Rep. Ilhan Omar became the most prominent Democrat to say she believes Tara Reade’s sex-assault accusations against presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.
The Minnesota Democrat made the remarks in an interview with The Sunday Times, but on Monday said on Twitter that she plans to vote for Mr. Biden anyway — contrary to his own advice.
“I do believe Reade,” Ms. Omar told the British broadsheet. “Justice can be delayed but should never be denied.”
She added that if it were up to her, a supporter of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mr. Biden wouldn’t be the nominee.
Faced with social-media backlash, she backtracked on that some the day after publication.
“Believing survivors is consistent with my values. Yes, I endorsed against Biden and I didn’t pick him as our nominee. With that said, in this interview I did on May 6th, we talked about that and quotes aren’t always in context. I will vote for him and help him defeat Trump,” she wrote.
That isn’t the standard Mr. Biden has sought, though, instead flatly denying the accusation.
“If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me,” he said on MSNBC. “I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”
Most high-profile Democratic women — for example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — have flatly said they believe Mr. Biden’s denials over Ms. Reade’s accusation, even when their statements during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings are brought to their attention.
While Ms. Omar’s tweet spoke obliquely about context, she did not elaborate on what the Sunday Times might’ve misconstrued.
Her campaign spokesman confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Monday that the statements attributed to her were accurate.
The Minnesota paper also reported that Ms. Omar’s challenger in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary had criticized her for believing Ms. Reade, accusing the Somali-born Muslim of promoting right-wing smears.
“Ilhan Omar’s insistence on propping up a serious allegation without evidence against our presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is not only wrongheaded but dangerous,” Antone Melton-Meaux said in a statement Monday.
He said that “casually promoting right wing attacks to smear Vice President Biden because he’s not your preferred kind of Democrat shows that Rep. Omar does not take seriously the stakes of this election.”
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