Former Vice President Joe Biden has now been accused of touching another woman, in 2009, without her consent in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.
A Greenwich, Connecticut woman says the alleged incident occurred a fundraiser for Democratic Congressman Jim Himes.
‘It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,’ Amy Lappos, 43, told The Hartford Courant. ‘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.’
The story told by the congressional aide amplified claims by White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and others that ‘Creepy Uncle Joe’ is disqualified from holding the presidency.
Biden launched an all-out defense of his conduct over the years with women on Monday as mounting allegations of inappropriate contact threatened to end his anticipated White House bid before it began.
Two incidents involving the wife of a former defense secretary and the daughter of a sitting senator are under refreshed scrutiny.
Other allegations against Biden that have emerged were ‘photoshopped’ and are ‘forgeries,’ said a spokesman for the potential presidential candidate in a lengthy statement.
‘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,’ Bill Russo claimed.
He argued that real pictures of Biden with women he appears to be touching inappropriately are ‘misleading’ and have been misconstrued as he fought off damaging allegations to the longtime public servant’s reputation.
He provided a link to a cropped photo of the former vice president comforting his grandson, Hunter, at son Beau Biden’s funeral in 2015.
Taken out of context and cropped, the former VP was accused of touching a child inappropriately by some social media users.
Another touched up photo appears to show Biden putting his hands on a woman’s breast. Both his hands are visibly on the woman’s shoulders. A third hand on her chest was photoshopped in.
The photos were making the rounds again on Sunday, as demonstrated by a tweet from a Trump supporter that Biden’s spokesman provided as evidence of his charge that the former vice president is being unfairly maligned.
A former Nevada politician first raised the issue of Biden’s intimate gestures toward women when he was in the White House. Lucy Flores said he made her feel uncomfortable when he kissed her on the head and put his hands on her shoulder before she went on stage at a campaign event.
‘I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’ Flores wrote. ‘I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f**k?”
She claimed, ‘He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.’
Flores does not allege that Biden sexually assaulted her. She told CNN that she merely wants to bring attention to what she sees as a whitewashing of Biden’s contact with women.
‘This isn’t the first time and wasn’t the only incident where he was acting inappropriately with women,’ Flores said on ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday. ‘There’s been documentation in photos, videos, stories that were written.’
She said, ‘Part of the reason why I finally decided to say something was those behaviors were not being taken very seriously. They were not being considered from the perspective of the woman on the other side of that power dynamic, on the receiving end.’
Flores says she had no prior relationship with Biden, who campaigned for her in 2014, that would make it appropriate for him to kiss her head and touch her shoulders the way he did.
‘You don’t expect that kind of intimate behavior from someone so powerful and someone who you just have no relationship whatsoever to, to touch you and feel you and be so close to you in that way,’ she said.
At first, the former VP’s spokesman said that neither Biden nor his staff had an ‘inkling’ that Flores was upset, and that none of them ‘recall’ such an incident taking place.
As the inferences that Biden, who could announce a presidential campaign any day, is not suited for office grew, the former Delaware senator apologized to Flores, a former lieutenant governor candidate, and anyone else who was offended.
He said he offered ‘countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort’ that may have been photographed — all of them innocent in nature.
Appearing on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ after the statement’s release, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said, ‘I think Joe Biden has a big problem here. Because he calls it an affection and handshake but his party calls it inappropriate.’
‘But all of these post-#MeToo allegations and insinuations really don’t comport with probably Joe Biden’s conduct over the years. If anybody just types in ‘Creepy Uncle Joe,” videos you come up with a treasure trove,’ Conway said of the potential challenger to his boss.
His spokesman claimed Monday, as the fallout continued that Flores’ references to documented instances of untoward behavior that ‘crossed a line between affectionate or supportive behavior and something—however unintentional—more inappropriate or unwelcome’ misconstrued the facts.
Russo brought up photos with Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and Sen. Chris Coons’ daughter, in which Biden appeared to be touching the women without their consent.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.’
Carter and Coons, a Deleware Democrat, have defended Biden in statements on the incidents.
‘She did not think of it as anything,’ he told The Washington Post. ‘All three of my kids have known Joe their whole lives.’
In a Medium post, the former secretary of defense’s wife said the still image of Biden’s hands on her shoulders while her husband was being sworn in as defense secretary has been taken out of context.
She said in the post that she was taking back the story behind the viral, 2015 photo of Biden putting his hands on her shoulders. Carter said she didn’t appreciate the attention she received as a result of the still shot that was ‘misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends’ and the ‘snarky’ tweets that ensued.
Russo quoted Carter in his long statement on Biden’s conduct on Monday afternoon.
‘So, one now-fabled photo was, in fact, ‘misleadingly extracted’ from a consoling ‘moment between close friends,’ and the other captured a grandfatherly word of praise and offer of support for the daughter of long-time friends of the Biden family,’ Russo said.
He said that media reports on the incidents were wrong then, and the photos should not be used by Flores or anyone else trying to establish a pattern of misconduct now.
‘In other words, the familiar characterizations of these two photos that have been uncritically perpetuated, turn out to be very false. The Carter and Coons accounts are not ‘updates’ of old stories: they are corrections of false ones,’ he argued.
Biden in a Sunday morning statement offered a blanket defense of the conduct that Flores described and and the ‘countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort’ that he’s provided as a friend and public servant over the years.
‘And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately,’ he said. ‘If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.’
He said he may not ‘recall these moments the same way’ that the women do.
‘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. I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women,’ the former vice president said. ‘I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve.’
Kendra Barkoff Lamy, spokeswoman for Biden when he was the VP, said in a Saturday tweet that she doesn’t recall the VP getting handsy or treating women inappropriately an any way when she worked for him.
‘I can say unequivocally that I was never uncomfortable with how he treated me or other women. He dedicated his career to women’s empowerment, safety & equality. That’s one reason why I worked for him,’ she stated.
Lappos did not return a request for comment from DailyMail.com but told the Hartford Courant, ‘I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody.
She said, ‘There’s absolutely a line of decency. 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.’
Biden’s current spokesman, Russo, declined to comment directly on the charge. He referred DailyMail.com to the VP’s weekend statement apologizing for anything he may have done at any time in his career that made a woman feel uncomfortable.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Francesca Chambers