White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said that sexual harassment allegations against President Biden have been “heavily litigated” when pressed on whether Biden’s accusers deserve an independent investigation as was afforded to women who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of harassment.
Biden has been accused of skinny-dipping in front of female Secret Service agents and his former Senate aide Tara Reade accused him of a 1993 sexual assault, The Post noted to Psaki at her daily press briefing. Many women went to the New York Times and Washington Post during the 2020 campaign to say Biden’s unwanted touching upset them.
“Well first I would say, the president has been clear and outspoken about the importance of women being respected and having their voices heard and being allowed to tell their stories and people treating them with respect. That has long been his policy, continues to be his policy,” Psaki said.
She added: “That was heavily litigated during the campaign. I understand you’re eager to come back to it, but I don’t have anything further other than to repeat that he has called for the governor to resign.”
Biden denied Reade’s allegations, but in 2019 acknowledged the complaints of women who said he made them uncomfortable by touching them. He has not substantively responded to reports that female Secret Service agents were offended by his skinny-dipping while he was vice president.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted. And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset,” Biden said in 2019. “And I get it. I hear what they’re saying. I’ll be much more mindful, that’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it. But I’ll always believe that governing is about connecting with people. That won’t change, but I’ll be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space, and that’s a good thing.”
Biden on Tuesday called on Cuomo to resign after a report commissioned by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, found corroboration for claims that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women with improper touching or inappropriate comments about their personal lives.
Cuomo defended himself by saying that he hugs and kisses many people. He released a counter-report showing that other officials, including Biden, have hugged women in public.
Psaki on Wednesday said that Biden hasn’t called Cuomo to persuade him to step down and would not say if Biden wanted the state legislature to impeach Cuomo if he refuses to leave.
“The president made clear yesterday that Gov. Cuomo should resign. And I believe we should start with that. There’s obviously a process that’s going to proceed, and leaders in New York spoke to that yesterday. We’ll leave it to them to speak to that,” Psaki said.