House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, who was elected Wednesday by House Democrats to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said during the 2020 presidential election that Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against President Biden “needs to be investigated seriously.”
Jeffries made headlines in April 2020 after he broke with his party to lend credibility to the claims made by Reade, a former Biden staffer who accused Biden of cornering her in a Senate office building in 1993 and sexually assaulting her.
Multiple people have corroborated parts of Reade’s story since she first spoke out on March 25, 2020, but Biden and his campaign vehemently denied the claims.
“It’s got to be taken seriously because this is a serious allegation raised by a serious individual and needs to be investigated seriously. We’ve probably got to hear from him [Biden] at some point directly,” Jeffries told WNYC at the time.
“I’m not really in a position to say what is the appropriate mechanism, although this needs to be taken seriously,” he said.
Reade was one of eight women who came forward in 2019 to accuse Biden of inappropriate touching. She later expanded on her experience with Biden in March 2020, alleging that he once pinned her against a wall and digitally penetrated her without her consent.
Top Democrats downplayed the allegation, despite it coming on the heels of the #MeToo movement. Then-Senate candidate John Hickenlooper made headlines in June 2020 after he said he believed Reade’s allegations “to a large extent” but was going to support Biden for president anyway.
In October 2020, Reade released the book, “Left Out: When the Truth Doesn’t Fit In,” about her experience coming forward with the allegation.
Jeffries’ office did not respond to sources inquiry asking whether the New York congressman still agreed that the allegation needs to be investigated or if he would support an investigation in the new Congress.
Jeffries won Wednesday’s uncontested election after Pelosi and the two other incumbent members of the Democratic leadership, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, opted to step down.
Jeffries, a 52-year-old New Yorker, will be the first black to serve as House Democratic leader.