Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday denied an allegation of sexual assault by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade, his first public remarks about an accusation that has roiled his presidential campaign.
“I recognize my responsibility to be a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished,” Mr. Biden wrote in a Medium post. “So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago. They aren’t true. This never happened.”
Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, also called on the National Archives to release any existing complaint related to the allegation.
In an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday, Mr. Biden said of Ms. Reade’s claim, “No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.”
Responding to questions from Mika Brzezinski, the show’s co-host, Mr. Biden said that all women had a right to be heard when they come forward with allegations, and then the facts need to be examined. But he strenuously insisted that in his case, “I assure you it did not happen. Period. Period.”
Joe Biden, asked on @Morning_Joe if he sexually assaulted Tara Reade:
“No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened. And it didn’t. It never happened.”
At issue is an allegation from Ms. Reade, a former aide in his Senate office, who has said that Mr. Biden assaulted her in 1993, when he was a senator from Delaware. His campaign has said her account is false, but Mr. Biden, who has participated in virtual fund-raisers and local television interviews in recent days, had not raised the matter himself or faced public questioning on the subject.
His silence until now on an issue that surfaced weeks ago had frustrated some Democrats and is the latest example of Mr. Biden’s attracting criticism for a slow response in the face of a controversy.
Amid intensifying scrutiny around the allegation, there have been growing calls for Mr. Biden to release his Senate papers, held at the University of Delaware. In the Medium post, Mr. Biden said that those papers “do not contain personnel files.”