The Biden campaign on Wednesday hired Karine Jean-Pierre, a commentator and former communications director for the left-wing activist group Move On, as a senior adviser -- even though less than three years ago, she asserted that sexual misconduct allegations are disqualifying for all candidates for office.
Biden stands accused of sexual assault, which he has denied, along with previously reported incidents of inappropriate touching. The allegations have led to some uncomfortable moments as Biden's defenders, including academics and media figures, have been confronted with their past comments during Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation fight in 2018.
“I think we're at a point in time in this country where the '#MeToo' movement has really gotten some traction, we’re finally listening to victims, whether they’re women or men," Jean-Pierre told CNN's Jake Tapper in December 2017, when asked if #MeToo had gone too far. "And I think if you’re running for office, you can’t have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. And I think that we really have to take that next step here and make sure that doesn't happen with anyone in office or out of office."
Jean-Pierre went on to call President Trump "very misogynistic." She was responding to the case of Andrea Ramsey, whom Tapper introduced as a former Kansas congressional candidate who dropped out of the race "after news emerged that there was a 2005 lawsuit in which a man accused her of sexual harassment." Ramsey denied the claim, and said that "in its rush to claim the high ground in a roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard."
Jean-Pierre didn't respond to Fox News' request for comment on Wednesday, and the Biden campaign did not immediately comment. Her statements to Tapper, however, matched her previous rhetoric on the #MeToo movement.
On April 27, 2018, for example, she wrote simply: "Believe Women."
"It’s incredibly difficult to come forward with stories of attacks and violence, especially in such a public," she wrote on Sept. 16, 2018, concerning Christine Blasey Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh. "We need to support and believe women."
She later added that Kavanaugh's accusers "have nothing to gain and everything to lose."
On Sept. 23, 2018, she tweeted: "#BelieveSurvivors."
On Oct. 9, 2018, she concluded: "These white males are not victims: Donald Trump was accused of sexual assault and became President of the United States. Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and became a US Supreme Court Justice." (That comment prompted blogger Jim Treacher to recently reply: "And now you work for Joe Biden.")
Other top Biden staffers reportedly scrubbed their Twitter feeds of her comments about believing women during the Kavanaugh saga, including Symone Sanders.
However, videos have resurfaced showing Sanders arguing that "it doesn't matter" that she had no evidence to support Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh, saying: "I believe Christine Ford because, to come forward, she has no -- um, there are no enticements to come forward and have her life destroyed. ... There's no incentive for her to come forward except to tell the truth and do her due diligence."
This year, Sanders somewhat changed her tone, saying women deserve to have their claims "looked into" but not necessarily believed, even when they lack apparent enticements to come forward.
Apparent hypocrisy on the issue was not limited to political operatives. On Wednesday, Columbia Law School -- which was essentially united in opposition to Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation in 2018 -- played host to Biden as he delivered a virtual commencement address. The once-vocal advocates for women's rights and the #MeToo movement at New York City's only Ivy League law school, though, have a starkly different view toward Biden.
Instead, the Columbia Law School's dean, Gillian Lester, issued a statement praising Biden for setting an "example" as a "leader, lawyer and public servant." Asked to explain the change in tone on campus, the law school's press office declined to comment to Fox News.
However, in one-on-one interviews with Fox News, several Columbia Law School faculty members made clear the topic was a sensitive one -- and that they had no intention of criticizing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
For example, Avery W. Katz, formerly a vice dean at the law school whom Columbia currently bills as a "Professor of Organizational Character," lashed out when Fox News pointed out that he signed the open letter in the New York Times calling for Kavanaugh's nomination to be pulled in 2018 amid sexual assault allegations. Asked whether he had concerns about Biden's appearance at the university, Katz responded that the question "didn't sound like a genuine inquiry" and seemed "argumentative" -- and then escalated his complaint further.