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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Pressley Applauded for 'Honest and Courageous' Message on Sexual Assault Allegations Against Joe Biden

"I reject the false choice that my party and our nominee can't address the allegations at hand and defeat the occupant of the White House."

Rep. Ayanna Pressley drew praise Monday for a blog post addressing the sexual assault allegation against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and calling for a "necessary" conversation about true survivor justice.

Pressley also called for a response from Biden "that models the empathy, diligence, and acknowledgement of broken systems that this conversation demands."

The Medium post by Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat who last year endorsed Biden's then-primary rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren, refers to not only Biden's alleged 1993 assault of former Senate aide Tara Reade but also the hopes of "survivors and marginalized people from all walks of life." The essay eyes the current political moment as a possible turning point for inching the nation closer "to reconciling our history of structural violence and oppression" and notes that Pressley is herself a survivor.

Pressley wrote, in part:

We are in the throes of an election of the greatest consequence—one that will determine if core rights and tenets of democracy survive in this nation. The stakes cannot be overstated. But I have no patience for any person who tells me that is a reason to lower my voice. I reject the false choice that my party and our nominee can't address the allegations at hand and defeat the occupant of the White House. [...]

It will take discipline and courage, but survivors and marginalized people from all walks of life are watching, wondering if—this time—te conversation might actually change. So I'm here to ask the Biden campaign and the nominee to give a response that models the empathy, diligence, and acknowledgement of broken systems that this conversation demands. I'm asking for true partnership with survivors and advocates, and for policy commitments that get us closer as a nation to reconciling our history of structural violence and oppression.

"This is leadership," said author and ZORA senior editor Morgan Jerkins.

Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of women's justice advocacy organization UltraViolet, called Pressley's op-ed "honest and courageous" and said it echoes "what so many of us are looking for."

Pressley's post came the same day Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) backed the call for an independent investigation into Reade's allegation.

The Hill reported:

"We need an investigation that has independence that will then ensure that the facts are established," Markey said on his way to a late afternoon confirmation vote in the Capitol.

"It should be independent," he added.

Merkley had a similar assessment. "I think it’s important to have appropriate independent scrutiny brought to bear to help inform all of us about the situation," he said.

Sen. Time Kaine, (D-Va.) also said Monday he wanted "to get all the Senate records and see if there was ever a complaint filed" by Reade. If law prevents the complaint's disclsoure, the law should be changed so that the complaint can be revealed, Kaine added.

Biden last week denied the allegations. "The claims are false," he said.


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