Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday denied an allegation of sexual assault by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade, breaking a monthlong silence that had frustrated some Democratic activists as his presidential campaign grapples with issues of accountability and gender that are vitally important to many members of his party.
Sounding emphatic and at times agitated in an interview on MSNBC, Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, tried to address concerns about Ms. Reade’s claim by saying that she had a right to be heard while also insisting that he had not assaulted her. “No, it is not true,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.”
Mr. Biden also called on the National Archives to release any existing complaint related to the allegation, even as he continued to oppose requests to release his Senate papers, which, he said, do not contain personnel records.
The interview, as well as a statement posted on Medium, amounted to the Biden campaign’s most concerted effort yet to contain any possible danger for his candidacy just as the Democrat had turned his attention to unifying the party against President Trump. But Mr. Biden’s lack of response for so long was the latest example of caution in the Biden camp that worries some Democrats about the campaign’s agility in a general election sure to be heated and highly personal.