- Ritzau Scanpix/Keld Navntoft via REUTERS
- Former congressional aide Amy Lappos, 43, of Connecticut, alleged that former Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately at a political fundraiser in 2009.
- “It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos said to The Hartford Courant on Monday. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
- Lappos said she did not file a complaint at the time because Biden “was the vice president” and she was “a nobody.”
- Lappos explained she was coming out with her account after she became “disappointed” with the Democratic Party and the way it treated Lucy Flores, another woman who accused Biden of unwanted physical contact.
A second woman publicly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of making unwanted physical contact – and she pushed back against the suggestion that certain types of behavior are merely “grandpa-like” or “friendly” behavior.
Amy Lappos, 43, of Connecticut alleged that Vice President Joe Biden grabbed her head to rub noses at a 2009 fundraiser for Rep. Jim Himes, whom she formerly worked for as a congressional aide.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos claimed in an interview with The Hartford Courant on Monday. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Lappos said she didn’t file a complaint at the time because Biden “was the vice president” and she was “a nobody.”
But Biden’s alleged actions still crossed a line, according to Lappos. The former aide noted that she wanted to her account to be taken seriously amid rumors of his potential run in the 2020 US presidential election.
“There’s absolutely a line of decency,” Lappos said to The Courant. “There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
A Democratic donor who was at the event told The Courant he didn’t witness any “inappropriate” behavior from Biden.
On Monday, Lappos released a statement explaining her decision to make her account public, saying she was “disappointed” with the Democratic party and the way it treated Lucy Flores, another woman who accused Biden of unwanted physical contact. She also said the idea that this type of contact is “grandpa-like” or “friendly” was “dismissive and part of the problem.”
“I stand by Lucy and any woman with the courage to come forward regarding inappropriate behavior by men,” Lappos said in a statement. “Uninvited affection is not okay.”
“If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” she added. “The same goes for the other men who have thrown their hat in the ring.”
- Screenshot via CNN
Flores, a former Nevada Assemblywoman and the 2014 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada, alleged Biden had grasped her shoulders and kissed the back of her head.
“He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head,” she wrote in New York Magazine. “My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”
Following Flores’ account of the incident, Biden said he did not believe he had acted inappropriately at the time.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
Bill Russo, Biden’s spokesperson, suggested on Monday that the accusations may have influenced by a broader smear campaign fueled by trolls from the “dark recesses of the internet.” Russo cited several unflattering photos of Biden that were apparently photoshopped, including a photo of him holding a woman’s shoulders and kissing Democratic Sen. Chris Coons’ daughter on the head.
“These smears and forgeries have existed in the dark recesses of the internet for a while,” Russo said. “And to this day, right wing trolls and others continue to exploit them for their own gain.”
“There are other, even more insidious examples of claims about the Vice President that have no foundation: the use of photoshopped images and other manipulations of social media,” he added. “Perhaps most galling of all, a cropped photo of the Vice President comforting his grandson outside of his son Beau’s funeral has been used to further this false narrative.”