Biden "touching" accusation spurs defense of former vice president

By Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

Biden denies inappropriate behavior

As former Vice President Joe Biden faces criticism that he had inappropriately touched a former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores at a 2014 campaign event, two people have come forward with their own stories defending him.

Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter who served in the Obama-Biden administration, penned a personal essay on the website "Medium," in which she wrote that she wanted to "reclaim" the story of her own interaction with Biden, one that was photographed and deemed questionable by many who viewed the picture on social media.

The photo, taken on February 17, 2015, showed Carter during her husband's swearing-in ceremony at the White House. Carter described the overwhelming moment as nerve-wracking, and said that Biden gave her a hug during the proceedings. Afterwards, Biden leaned in to tell Carter, "Thank you for letting him do this," and to offer his support. It was that moment, Carter writes, that was "misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out out in a snarky tweet."

United States Vice President Joe Biden talks to Stephanie Carter (R) as her husband Ash Carter (not pictured) delivers his acceptance speech as the new Secretary of Defense at the White House in Washington February 17, 2015. Carter served as the deputy defense secretary, the department's number two position, from 2011 to 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

"His attempt to support me had become a joke and even more — supposed proof positive that he didn't understand how to respect women," Carter wrote.

The picture has since re-circulated on social media in light of Flores' account of her encounter with Biden, in which she claims he kissed the back of her head without her consent. Carter said that while she "absolutely supports" Flores decision to "speak her truth" she maintains that the Biden she knows and was photographed in the situation in question "is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful."

It's the same sentiment that Biden confidant Sen. Chris Coons said his daughter experienced after a similar swearing-in ceremony. A video of Biden swearing in his fellow Delaware Democrat to the Senate, flanked by his family, went viral in 2015 after his daughter Maggie made an uncomfortable looking face just as Biden kissed her on the head and whispered in her ear.

New Congress Senate
Vice President Joe Biden leans in to say something to Maggie Coons, next to her father Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., after Biden administered the Senate oath to Coons during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber of Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

While the image has also been deemed by Biden critics as inappropriate, Coons told the Washington Post that his daughter views the former vice president as more of a "grandfather figure." He said Biden was merely whispering "praise for her composure and offering to connect her with his own daughter so that they could talk about the challenge of having fathers in the political spotlight. She was not bothered," Coons said.

Flores' story comes as Biden prepares to make a final decision on whether or not to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. On Sunday, Biden said in a statement that he did not believe he ever "acted inappropriately," but vowed to listen to suggestions saying otherwise.

The Biden team has issued a statement on Monday, condemning the so-called controversies as "insidious," and as "smears" and "forgeries" against the former vice president, carried out by "right wing trolls" looking to exploit the Biden family "for their own gain."

First published on April 1, 2019 / 1:53 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

United States Vice President Biden talks to Stephanie Carter, wife of new US Secretary of Defense in Washington New Congress Senate

NASA astronauts "super excited" about moon mission

Three space station crew members say they'll be ready for a trip to the moon if NASA can pull it off

15M ago

Biden "touching" accusation spurs defense of former VP

Reports that Biden inappropriately touched a woman in 2014 have moved the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Sen. Chris Coons to speak out in his defense

18M ago

Measles cases so far this year exceed all of 2018

The number of cases of measles cases in the U.S. could be on track to break records

37M ago

Doctors warn of dangers of kids swallowing magnets

High-powered magnets from toys and desk accessories can cause especially dangerous internal injuries

39M ago

Biden accuser Lucy Flores says she'd still support Biden over Trump

"That's not even a question, of course I would support Biden," Lucy Flores says

39M ago

Biden "touching" accusation spurs defense of former VP

Reports that Biden inappropriately touched a woman in 2014 have moved the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Sen. Chris Coons to speak out in his defense

18M ago

Biden accuser Lucy Flores says she'd still support Biden over Trump

"That's not even a question, of course I would support Biden," Lucy Flores says

39M ago

How Barbara Bush overcame tragedy, depression

Author Susan Page on the remarkable life of the only woman in U.S. history to advise both a husband and son during their presidencies

2H ago

Biden denies acting "inappropriately" with women, but vows to "listen"

The former vice president said he "may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised by what I hear"

2H ago

All the bizarre things the TSA found in passengers' luggage

The TSA is carrying on the legacy of a man who posted the odd findings on social media

3H ago

Japan's new pop-up poop museum proves a hit

The Unko Museum drew 10,000 visitors in its 1st week as it aims to lift the lid on a taboo topic

3H ago

Jim Carrey's new painting enrages Mussolini's granddaughter

Actor tweeted a warning against fascism with his latest artwork, depicting the WWII dictator hanging by his feet after his 1945 execution

4H ago

Saudis involved in hack of Jeff Bezos cellphone, security chief says

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, denies investigator's report, says no third party was involved

5H ago

"You are not numbers to us": On the front lines of the migrant caravans

"Where should we put these people, our migrant brothers?" worries an activist whose job has recently gotten much harder

7H ago

Cholera outbreak after cyclone in Mozambique is now a killer

1st death confirmed from easily-treated disease and officials say number of cases rising quickly, with hundreds of thousands at risk

7H ago

R. Kelly lawyer says Avenatti charges raise questions about case

Attorney Michael Avenatti has been accused of trying to shake down Nike

updated 4M ago

Jim Carrey's new painting enrages Mussolini's granddaughter

Actor tweeted a warning against fascism with his latest artwork, depicting the WWII dictator hanging by his feet after his 1945 execution

4H ago

Rapper Nipsey Hussle fatally shot in Los Angeles

The 33-year-old rapper, born Ermias Asghedom, was widely known for his grind as an independent artist

4H ago

A visit to the Metropol, star of "A Gentleman in Moscow"

The 110-year-old art nouveau hotel has welcomed countless famed guests in its day, but one of its most famous is fictional, the protagonist of Amor Towles' bestselling novel

Mar 31

Return to "The Twilight Zone"

A look at Rod Serling's classic science fiction, horror and fantasy anthology series, and its latest incarnation produced and hosted by Jordan Peele

21H ago

NASA astronauts "super excited" about moon mission

Three space station crew members say they'll be ready for a trip to the moon if NASA can pull it off

15M ago

Green meteor lights up sky in Florida, Georgia

Videos show the fireball as it fell to Earth, producing a bright green light

5H ago

Saudis involved in hack of Jeff Bezos cellphone, security chief says

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, denies investigator's report, says no third party was involved

5H ago

Can America produce a 21st century "moonshot"?

Historian Douglas Brinkley on JFK's famous call to send a man to the moon – and what a patriotic "moonshot" directive might mean for our country today

Mar 31

Biomimicry: Turning to nature for technological solutions

With four billion years of R&D, the natural world offers scientists time-tested answers to addressing problems facing mankind

Mar 31

Measles cases so far this year exceed all of 2018

The number of cases of measles cases in the U.S. could be on track to break records

37M ago

Doctors warn of dangers of kids swallowing magnets

High-powered magnets from toys and desk accessories can cause especially dangerous internal injuries

39M ago

Raw pet food companies are in FDA's doghouse

More pet owners are buying raw pet food because they believe it's "ancestral" — but regulators cite safety concerns

2H ago

6-year-old dies of heart attack while taking baseball photos

The boy was on the field to take a team photo, and then he collapsed

5H ago

Cholera outbreak after cyclone in Mozambique is now a killer

1st death confirmed from easily-treated disease and officials say number of cases rising quickly, with hundreds of thousands at risk

7H ago

Raw pet food companies are in FDA's doghouse

More pet owners are buying raw pet food because they believe it's "ancestral" — but regulators cite safety concerns

2H ago

Kellogg selling Keebler cookies and related snacks to Ferrero for $1.3 billion

The company's cookies business, which included Keebler, Mother's, Famous Amos and Murray's, netted about $900 million last year

3H ago

Federal Reserve pick Stephen Moore cited for unpaid alimony

President Trump's choice for a Fed board position was found in contempt in 2012 for failing to pay $300,000

5H ago

Aramco profit: Saudi oil company pushes ahead of Apple as the world's most profitable company

The state-run oil company's profits reached $111 billion last year, far ahead of Apple's $60 billion in profits

5H ago

New York approves statewide plastic bag ban

Most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other stores will be banned statewide starting March 1, 2020

6H ago

El Chapo's wife set to launch fashion line with drug lord's brand

The convicted drug lord and his wife have stylish future plans: Creating clothing with the brand name "El Chapo."

59M ago

R. Kelly lawyer says Avenatti charges raise questions about case

Attorney Michael Avenatti has been accused of trying to shake down Nike

updated 4M ago

Slain student's mom blasts suspect: "Does he even know her name?"

The mother of Samantha Josephson, who was killed after she mistook the suspect's car for her Uber ride, pleads with the judge to put Nathaniel David Rowland away for life

3H ago

Teen fatally shot after knocking on the wrong door in Atlanta

Omarian Banks, 19, accidentally knocked on the wrong apartment door in Atlanta when he was killed

4H ago

Rapper Nipsey Hussle fatally shot in Los Angeles

The 33-year-old rapper, born Ermias Asghedom, was widely known for his grind as an independent artist

4H ago  Original Article