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Biden inner circle rallies to defense of senior aide accused of sexual harassment

Biden's inner circle and former colleagues of a top White House aide accused of sexual harassment came to his defense in statements given to Fox News Digital.

EXCLUSIVE: President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden’s inner circle and former colleagues rallied to the defense of a top aide accused of sexual harassment in statements provided to Fox News Digital. 

Nearly a dozen current and former colleagues of Anthony Bernal, an assistant to the president and top aide to the first lady, have alleged he has a long-running history of bullying and verbal sexual harassment, including speculating on the penis sizes of staffers in conversations, which one individual described as an attempt “to make people feel uncomfortable and have power over them.”

The anonymous staffers told the New York Post, which first reported the allegations, that they came forward in hopes that Bernal would be held accountable for his actions. Some, however, remained skeptical and labeled him as “untouchable” due to his closeness to the first lady.


The White House and the first lady’s office did not directly answer Fox News Digital’s inquiries about whether Bernal would face an internal investigation into the matter. Instead, current and past members of Biden’s inner circle and former coworkers of Bernal provided statements to Fox News Digital defending his character in an attempt to counter the staffers’ charges.

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“Anthony is one of the most generous, conscientious, brilliant people working at the White House,” a White House official told Fox News Digital. “In the 20 years I’ve known him, I’ve never heard him to make comments like the ones alleged– in fact, he’s always been quite intentional and purposeful in making sure colleagues at every level feel valued and appreciated.”

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“I’ve worked with Anthony for almost 30 years — and I’ve always seen him act with the utmost professionalism and compassion toward his team,” Biden’s former chief of staff, Ron Klain, told Fox News Digital.

Several other former colleagues of Bernal also defended him. An ex-staffer in the first lady’s office who worked with him for the first two years of Biden’s administration said they have “a lot of respect for him as a leader and a colleague.”

“He has a good heart and always keeps the people we serve at the forefront of his decisions,” they said. “As one of the youngest staff in the office, he consistently asked for and valued my perspective and contributions.”

Another individual, who said they have worked closely with Bernal for almost 30 years in the government and the private sector, said he routinely supports coworkers “and pushes them to exceed their own expectations to deliver extraordinary results.”

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“All the while, he relentlessly exemplifies that family comes first, and the highest form of public service is to find more to give,” they added. “Anthony’s expectations are set high, but his grace is even higher. He is truly the epitome of a public servant-leader.”

A separate long-time colleague, who said they have known and worked with Bernal for more than 15 years, said they have never heard him “utter an inappropriate word to anyone – ever.”

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“The White House is a demanding workplace requiring the best efforts of all its employees, and Anthony’s leadership has helped me and many others maximize our abilities,” they said. “He challenged me to be better than I ever thought I could be, and as a result I’m a far better person and co-worker because of that interaction.”

The New York Post reported last week that the allegations against Bernal, who is openly gay, included him sharing his view with staffers that a person’s thumb size correlates with their penis size. He allegedly did so in the current White House, in prior roles in the Biden campaign and during Biden’s vice presidency.

“It is to make people uncomfortable and to have power over them,” one source told the Post. “It is Me Too – classic Me Too.”

Additional sources told the Post that Bernal told a colleague he had a small penis during a disagreement. He remarked on a “staffer’s bulge in his khakis” in another occurrence.

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“It was a lot of inappropriate remarks — talking about other people’s attractiveness and speculating about their sex lives at very weird moments,” the source told the Post. “That’s actually sexual harassment.”

The sources also said that Bernal would routinely question people’s sexuality and would attempt to pry into their personal lives.

Following the report, a former top Biden aide, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital that the allegations within the Post’s report aligned with what they experienced while working in the administration.

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“I’m surprised it has taken this long for so many staffers to speak out,” they said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if this empowered current and past staff to move forward.”

The former aide also believed “a dozen sources seem like enough to trigger that type of internal investigation.”

Biden, meanwhile, has said he would not tolerate such actions within his orbit.

“I am not joking when I say this: if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect or talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Biden said on his first day in office. “On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” 

The White House and the first lady’s office did not answer whether they believe Bernal’s alleged actions violated Biden’s pledge.

The Bidens indirectly addressed the issue through a statement from the president’s chief of staff, Jeff Zeints, who told the Post that he and the Bidens have “full confidence in Anthony’s character.”

“His many fans at the White House know him to be both gracious and tough, holding himself up to the highest standards, with a heart dedicated to public service,” Zients said. “It is disappointing that he is the target of unfounded attacks from unnamed sources.”

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