Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Silencing Biden's Sexual Assault Accuser Is 'Gaslighting,' Calls for DNC Discussion

New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday night that she believes the Democratic Party has an obligation to examine a sexual assault allegation made against presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden by Tara Reade, his former aide when he served as Delaware's senator.

In response to a question about the allegations during an online conversation with The Wing—a group dedicated to the "professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community"—Ocasio-Cortez said, "I think it's legitimate to talk about these things."

"If we again want to have integrity, you can't say, you know, both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you," she added.

While Biden has denied Reade's accusation, Ocasio-Cortez said that not discussing #MeToo issues in order to improve Biden's chances of beating President Donald Trump during the November election is the "exact opposite of integrity."

"I find this kind of silencing of all dissent to be a form of gaslighting.... A lot of us are survivors, and it's really, really hard and uncomfortable," she said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-N.Y) speaks before introducing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to the stage during his campaign event at the Whittemore Center Arena on February 10, 2020 in Durham, New Hampshire. Joe Raedle/Getty

Ocasio-Cortez is one of the highest-profile representatives of the Democratic Party's progressive wing, which opposed Hillary Clinton's candidacy in 2016.

This election cycle, Democratic party leaders have been taking pains to avoid a similar fracturing of support for Biden, with President Barack Obama delaying his endorsement of his former vice president until after Biden's main competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), had first endorsed him.

Reade filed a criminal complaint with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department against Biden. She accuses him of pushing her against a wall and penetrating her with his fingers. She says the incident occurred nearly 30 years ago. She also said the then-senator would put his hand on her shoulder or run his finger along her neck and that of other women.

Kate Bedingfield, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for Biden's campaign, said in a statement that Reade's accusation was false.

"Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women," Bedingfield's statement read. "He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard—and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen."

Nevertheless, Reade said she wanted to come forward with her claims to ensure that "powerful men" are held accountable.

"I have been smeared and called vile names by Biden supporters. I was also accused of being called a Russian agent. I am not," Reade tweeted. "I will continue to speak out."