“I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man, guided by faith,” said former First Lady Michelle Obama during her pre-recorded speech for the virtual Democratic National Convention on Monday night.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but Michelle Obama has proven to not be a very great judge of character.
On November 8, 2013, then-First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech during a Careers in Film Symposium at the White House. The event was organized by none other than Harvey Weinstein.
“He is a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse,” Michelle said of Harvey Weinstein.
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Weinstein was first publicly accused of sexual assault in October 2017 and was charged with rape and other sex crimes earlier this year, but his history of sexual abuse and harassment had been an open secret for nearly twenty years prior.
Like Weinstein, Joe Biden has also been accused of inappropriate behavior, including sexual assault, spanning decades.
In 2019, former Biden Senate staffer Tara Reade claimed that Biden used to touch her inappropriately during her time in his office back in 1993. “He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade said. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”
She later expanded on those allegations, claiming in March 2020 that Biden sexually assaulted her by pushing her up against the wall, kissing her and sliding his hand up her shirt and up her skirt. Reade says she attempted to file a claim, but Biden was ultimately protected by loyalists on his staff. Her credibility was boosted by the release of a clip of the Larry King Live show during which her mother called in anonymously asking the panel for advice on how to handle a situation with her daughter and a prominent U.S. senator.
Other accusers have come forward with allegations of impropriety against Joe Biden.
Ally Coll, a former Democratic staffer, said that when she was first introduced to Biden while helping to run a reception for about 50 people in 2008, the senator “leaned in, squeezed her shoulders and delivered a compliment about her smile, holding her ‘for a beat too long.'”
Amy Lappos, a Democratic political activist, claimed that during a 2009 political fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn., for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, then-Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately. “It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told the Hartford Courant last year. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” Lappos explained. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
Two sexual assault survivors have also accused Biden of inappropriate touching.
Four years ago, at the age of 19, Caitlyn Caruso, a survivor of sexual assault, spoke at an event on sexual assault at the University of Las Vegas, which Joe Biden was also attending. Caruso says that after she shared her sexual assault experience, Biden “rested his hand on her thigh — even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort–and hugged her ‘just a little bit too long.'”
“It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” she said. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”
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In 2016, Sofie Karasek was one of 50 sexual assault survivors who appeared on stage with Lady Gaga at the Oscars. After the ceremony, Karasek shared with Biden a story about a college student who committed suicide after being sexually assaulted, and Biden, according to the Washington Post, “responded by clasping her hands and leaning down to place his forehead against hers.” She says it felt awkward and uncomfortable having their faces mere inches apart and she didn’t know how to respond to it, but she described it as Biden “crossing the boundary into her personal space at a sensitive moment.”
The next Biden accuser is D.J. Hill, who met Biden at a 2012 fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The incident occurred during a photo-op with Biden, where he put his hand on her shoulder and starting lowering it down her back, making her feel “very uncomfortable.” Hill’s husband noticed Biden’s maneuver and protected his wife by putting his own hand on Biden’s shoulder and telling a joke. Ms. Hill didn’t say anything at the time and later said she doesn’t know what his intent was, or if he was aware of her discomfort.
A former White House intern named Vail Kohnert-Yount also came forward last year. She claims that in the spring of 2013, while trying to exit the basement of the West Wing, she was asked to step aside to allow for Joe Biden to enter. After she moved out of the way, Biden approached her to shake her hand and introduce himself. During this encounter, she says Biden “put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead,” and called her “a pretty girl.” She says she was shocked by the incident, describing it as “the kind of inappropriate behavior that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.”
Former Nevada state assemblywoman Lucy Flores claims that Joe Biden touched her inappropriately and kissed her on the head during a 2014 campaign rally.
“Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. Why is the vice president of the United States touching me?”
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice president of the United States is smelling it.’ And also, ‘what in the actual fu–? Why is the vice president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plant a big, slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”
Flores said she “wanted nothing more” than to get Biden away from her. When her name was called, she says she was “never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.”
It’s possible that Michelle Obama was unaware of Harvey Weinstein’s reputation for sexual harassment and assault, but the allegations against Biden have been public knowledge for some time. Even Kamala Harris said she believed the allegations.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis