Joe Biden on Tuesday for the first time addressed an insinuation by Donald Trump Jr., in the guise of a joke, that he was an abuser of children.
“It’s sick,” Biden said during a Yahoo News virtual town hall. “It’s sick. But he is his father’s son.”
Over the weekend, Donald Trump Jr. posted and reposted memes on his social media channels portraying the presumptive Democratic president nominee as a pedophile.
The “Creepy Joe” meme had been circulating on right-wing forums and online among President Trump's supporters. Accusations that prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, were involved in an international child-smuggling and pedophilia ring date back to the 2016 presidential election and inspired a notorious attack in a Washington pizzeria where the fictitious ring was headquartered.
Trump Jr. insisted he was joking in the post, which consisted in part of an alligator saying to Biden “In a while, pedophile.”
“What he’s trying to do is get something going on the Internet. Just try to get it going,” Biden said. "Say it enough like his father says. If you say it enough people believe it.”
Asked how his campaign would combat such tactics in the upcoming election, the former vice president said he had no plans to do so.
“No, I don't want to get down in the mud with these guys,” Biden said. “I mean, look, people know who I am. The good news is the bad news. They know me. They know my faults, talents. They know me. So it’s hard to lay on me some of the things that are just out of sync with anything in my whole life that anyone has ever said in their life. But this is bizarre.”
NEW: @JoeBiden responds to President Trump's "OBAMAGATE" tweets— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) May 19, 2020
"This is his pattern. Diversion, diversion, diversion...don't speak to whatever the issues before us are. My God, Obamagate!" https://t.co/HLxXa6benp pic.twitter.com/6a289Vi4tC
Biden was also asked about President Trump's efforts to push the so-called Obamagate conspiracy, which revolves around a vague allegation that the former president illegally tried to sabotage the Trump campaign, or was involved in an effort to entrap Trump’s adviser Michael Flynn into lying to the FBI. Trump has referred to the invented scandal numerous times in recent weeks, although when a reporter asked him to specify what it was about he declined.
“This is his pattern. Diversion, diversion, diversion,” Biden said. “Don't speak to whatever the issues before us are. My God, Obamagate!”
On Twitter later Tuesday night, Trump Jr. insisted he never accused Biden of pedophilia.
“I didn’t actually accuse you of that,” Trump Jr. tweeted. “I simply posted a joke meme, but based on all the touching and hair sniffing in the below video, I am 100% accusing you of being creepy as hell.”
Several women have said Biden did things in social situations that made them uncomfortable, for which he has apologized, but he has never been accused of inappropriate conduct around children. One former Senate staffer, Tara Reade, has accused him of groping her nearly 30 years ago. Biden has emphatically denied the charges.
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