Biden to speak about combating sexual assault, remains mum on Weinstein

Dems loved Weinstein before going silent
Dems loved Weinstein before going silent

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Story highlights

  • Joe Biden hasn't addressed the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations
  • Biden is outspoken on the issue of sexual assault

Washington (CNN)Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Rutgers University in New Jersey on Thursday about the "It's On Us" campaign against sexual violence on college campuses -- but he still hasn't discussed sexual harassment allegations made against film producer and Democratic Party donor Harvey Weinstein.

"It's On Us" is a program Biden and former President Barack Obama began in 2014 during their time in the White House. The movement, developed from recommendations issued by a White House-ordered task force, seeks to raise awareness and educate college students about the issue and what can be done to prevent it.
Biden has been making the rounds lately, campaigning for Democrats running for office and speaking at events held by progressive organizations. But this appearance at Rutgers is notable as it comes on the heels of the sexual harassment allegations being made against Weinstein -- a longtime Democratic Party supporter and donor.
    While many Democrats who have received donations from Weinstein, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, have announced their plans to return or donate that money, Biden has remained mum. He has not made any public statements about Weinstein since a report came out in The New York Times last week in which multiple women alleged predatory behavior by Weinstein stretching back over several years. Bill Russo, a spokesman for the former vice president, declined to comment too CNN.
    Three days after the report, Weinstein was fired by The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded. Other notable Democrats for whom Weinstein raised large sums of money -- including Obama -- have also not publicly addressed the allegations.
    Hillary Clinton, for whom Weinstein fundraised extensively during her 2016 campaign for president, remained silent on the issue for five days, but finally addressed the allegations Tuesday afternoon.
    "I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior," Clinton said in a statement.
    Weinstein raised $1.44 million for Clinton campaigns between 1990 and 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has been a longtime ally of the political family, and the Clintons rented a home next to Weinstein in the Hamptons in 2015.
    Biden's resurgence of the "It's On Us" campaign comes as the Trump administration has formally rescinded Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault under Title IX federal law. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last month that her department is concerned that previous guidance denied proper due process to those accused.
    The former vice president responded to the Department of Education in a video, citing "new challenges" when it comes to combating campus sexual assault.
    "You may have heard the progress we made, the additional protections we put in Title IX, which is now the law, that protects students from sexual discrimination -- that includes sexual violence," Biden says. "Now the Department of Education under new leadership is working to roll back the protections under Title IX that we worked so hard to put in place."
    Biden has also been outspoken against alleged lewd behavior by President Donald Trump, which Trump was caught describing in the infamous "Access Hollywood" audio tape that surfaced last year.
    In October 2016, while campaigning for Clinton, Biden said remarks by Trump on the tape about grabbing women by the genitals amounted to the "textbook definition of sexual assault."
    "His admission of what is the textbook definition of sexual assault," Biden said, adding that the Republican then-presidential nominee's comments were "not inconsistent with the way in which he's abused power all along."