Fact Check: Kamala Harris Said She Believed Women Who Said They Felt 'Uncomfortable' By Biden Touching -- NOT 'Rape Accusers'

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: Kamala Harris Said She Believed Women Who Said They Felt 'Uncomfortable' By Biden Touching -- NOT 'Rape Accusers' Not About Rape

Did Kamala Harris say she believed Joe Biden's "rape accusers"? No, that's not true: This is a misrepresentation of what Senator Harris said about women who said they felt "uncomfortable" from Biden's touching them and another woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by the former vice president. None of the women accused Biden of rape. Harris is quoted in 2019 saying she believed the women concerning the touching and in 2020 saying she believed another woman who claimed Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 "has a right to tell her story."

The claim appeared in several articles, including an article published by news.chicksonright.com on August 12, 2020 titled "BOMBSHELL: Interview Surfaces Of Kamala Harris Saying She Believes the Rape Accusers Against Joe Biden" (archived here) which opened:

According to The Hill as well as The Federalist and several other outlets, Kamala Harris said last year that she believes the women who accused Biden of sexual assault. "I believe them and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it," Harris said in 2019.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

BOMBSHELL: Interview Surfaces Of Kamala Harris Saying She Believes the Rape Accusers Against Joe Biden [Opinion]

According to The Hill as well as The Federalist and several other outlets, Kamala Harris said last year that she believes the women who accused Biden of sexual assault. "I believe them and I respect them

The two articles cited do not support the claim that Harris said "she believes the women who accused Biden of sexual assault."

The Hill article titled Harris: 'I believe' Biden accusers and published on April 3, 2019, opens:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she believes women who say they felt uncomfortable after receiving unwanted touching from former Vice President Joe Biden. "I believe them and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it," Harris said at a presidential campaign event in Nevada.

There is no reference to rape accusers or that Harris "believes the women who accused Biden of sexaul assault."

The Hill reports the touching claims that Harris said she believed:

Former Nevada state lawmaker Lucy Flores, a Democrat, made the first accusation last week in an essay in New York magazine's The Cut. On Monday, Amy Lappos told the Hartford Courant that Biden also touched her inappropriately at a 2009 fundraiser in Connecticut.

Two additional women, Caitlyn Caruso and D. J. Hill, came forward Tuesday, sharing their experiences with The New York Times.

The Federalist initially included a "rape accuser" reference in the headline, but the story was revised to omit it on August 12, 2020.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in an April 17, 2020 story on Harris's position concerning Tara Reade, who claims she was sexually assaulted by Biden in his senate office in 1993:

Harris told The Chronicle that Reade "has a right to tell her story. And I believe that and I believe Joe Biden believes that, too."

Harris said the case raises "a bigger structural issue, frankly, which is that women must be able to speak without fear of retaliation."

The senator said she could "only speak to the Joe Biden I know. He's been a lifelong fighter, in terms of stopping violence against women." She pointed to his lead role in passing the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate in 1994.

"The Joe Biden I know is somebody who really has fought for women and empowerment of women and for women's equality and rights," Harris said.

According to the Chronicle:

Reade said Biden "pinned her to a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers," according to the New York Times. Last year, Reade was among several women who said Biden had inappropriately touched them or invaded their personal space. Reade made the assault allegations in a podcast interview last month.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes news.chicksonright.com as:

A conservative website run by two radio show hosts that publishes news and sarcastic commentary, which often misstates facts to advance its views.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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