Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, should be disqualified from being president if he sexually assaulted a former staffer, says Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.), who is running for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. “I think anyone is disqualified if they’ve engaged in some kind of assault, especially a sexual assault,” the 40-year-old five-term congressman told Reason in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview.
At least 25 women have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. When asked if he could state that he has never assaulted or behaved improperly toward anyone, Amash said, “Yes, I can say that definitively.”
About a month ago, a former Biden staffer named Tara Reade told journalist Katie Halper that Biden, then a senator from Delaware, kissed her without permission, pushed her up against a wall, and penetrated her with his fingers. Reade’s charges have been mostly ignored or dismissed by high-profile Democrats, even though Biden in the past has said that when women make such charges, “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.” He also acknowledged in a video statement last year that he had invaded “the personal space” of women over the years. He released the video after several women complained that he had kissed their necks, sniffed their hair, and rubbed their noses without permission. The silence among many pundits and politicians who have championed the #MeToo movement has led critics to charge them hypocrisy and opportunism.
Biden has categorically denied Reade’s allegations, but the issue is starting to gain traction because several people close to the accuser have said she told them about the misconduct when it was alleged to have occurred, almost 30 years ago. Most recently, The Intercept released a tape of a 1993 phone call to Larry King’s CNN show in which a woman alleged to be Reade’s mother discusses her daughter’s “problems” with “a prominent senator” she had worked for.
Asked how to handle accusations of sexual assault and harassment, Amash, a lawyer by training, said that “it’s important that everyone have due process. In other words, if an accusation is made, you can’t just say the person is guilty without a trial and a proper venue.” The congressman also stressed that “we should respect people who are making the accusation and give them the full opportunity to make their case and to present evidence and have that evidence corroborated.”
Amash told Reason that while he thinks the charges against Biden and Trump are serious, they won’t be a focus of his campaign. Instead, he believes they will “be sorted out through the media and through the parties involved.”