Joe Biden’s spokesman said Monday that the numerous photos that show his boss appearing to invade women’s personal space, many of which were cited in a recent exposé to demonstrate a pattern of inappropriate behavior, have either been forged, deceptively edited, or otherwise taken out of context.
“These smears and forgeries have existed in the dark recesses of the Internet for a while. And to this day, right wing trolls and others continue to exploit them for their own gain,” said Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden, who is currently considering entering the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential race.
The statement was released in response to a New York Magazine essay written by Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman who claims Biden approached her from behind, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her neck without permission at a 2014 campaign rally. In the essay, published Friday, Flores cited a number of photos of Biden as proof of a pattern of “creepy” behavior on his part:
Time passed and pictures started to surface of Vice-President Biden getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls. Biden nuzzling the neckof the Defense secretary’s wife; Biden kissing a senator’s wife on the lips; Biden whispering in women’s ears; Biden snuggling female constituents. I saw obvious discomfort in the women’s faces, and Biden, I’m sure, never thought twice about how it made them feel.
Russo responded directly to Flores’ invocation of the photos featuring Senator Chris Coons’s (D., Del.) daughter and former secretary of defense Ash Carter’s wife, pointing out that both of the women involved did not feel uncomfortable with Biden’s behavior, which they regarded as supportive.
“One such instance involved Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the other Senator Chris Coons’ daughter. Each was ostensibly captured by a photo that some have interpreted in a way that is reflected consistently, and without scrutiny, in the reporting. Ms. Flores herself has cited the Carter photo as an example of the behavior she experienced,” Russo’s statement reads. “Here’s the problem: in neither case is the often repeated and recirculated interpretation true. Both Stephanie Carter and Senator Coons have now felt compelled to speak out to put these ugly urban legends to rest.”
The latest response comes after Russo and Biden each released a more conciliatory statement over the weekend in which they claimed they were unaware Flores was ever made uncomfortable by Biden’s behavior, but vowed to “listen” to her allegations and those of any other woman who comes forward.
“I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will,” Biden wrote in a statement released Sunday.
Russo, in his Monday statement, noted that certain photoshopped images of Biden appearing to act inappropriately toward women have circulated online for years.