Stephanie Carter, Wife Of Obama Defense Secretary, Says Biden Photo Is 'Misleading'

Stephanie Carter, whose husband is former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, rejected claims that a 2015 photo of her and then-Vice President Joe Biden shows inappropriate behavior and said the image was “misleadingly extracted” from a video.

Carter, in an essay published Sunday on Medium headlined “The #MeToo Story That Wasn’t Me,” said she wanted to “reclaim” the story of the photo, which shows Biden behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders and whispering into her ear. The picture was taken during Ash Carter’s White House swearing-in ceremony.

Biden, who reportedly plans a 2020 presidential run, has faced renewed scrutiny for his conduct with women since former Nevada assembly member Lucy Flores’ essay was published Friday in New York magazine’s The Cut, alleging that Biden inappropriately kissed her during her 2014 campaign for lieutenant governor. The claim revived Biden’s history of questionable public interactions with women and mixed record on women’s issues.

Then-Vice President Joe Biden with Stephanie Carter during Defense Secretary Ash Carter's swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 17, 2015. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Then-Vice President Joe Biden with Stephanie Carter during Defense Secretary Ash Carter's swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 17, 2015. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed,” Carter wrote of Flores’ claim. “But her story is not mine. 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.”

Carter said her photo with Biden shows a gesture of “support” after she became rattled during her husband’s ceremony.

“He could sense I was uncharacteristically nervous — and quickly gave me a hug. After the swearing in, as Ash was giving remarks, he leaned in to tell me ‘thank you for letting him do this’ and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support,” she wrote. “But a still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out in a snarky tweet — came to be the lasting image of that day.”

Flores mentioned the photo in her essay as an example of Biden “getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls.”

Biden responded to Flores in a statement Sunday, saying that “not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”

Read Carter’s full essay here.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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