Gov. Phil Murphy declined to comment on a sexual assault allegation leveled against former Vice President Joe Biden by a former aide.
“I’ve got literally no insight or no comment on questions two and three,” Murphy said when asked if he believed Biden or Tara Reade and whether he was concerned about the allegation against Biden affecting down-ballot races in the state.
Reade, who briefly served as an aide in Biden’s Senate office in the early 1990s, has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993. She claims Biden put his hand under her dress and penetrated her with his fingers.
Murphy’s response is a departure from the governor’s stance on a number of prominent sexual assault accusations that have surfaced during the first two years of his term.
In 2018, Murphy tweeted his support for Christine Blasey Ford, who accused now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982.
“Dr. Ford has extraordinary courage. The presumption that she is not telling the truth is unacceptable, and it should deeply anger us all. The Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment, so we need to get it right,” Murphy wrote on Twitter at the time. “I think Judge Kavanaugh should pack his bags and leave town, but barring that, no vote should take place until a full federal investigation into the claims against him has taken place.”
The Senate later approved Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a vote that largely fell along party lines.
Murphy also sided with State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan when she accused former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez of sexually assaulting her, though the governor and his administration have since faced bipartisan criticism over their handling of Brennan’s allegations.
Brennan had told top Murphy staffers of the alleged assault months before Alvarez resigned from his post, and that resignation was fueled more by a Wall Street Journal reporter’s inquiry than by an internal push within the front office.
While an independent report commissioned by the governor’s office did not identify who was responsible for Alvarez’s hiring, a legislative probe blamed Pete Cammarano, then Murphy’s chief of staff, and former transition director Jose Lozano for Alvarez’s hiring.
A report issued after the conclusion of the legislative investigation, which was led by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, said Murphy’s office mishandled Brennan’s assault allegation.
Murphy on Friday said that, while he and the former vice president have not spoken, his staff has been in communication with Biden’s team.
“I have not spoken with the vice president, although our teams are speaking regularly,” the governor said. “He and I just haven’t gotten one scheduled.”
Murphy is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.