview, Biden also contrasted his oversight of the Obama administration’s $800 billion Recovery Act with President Donald Trump’s leadership. He said the administration is “wasting a hell of a lot of money” and criticized Trump for firing the Pentagon inspector general who was tasked with overseeing the CARES Act.

“Right now, there’s no oversight,” he said. Trump, he added “made it real clear he doesn’t have any damn interest in being checked. The last thing he wants is anyone watching that $500 billion going to corporate America, for God’s sake.”

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