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Joe Biden's presidential hopes face crisis as second accuser details unwanted touching

Joe Biden's presidential hopes face crisis as second accuser details unwanted touchingJoe Biden is facing the first major crisis of an as-yet-unannounced presidential bid after a second woman accused him of unwanted touching and Democrats debated if the claims should disqualify him. The former US vice president was said to have pulled a woman’s head towards him to “rub noses” at a political event – an allegation that emerged just days after a similar claim became public.  Amy Lappos, the former congressional aide who made the accusation, said the behaviour was not “sexual” but it was inappropriate and called on Mr Biden not to seek the White House.  The developments have put Mr Biden’s conduct around some women, which supporters describe as affectionate but critics call “handsy”, in the spotlight and raised questions about his presidential hopes.  Mr Biden comfortably tops polls for who should win the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination to take on Donald Trump, though the vote is still 20 months away.   Amy Lappos, central in black and white top, and Joe Biden, left, at an event in October 2009 Credit: Courtesy of Amy Lappos However unlike more than a dozen rival candidates, Mr Biden has waited before jumping into the ring – though an announcement is widely expected and could come within weeks.  Nancy Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, treadled a careful line on Tuesday when addressing the claims, aware of the political implications of her reaction.  She said the claims should not “disqualify” Mr Biden from running for office but urged him to reconsider his behaviour in the future.  “I’ve known Joe Biden a long time. My grandchildren love Joe Biden. I mean he’s an affectionate person, to children, to senior citizens, to everyone. That’s just the way he is,” Ms Pelosi said.  However she urged him to join the “straight arm club” by meeting people with a handshake.  “He has to understand in the world that we’re in now that people’s space is important to them. And what’s important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it," she said.  Lucy Flores said that Joe Biden had acted inappropriately at a political event in 2014 Credit: AP Photo/John Locher Democratic 2020 candidates also offered nuanced responses to the allegations, stating that they believed the women but stopping short of calling for Mr Biden not to launch a bid.  Sen. Kamala Harris of California said she believed his accusers but that it's up to Mr Biden to decide whether to run. Over the weekend, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Mr Biden "needs to give an answer" about what occurred. Another 2020 hopeful, Kirsten Gillibrand, said: "If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is a topic he'll have to engage on further." Ms Lappos’s account emerged on Monday after she posted about her experience online and later gave an interview to the Connecticut newspaper The Hartford Courant.  The incident occurred at a 2009 political fundraiser Greenwich, Connecticut, when Mr Biden was vice president and Ms Lappos was an aide to congressman Jim Himes.  She told the paper: "It wasn't sexual, but he did grab me by the head. He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.” She added: “There's absolutely a line of decency. There's a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It's not cultural. It's not affection. It's sexism or misogyny." Joe Biden's talks to customers during a stop at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio, in 2012 Credit: AP A few days before the claim emerged, another woman, Lucy Flores, said Mr Biden had once put his hands on her shoulders, smelt her hair and kissed the back of her head at a political event.  “Yes, of course, I want him to change his behavior. And I want him to acknowledge it was wrong,” Ms Flores said in an interview about the incident, which happened in 2014 when she was running as a Democrat to be Nevada lieutenant governor.  The claims have led to days of debate on cable news channels about Mr Biden’s behaviour in light of the MeToo movement, which triggered a watershed moment in the discussion about sexual harassment. In a lengthy statement issued after the first accusation and reportedly shared when approached about the second, Mr Biden denied acting inappropriately.  Part of the statement read: "In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. “I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. 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.” Donald Trump took a shot  Mr Biden on Tuesday, mocking him over the allegations. Former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter makes remarks as his wife Stephanie listens with  Joe Biden Credit: Getty In a speech to a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the US president twice alluded to the claims. Mr Trump told the dinner, which raised $ 23 million for Republicans running for the House of Representatives, a story about wanting to kiss a general he met in Iraq who had promised an expedient end to a campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria. "I said, 'General: come here and give me a kiss.' I felt like Joe Biden," Mr Trump said, drawing laughter and applause. Earlier, he told the crowd – which was dotted with members of the House – that they would be "going into the war with some socialists" in the next election. "It looks like the only non-, sort of, heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists," Mr Trump said. The President, who  has denied multiple accusations of sexual misconduct on his part, said: "Welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe?"



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President Trump announces the Second Step Act to aid Americans with criminal records reenter society successfully

President Trump announces the Second Step Act to aid Americans with criminal records reenter society successfullyRaw video: The president makes the announcement during the open media portion of the 2019 Prison Reform Summit.



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Second woman claims Joe Biden touched her inappropriately

Second woman claims Joe Biden touched her inappropriatelyA Connecticut woman said Joe Biden touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her at a 2009 political fundraiser, becoming the second person in three days to accuse the former vice president of unwanted physical contact as he considers a White House run. "It wasn't sexual, but he did grab me by the head," Amy Lappos, 43, told the Hartford Courant on Monday of her encounter with Biden at a Greenwich, Connecticut, event. "He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth." Lappos posted about the alleged incident in a Connecticut Women in Politics Facebook group on Sunday in response to an account by former Nevada state legislator Lucy Flores, who last week accused Biden of kissing her on the back of the head at a 2014 event. The allegations could endanger a possible 2020 presidential run by Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama at the time of both alleged instances. He has been expected to announce a Democratic White House bid in the coming weeks and has been leading the Democratic presidential field in opinion polls. Asked about the Connecticut allegation, a Biden spokesman pointed to Biden's statement on Sunday, when he said he did not believe he ever acted inappropriately during his many years in public life and on the campaign trail. The allegations could hurt Biden's chances if he were to run for the Whitehouse in 2020 – which he is excepted to announce in the coming weeks Credit: REUTERS "I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately," Biden said in the statement. "If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention." Biden has long been known for a warm and intimate campaign style, but his propensity for hugging and physical touching has come under new scrutiny in the MeToo era as awareness about sexual assault and harassment has grown. Lappos, a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim Himes, told the Courant she felt uncomfortable when Biden approached her at a fundraiser for Himes. She said she was in the kitchen with three or four other volunteers when Biden moved toward her. "I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody," said Lappos, who is now a freelance worker with nonprofit agencies. "There's absolutely a line of decency. There's a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It's not cultural. It's not affection. It's sexism or misogyny." Lappos did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters. Some Biden supporters rallied to his defense. Elizabeth Alexander, a former Senate and White House aide to Biden, wrote in a USA Today column that he supported women and was a champion for their rights even when it was not politically expedient.



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Second woman says ex-VP Biden touched her inappropriately

Second woman says ex-VP Biden touched her inappropriately“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Amy Lappos, 43, told the Hartford Courant on Monday of her encounter with Biden at a Greenwich, Connecticut, event. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.” Lappos posted about the alleged incident in a Connecticut Women in Politics Facebook group on Sunday in response to an account by former Nevada state legislator Lucy Flores, who last week accused Biden of kissing her on the back of the head at a 2014 event. The allegations could endanger a possible 2020 presidential run by Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama at the time of both alleged instances.



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Joe Biden allegations: Second woman accuses former vice-president of unwanted touching

Joe Biden allegations: Second woman accuses former vice-president of unwanted touchingA second woman has accused Joe Biden of unwanted touching, as another rushed to defend the US former vice president against a “misleading” photograph. Amy Lappos claimed that Mr Biden “put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses”“When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth," she told The Hartford Courant newspaper. Ms Lappos said she met Mr Biden when she was working as a volunteer for Democrat Jim Hines. In a separate Facebook post, she called the exchange at a 2009 fundraiser, an “incredibly uncomfortable situation”. Her claims came days after Lucy Flores, a former Democratic politician in Nevada, claimed in The Cut that Mr Biden kissed the back of her head during a campaign stop. She wrote that the interaction between her and the former vice president was a “violation of my personal space,” but that it did not rise to the level of sexual misconduct or a form of assault. “As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’” Ms Flores said. “I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified.”While some have criticised Mr Biden for being too physical with female colleagues, supporters and others, others have said pictures showing him with his hands around women are “misleading”. Stephanie Carter, who is the wife of former Defence Secretary Ashton B Carter, wrote an article for the Medium website defending the 76-year-old after photo of an exchange between the pair went viral after Ms Flores’ allegations surfaced.“Let me state upfront that I don’t know [Flores], but I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed,” she wrote. “But her story is not mine. She added: "The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.”Meanwhile, Ms Carter said she was “uncharacteristically nervous” the day the photo was take on her and Mr Biden, as she had fallen on ice outside of the Pentagon before the event took place. Mr Biden noticed her worrying, she wrote, and “quickly gave me a hug.” She added the vice president “kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support.” Mr Biden denied he had acted “inappropriately” towards Ms Flores in a statement, but said he would “listen respectfully” to women sharing their stories. He did not respond to Ms Lappos’ claims but did offer general sympathy for women who have expressed discomfort with his interactions.“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately," he said. "If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. 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."



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Second survivor of Parkland shooting dies in 'apparent suicide', reports say

Second survivor of Parkland shooting dies in 'apparent suicide', reports sayA second survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has died, police have confirmed. The Coral Springs Police Department was quoted in US media as saying the student had died in an “apparent suicide” on Saturday. Sydney Aiello, who was a student at the school when the shooting occurred, died last Sunday.



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'A punch in the nose for Boeing': Second fatal crash raises questions about plane's safety

'A punch in the nose for Boeing': Second fatal crash raises questions about plane's safetyA second crash in less that 4 1/2 months involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane raises questions about the new aircraft's safety.



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Second Boeing 737 Max Crash in Five Months Kills 157 in Ethiopia

Second Boeing 737 Max Crash in Five Months Kills 157 in EthiopiaFlight ET302 plunged to the ground minutes after leaving Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The pilot reported problems shortly after takeoff and was given clearance to return to the airport, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebre Mariam said at a press conference. The 737 Max 8 hadn’t experienced any apparent mechanical issues on an earlier flight from Johannesburg, he said.



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As many as 70 UK opposition Labour lawmakers oppose second Brexit referendum: lawmaker

As many as 70 UK opposition Labour lawmakers oppose second Brexit referendum: lawmakerAs many as 70 of Britain’s opposition Labour lawmakers oppose holding a second Brexit referendum, Labour lawmaker Caroline Flint said on Sunday. Earlier this week Labour said it would back a second referendum in order to try to prevent either a ‘no deal’ or Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal. “I think there are something like 60-70 Labour members of Parliament who feel as strongly as I do against a second referendum,” said Flint, who represents an area of Britain which voted to leave the EU at the 2016 referendum.



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5 Key Moments From Trump and Kim's Second Summit

5 Key Moments From Trump and Kim's Second SummitThey reached no new deal



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