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Senate office says it lacks ‘discretion’ to release possible Biden complaint

WASHINGTON — A top Senate official reiterated Monday evening that the secretary of the Senate could not fulfill a request from former Vice President Joe Biden to find and release any documents pertaining to a complaint by a former staffer accusing him of sexual assault that she said she filed in 1993, but offered new detail about how her complaint would have been processed under policies at the time.

That alleged complaint would be about harassment that Tara Reade, the former staffer, says she experienced working in Biden’s office, not the alleged sexual assault.

Biden has denied the accusations. “I am saying unequivocally it never never happened and it didn’t,” he has said. ” “It never happened.”

In its second communication with Biden’s campaign of the day, the Secretary of the Senate’s office said it was “not aware of any exceptions in law” that would allow the disclosure of any workplace complaint filed against Biden.

A lawyer for the Democratic presidential candidate asked earlier if it could do so if the accuser also consented to its release.

Biden’s lawyer, Bob Bauer, had also asked the office if it could disclose the existence of any records, if not the record itself, and whether it could provide “procedural materials” that the relevant employment offices would have used to process a complaint.

The Senate office provided a 16-page document detailing procedures for the Senate Office of Fair Employment Practices for handling complaints about discrimination or “reprisal” from Senate employees.

Under that process, Reade’s first step would have been to submit a “request for counseling” — the first of three steps that might lead to a formal complaint and hearing. That counseling process involves informing the employee of their rights and responsibilities while also documenting their allegation.

Biden’s office would not have been notified of Reade’s allegation during this initial step, according to the employment practices. It would have been only if Reade moved into the next step, mediation.

In an interview with the Associated Press last year, Reade indicated that she “chickened out” after her initial outreach to the office. At the time, Reade alleged that Biden had sexually harassed her, stopping short of assault.

“They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in there once, but then I chickened out,” she said then.

NBC News has reached out to Reade to ask if she has additional detail about the process. On Saturday, Reade told NBC News in a text: “I filed a complaint re sexual harassment and retaliation but I am not sure what explicit words on that intake form until we all see it again.”

Julie Tsirkin contributed.

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Nancy Pelosi Endorses Joe Biden: ‘The Personification of Integrity’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president, calling him “a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity, and integrity,” as the presumptive Democrat nominee faces a sexual assault allegation from his former Senate staffer, Tara Reade.

Pelosi, in a prerecorded video shared Monday to social media, praised Biden as a “voice of reason” with experience in helping enact legislation like the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program.

“I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States because he will be an extraordinary president,” Pelosi said. “He knows how to get the job done.”

She added: “When our nation faced the Great Recession, it was Joe Biden who led the implementation – and the accountability – of the Recovery Act, helping create and save millions of jobs. When the Democratic Congress was passing the Affordable Care Act, Joe Biden was a partner for progress in the White House and also championed the Cancer Moonshot.”

Pelosi’s endorsement follows former President Barack Obama, who waited until Biden all but wrapped up the nomination to announce his support for his former vice president.

The House Speaker’s endorsement also comes as new evidence supporting Reade’s assault claim has resurfaced. A 1993 video, dug up by NewsBusters, appears to show Reade’s mother discussing her daughter’s “problems” with a “prominent senator” on CNN’s Larry King Live.

“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,” a woman whom Reade identifies as her mother is heard saying.

The call was first reported by The Intercept. The Biden campaign denies Reade’s allegations.

In an interview with the AP, she detailed a 1993 encounter that she says occurred when she was asked by a supervisor to bring Biden his gym bag, as he was on his way down to the Senate gymnasium. She says Biden pushed her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building, groped her, and penetrated her with his fingers.

“He was whispering to me and trying to kiss me at the same time, and he was saying, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’” she said. “I remember wanting to say stop, but I don’t know if I said it out loud or if I just thought it. I was kind of frozen up.”

Reade said that she pulled away and Biden looked “shocked and surprised,” and replied, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me.”

Reade, who was a staff assistant in Biden’s office at the time, said she wasn’t aware of any direct witnesses to the encounter. She told the AP she did raise accusations of sexual harassment, but not assault, against Biden in multiple meetings with her supervisors, including Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant; Dennis Toner, Biden’s deputy chief of staff; and Ted Kaufman, the senator’s chief of staff.

In a statement provided by the campaign, Baker said that in the nearly two decades she worked for Biden, “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Endorses Joe Biden For President

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who quit her Democratic presidential campaign in August, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for the party’s nomination, calling him the “absolute best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump.”

“I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden today,” Gillibrand wrote Thursday on Twitter, becoming the latest big-name Democrat to throw her support behind Biden. “Our country needs a president who will provide steady, honest leadership, and I believe Joe has the right experience, empathy, and character to lead. I’m excited to help him defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Biden has amassed a deep roster of support in recent weeks, with endorsements from many former 2020 rivals. Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) all said they’ll back him, as did former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

“He’s the absolute best candidate to defeat President Trump, and I think he is the person who has gained the trust and the respect of the American people in a way that no one else has,” Gillibrand told The Washington Post, noting Biden was prepared to handle the coronavirus pandemic. “The truth is he’s run the strongest campaign.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Biden’s last major competitor, has lagged behind in recent primaries. Biden scored major victories in Tuesday’s primaries in Florida, Arizona and Illinois, and now holds a commanding lead in delegates.

Biden thanked Gillibrand for her support, saying the lawmaker has “never been afraid to speak without fear, to be brave in the face of injustice, and to empower others to get off the sidelines.”

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Biden cruising to the nomination

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden won decisive victories in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday as he marched closer to the Democratic presidential nomination amid coronavirus mayhem.

The former vice president was on course to expand his lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and cross the halfway mark toward the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination on the first ballot.

The primaries came as the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc on American life and sent the economy into a tailspin, although large numbers of votes had already been banked in the early voting period. Ohio postponed its primary at the last minute.

Below are some key takeaways.

Biden closer to becoming presumptive nominee

In Florida and Illinois, the two biggest prizes on the map Tuesday, Biden decisively won men and women, white voters and non-white voters, college graduates and non-college graduates, liberals and moderates, married and unmarried voters.

His lopsided margins suggest that many Democrats want the primary to be over. One of them is former Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

“The conversation is going to quickly turn to how and when does Bernie Sanders unite the Democratic Party,” McCaskill said on MSNBC. “I think it is time. And Bernie’s going to have plenty of delegates and power to influence the platform, because we all want to come together. So I do think the pressure is going to mount, especially at this time of crisis in this country, for the Democrats to unite behind clearly the voters’ preference.”

David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, was more categorical: “Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee. The general election is set.”

Biden still struggling with young voters

One positive sign for Sanders was that he continued to win voters under 45 years old by large margins in all three states Tuesday. Sanders won those by 13 points in Florida, 37 points in Illinois and 52 points in Arizona.

Sanders needed young progressives to turn out in big numbers to outvote older moderates — but voters under 30 fell slightly from 2016 levels as a share of the electorate in Illinois and Florida.

Biden acknowledged his rival’s strength with young people.

“Let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what is at stake. And I know what we have to do,” he said. “Our goal as a campaign, and my goal as a candidate for president, is to unify our party — and to unify our nation.”

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Sanders on the brink

One way to know Sanders is in trouble? When he’s losing “very liberal” voters in major states, as he did in Florida with 44 percent to Biden’s 48 percent, according to NBC News primary polls.

He lost “liberal” voters in Illinois by 44 percent to Biden’s 51 percent. The defeat in Illinois was particularly disappointing; he came within 2 points of victory there in 2016.

Sanders’ hopes of turning things around now would hinge on his delivering massive wins in big coming states, although it’s not clear where he could do that.

The senator addressed the country on the coronavirus crisis in livestreamed remarks before polls closed. His campaign said he didn’t plan to speak about the results Tuesday night. There was no indication that he’d leave the race, as many allies want him to stay in and use his leverage to nudge Biden toward more progressive policy positions, which he has already been successful at doing.

Warren’s non-endorsement

Elizabeth Warren dropped out soon after Super Tuesday, but her non-endorsement continues to loom over the primaries. An endorsement of Sanders, whom she was ideologically aligned with, might have given him a fighting chance with college-educated white women, who were a core constituency for the senator from Massachusetts before she ended her campaign.

Sanders got routed among white women with college degrees, losing them to Biden by 39 points in Florida, by 20 points in Illinois and by 9 points in Arizona, according to NBC News primary polls.

Still, given Biden’s margins, it’s doubtful a Warren endorsement would have been enough for Sanders.

Florida turnout high despite coronavirus

Democratic turnout in Florida was projected by NBC News to top 2 million, eclipsing the 2016 total of 1.7 million, attributable in large part to early voting and mail-in ballots.

Shaquille Brewster contributed.

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‘Charlamagne tha God’ Blasts Joe Biden for Not Appearing on Radio Show

Lenard “Charlamagne tha God” McKelvey criticized former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday for not appearing on The Breakfast Club radio broadcast.

McKelvey told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin that the Democrat frontrunner owes his “political life” to black supporters and that his campaign “would be dead” without them. And while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all appeared to speak to black voters through his nationally syndicated radio show, Biden has been conspicuously absent.

Asked why he thinks that might be, McKelvey was stumped: “I have no idea,” he answered. “It goes back to what I said: Joe Biden owes black people his political life. You know what I’m saying? So don’t disrespect that base by not showing up, especially when, you know, all your other former opponents did,” he said.

McKelvey also claimed that sources have told him that the decision may have something to do with Biden’s campaign advisers. “I definitely got it on great authority that a lot of the black surrogates around him don’t want him to come on ‘The Breakfast Club’ for whatever reason,” he said.

“Black people saved his life the past couple of weeks,” McKelvey concluded. “His campaign would be dead if it wasn’t for our O.G. Jim Clyburn in South Carolina endorsing him, and all those black voters in the South going out and voting for him,” McKelvey concluded. “Plus, you were the vice president for the first black president. You, in particular, definitely need a black agenda.”

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Cruel primary history lessons Joe Biden won’t want to hear

Joe Biden is the national front-runner in the Democratic presidential race. He is holding a steady lead in national polling, and his campaign boasts of the firewall he’s established among African American voters, who may be the key to victory in the Feb. 28 South Carolina primary and who have backed the ultimate winner in every Democratic nominating contest since 1992.

That’s the good news for Biden.

The bad news is that in the first two voting states, he’s trailing. In fact, according to an average of the polls, he’s running in fourth place in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

If that holds, it will place Biden on the perilous side of history. Traditionally, the results from Iowa and New Hampshire play a dramatic role in winnowing and clarifying presidential fields. Since the dawn of the Democratic Party’s modern presidential primary system in the 1970s, no candidate has lost contested races in both Iowa and New Hampshire and still gone on to win the nomination.

This poses some key questions:

  • What happens if Biden whiffs in the first two states? Would it cause his support elsewhere to collapse, clearing the way for a rival to grab control of the race?
  • How about if he splits Iowa, which caucuses Feb. 3, and New Hampshire, which votes Feb. 11 — would that be enough for Biden to shore up his national standing?
  • Is it possible that the first two states just don’t matter that much anymore, that the nationalization of politics now allows for a candidate to absorb back-to-back blows and emerge none the weaker for it?

History can’t give us a definite answer, but it offers some clues. So, let’s take a closer look.

First of all, the list of contested Democratic presidential races since 1976 isn’t long: There are eight examples. So the historical “rule” that candidates who lose Iowa and New Hampshire don’t win nominations isn’t built on the deepest of foundations.

Plus, the dynamics that defined each of these campaigns vary widely. On that basis, we can probably toss out two that just aren’t that relevant to Biden’s situation. In 1976, Hubert Humphrey led in a Gallup national poll taken just before the Iowa caucuses. But Humphrey wasn’t actually a candidate, and never ended up being one. So there’s not a ton to be gleaned.

The same goes for 1988, a mess of a contest for Democrats. Technically, Gary Hart was the front-runner heading into Iowa, but he was already being written off. Felled by a sex scandal in early 1987, Hart had re-entered the race just before the New Year. He jumped to the top of the polls, but he faced hostile media coverage, had no organization, attracted few endorsements and little money. His numbers — nationally and in the early states — were dropping by the day. So, again, we don’t have a meaningful Biden parallel here.

We can also toss out 1992, a year in which Iowa was ceded to favorite son Sen. Tom Harkin by his opponents and ignored by the media. Practically speaking, Iowa didn’t happen in ‘92.

The remaining six races, however, do contain relevant elements. To understand what they might portend for Biden, we can split them into three categories:

1. National leader wins both Iowa, New Hampshire

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter fended off Ted Kennedy in both states and went on to be re-nominated. Carter’s strength was a late development, spurred by the onset of the Iranian hostage crisis in November 1979. Prior to that, Kennedy had led Carter in polling and seemed poised to grab the nomination from him.

President Carter speaks during a debate against Ronald Reagan in Cleveland, Ohio on Oct. 28, 1980.Bettmann Archive via Getty Images file

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In 2000, Vice President Al Gore ran with the full support of his boss, Bill Clinton, which helped clear the Democratic field — except for former Sen. Bill Bradley. When Gore won a sweeping victory in Iowa and held off a late Bradley charge in New Hampshire, the race was effectively over. Gore remains the only Democrat in the modern era to win every primary and caucus in a contested nomination race.

What it means for Biden now: Carter and (especially) Gore were stronger front-runners, and held polling leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But it’s worth remembering that Biden, while technically in fourth place, is within 10 points of the lead in both states. If he could engineer an Iowa victory, he could easily roll through New Hampshire and beyond.

Vice President Al Gore makes a speech during a stop on his presidential campaign in 1999.Brooks Kraft / Sygma via Getty Images file

2. National leader wins one or the other, not both

In 1984, Walter Mondale, like Biden, was a former vice president who loomed over the rest of a large Democratic field (although Mondale was typically faring about 10-15 percentage points better than Biden now in national polling). Mondale also enjoyed strong early support from black voters, who were split between him and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

When the voting began, Mondale won Iowa easily, but his victory was expected. It was the distant second-place candidate, Gary Hart, who then received a burst of media attention and rolled to an upset win in New Hampshire.

Suddenly, Mondale’s grip on the nomination was threatened. The race then moved South for the next set of contests, with Mondale’s fate on the line. Jackson was making a powerful pitch to black voters, but Mondale had just enough residual support from them to eke out campaign-saving wins in Alabama and Georgia. His ship steadied, and he went on to win the nomination.

What it means for Biden now: There are two big differences. One works against Biden: Mondale, a Minnesotan, enjoyed a massive built-in advantage in Iowa, where he led wire to wire. This is significant because it meant there was never any serious chance Mondale would lose both lead-off states. Biden, obviously, does face that risk.

Former Vice-President Walter Mondale gives a speech during his campaign in Minnesota in 1984.Owen Franken / Corbis via Getty Images file

But if Biden can somehow pull out a win in one of the first two states, Mondale’s example becomes quite encouraging for him. This is because of the other key difference: Biden, so far, has faced less competition for the black vote than Mondale did. A December 1983 Gallup poll put Mondale not far behind Jackson among black voters, 36 to 27 percent. By contrast, a Quinnipiac poll two weeks ago put Biden’s black support at 43 percent, with his nearest rival — Bernie Sanders — all the way back at 11 percent.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was also the national front-runner who lost the nomination after going one-for-two in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Her main opponent was Barack Obama and for the year leading up to the primaries, Clinton had enjoyed solid national leads. She was also competitive with Obama among African American voters, and was endorsed by a number of high-profile black leaders.

But when she lost the Iowa caucuses (technically finishing third, slightly behind John Edwards), the ground shifted dramatically. At first, Clinton looked poised to suffer another loss in New Hampshire, threatening to end her candidacy. Instead, she pulled out a surprise victory, thanks to a late surge of support among female voters.

She then won Nevada, too, but Obama’s Iowa breakthrough had altered the fundamentals of the race. This became clear when South Carolina’s primary results came in. Obama had been expected to win, but his margin — almost 30 points — was shocking. The key: Nearly 80 percent of black voters backed him. Clinton’s hopes of faring respectably with African Americans were shot and the Obama coalition was set. It was just enough to win him the Democratic nomination.

What it means for Biden now: He’s breathing a sigh of relief over this one, because it could have meant a lot, but right now it may not. At the outset of the campaign, it seemed possible that either Kamala Harris or Cory Booker (or both) would lock down significant black support, as Obama did early in the 2008 cycle, and that each would then be positioned to expand that backing rapidly with an Obama-like breakthrough in Iowa or New Hampshire. But Harris is now out of the race and Booker is running at three percent nationally with black voters. If Booker were to make a late move in Iowa, he could still pose a major threat to Biden’s black support, but the clock is ticking.

In 2016, the story for Clinton was similar and even more emphatic. She entered as the clear national front-runner, but soon faced a surprisingly strong challenge from Sanders. As the national race tightened, a potential Clinton firewall emerged: polls showed black voters remained overwhelmingly behind her. But would that support hold if she lost the early states?

She nearly did in Iowa, barely edging out Sanders in a tight race that wasn’t resolved until the morning after the caucuses. Then, she was trounced in New Hampshire by 22 points. But Clinton then pulled out a solid — eight points — victory in Nevada, and any sense of crisis had long since abated when the race reached South Carolina. There, Clinton dismantled Sanders, winning the black vote by an astounding 72 points, and the primary by 47 percentage points. It set the tone for the remainder of the race. Sanders was unable to puncture Clinton’s black support in any meaningful way, and it proved key to her ability to secure the nomination.

What it means for Biden now: Clinton won Iowa in 2016 by a total of four “state delegate equivalents.” (There was no popular vote reported, although there will be this time.) That’s about as close as you can come to losing while still winning.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives onstage during a primary night rally at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in New York on June 7, 2016.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

Now ask yourself: What if she’d done just a hair worse and actually lost Iowa? And then lost New Hampshire in a 22-point rout? What would have happened if Clinton lost both? How would it have played in the press? How would influential Democratic voices have treated it? Would she still have been able to turn around and win Nevada or would she have lost there, too? And if she’d lost there, would her South Carolina firewall still have held? Or would Sanders have made real inroads with black voters and altered the course of the Democratic race?

That’s a lot of questions, but it’s the great unknowable that makes 2016 so fascinating to look back at now. Clinton won the nomination handily, but she almost lost both Iowa and New Hampshire. If you believe her South Carolina support would have held despite earlier defeats, then you’re probably bullish on Biden’s chances of absorbing back-to-back losses to start the primary season (and maybe losing Nevada, too) and still winning the nomination. But if you’re not so convinced, then the lesson could be ominous for Biden now.

3. National leader loses Iowa, New Hampshire

In 2004, Howard Dean was the front-runner coming into the early states but not an overwhelming one, and, unlike Biden, he was running as an insurgent. Dean’s lopsided Iowa loss triggered a meltdown of his support elsewhere. He lost New Hampshire handily and every other state, except for his native Vermont.

But Dean’s demise is not what makes 2004 worrisome for Biden. It’s the rise of John Kerry that does.

Kerry’s campaign began with high hopes — a decorated veteran seeking to challenge a wartime president. But by the end of 2003, he was languishing in single digits nationally and running far behind Dean in the early states. Kerry caught fire in the closing weeks in Iowa and, aided by some late attacks on Dean from another candidate, Richard Gephardt, surged to a victory with 38 percent. A week later, he won New Hampshire, where not long before he’d been trailing by more than 20 points.

Then it was on to the South, where Kerry faced a challenge. A December 2003 poll had shown him with just 1 percent support among black voters in South Carolina. But his twin victories in the lead-off states had transformed his standing. Democrats, eager to anoint a nominee and go after Bush, were flocking to him.

In South Carolina, Kerry ended up losing the black vote by just three points, while in other states, he won it outright. The candidate who’d barely been a blip with African American voters at the start of 2004 won a majority of them nationally in the Democratic primaries — and took the nomination with ease.

What it means for Biden: The rise of Kerry, who endorsed Biden last week, demonstrates the potentially transformative power of winning both early states — especially in a climate in which Democrats are hungry to unite. He was far from the first choice of black voters, and most white voters for that matter, but he was an acceptable choice. And when he won Iowa and New Hampshire, that was good enough.

This is the dread scenario for Biden: An opponent sweeps the first two states and Democrats elsewhere deem him or her an acceptable choice and climb on the bandwagon.

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John Kerry endorses Joe Biden in 2020 Democratic presidential race – live | US news

Users of Bloomberg terminals are funnelled to the Bloomberg 2020 campaign website merely by writing: MIKE. …

A Bloomberg spokesperson said the ‘MIKE’ function had been in place since at least 1997, when it was used to promote Mr Bloomberg’s autobiography Bloomberg by Bloomberg. Two decades later it advertised his book Climate of Hope. The website it currently links to has for years promoted Mr Bloomberg’s personal and political projects before being converted to his campaign site.

The website that users are directed to presents a slickly-produced video narrating Mr Bloomberg’s journey from ‘a middle-class kid who had to work his way through college’ to a billionaire businessman and politician.

It asks readers to register their details to join the campaign team, and contains news of policy announcements — as well as an online shop including $22 ‘I like Mike Bloomberg’ T-shirts.

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