Politics

Brzezinski: Can We Talk About Biden Accuser Being a ‘Huge Bernie Person?’

Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Monday whether it was relevant to point out the Nevada Democrat accusing Joe Biden of unwanted touching is a "huge Bernie person" amid a larger discussion of what the hosts deemed unfair negative coverage of the former vice president.

Flores, the 2014 Nevada Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, said Biden kissed her on the head and touched her in a way that made her feel "gross" before a campaign event that year. Flores wrote about the experience in New York Magazine on Friday and told CNN on Sunday she wanted Biden to "acknowledge it was wrong." Biden has been viewed in public on numerous occasions kissing and touching women in a questionable manner.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.) told Morning Joe she was glad Flores felt she could come forward and said it would be up to Biden and other political figures to "change their behavior." Scarborough, who has expressed agitation on Twitter with negative stories about Biden's political past as he mulls a run for president, asked Clark if she thought Biden was an "honorable man."

"Yes, I think he is," she said. "I think we look at his service. I think we look at where his values are. Joe Biden has always been very clear about that."

After Clark's interview ended, Brzezinski wondered if it was appropriate to discuss the larger implications of the accusation by Flores, a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Biden is consistently leading polls of 2020 Democrats, although he has not begun a campaign yet, and Sanders is leading among declared candidates.

"A lot of folks will say that women need to be believed and heard, and I believe they should be heard," Brzezinski said. "But are we allowed to bring up that Lucy Flores is a huge Bernie person? And she has political connections that might be counter to Biden's goals? … Is it OK to bring up this could be politically motivated? Or are we just supposed to take all the words and the fact she said she was violated at face value? Are we supposed to just leave it there and have this sort of attack on his credibility and his honor? Just sit there, or are we allowed to talk about it?"

Flores supported Sanders for president in 2016 and has served on the board of Our Revolution, the pro-Sanders advocacy organization.

Scarborough quipped Brzezinski could bring it up but could expect a major response on Twitter.

"There needs to be that level of accountability in our political system and also just generally speaking now as we move forward. Women should have agency in their own personal space and on their own bodies," Brzezinski said.

"The conversation has to be had," Scarborough said. "It has to be an open conversation, as you've been saying and as other people have been saying, the argument all women must be believed, period … That was the argument when Al Franken was run out of town, when what Donald Trump has done is so much more abhorrent. That conversation seems to have been moving along."

He said he may not be able to say those words as a man, but he ripped Democrats turning on Biden and said it would be a way to help Donald Trump win in 2020.

"Just as an observer, that conversation has moved along to women need to be believed, women need to be heard, but there has to be due process out there," Scarborough said. "You've got to hear both sides. What I heard this past weekend was after the initial rush of stories is all women should be believed, all women should be heard, but then all men should be heard. There has to be due process. There has to be some balance … If you take a man who's committed his entire lifetime to the Democratic Party, and then you say he is a racist and he is a misogynist, and that he is the Democrats' answer to Donald Trump? That's just deeply offensive, and that's just wrong, and that's a wonderful way to help reelect Donald Trump."

"Yeah," Brzezinski said.

"By Democrats eating their own and actually trying to call a man who was Barack Obama's vice president for eight years a racist and a misogynist. That's over the line," Scarborough said.

Brzezinski earlier in the program called Biden a friend and said he is "extremely flirtatious in a completely safe way."

Brzezinski apologized in 2017 after she said on the air she had sought to connect former MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin with women who had accused him of sexual harassment, lamenting the "hypocrisies" when men weren't allowed to atone for misconduct. She and Scarborough have been critical of the rush to judgment that led to the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) that year, comparing his alleged misconduct to the numerous accusations against Trump.

Brzezinski also told the press to "step back" last year and said she was "disturbed" by the coverage of the sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Biden released a statement on Sunday, saying he never believed he had acted inappropriately in the countless times he's given handshakes, hugs, and other signs of affection in public.

"I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear," he said. "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."