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Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Joe Biden denied Friday an allegation that he sexually assaulted a former Senate staffer decades ago, after facing mounting pressure to publicly address the allegation.
"This never happened," the presumptive Democratic nominee said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
The denial was Biden's first public comment about the accusation by Tara Reade, a former staffer of Biden's when he was a senator.
Biden's campaign previously denied Reade's accusation, declaring it "absolutely did not happen."
Reade has said that in 1993, the former vice president put her forcefully up against the wall, reached beneath her skirt with this hand and penetrated her in a Senate basement hallway. Two of Reade's associates said recently she previously told them about the alleged assault.
Biden has requested that the National Archives disclose any records of a complaint Reade says she filed.
"If there was any such complaint, the record will be there," Biden said. "This is an open book. There's nothing for me to hide."
Democrats are caught between forcefully validating women who disclose their experiences, while defending a man who they hope will win what many in the party consider the most significant election of their lifetimes.
Republicans increasingly are concerned about President Donald Trump's sagging poll numbers and are using the allegation to depict Democrats as willing to only defend women who have claimed they were wronged by conservatives.
Republicans are trying to bring increased scrutiny to the allegations against Biden, despite the fact their efforts could renew attention on numerous sexual assault allegations that have been leveled against Trump.