Judge paves way for Delaware trial over Biden statement

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Biden apologized for his White House op-ed in January

Joe Biden’s potential run for the Democratic presidential nomination could be stained by a former aide.

A Delaware judge told lawyers for the former US vice-president and wife Jill that they can seek money damages for defamation if asked to testify about a tweet he posted in 2015.

An expert told the BBC’s News At Ten program that the case could have wider ramifications than the case against Pat Toomey , the Republican senator accused of sexual misconduct .

Judge J. Michael Wetzel said Delaware has the strongest defamation laws in the country and described it as an “iffy” case.

Related: Biden threatened staff during campaign?

Bo Biden, Joe Biden’s son, has been sued by a White separatist who alleges that his writings about vice-president Joe Biden’s “precipitous fall” from grace were part of an effort to “mislead the public”.

In his 2015 book “Land of the Free”, written in the wake of the publication of a speech by Mr Biden in which he condemned white supremacists, Bo said his father’s plans to run for the 2016 presidential nomination had “humiliated him and many of his family, including his wife and children”.

Sensitivity

Bo Biden is engaged in a separate defamation lawsuit against The Philadelphia Inquirer, which he has alleged has published libellous statements and opinion pieces regarding him and his associates.

Bo Biden’s lawyers say that they are pursuing these cases because of reputational harm to Bo’s sons and siblings, and to his desire to be able to state the truth about his former boss.

They point to an essay in Bo’s book in which he called Mr Biden a “bigot, a liar, a hypocrite and a misogynist”.

Mr Biden has apologised for his White House op-ed in January, after a senior adviser to Donald Trump said in a tweet that Mr Biden was “so thrilled with our success in uniting the country”.

Related: Biden reports sexual harassment claims

Mr Biden is seeking to disqualify Pat Toomey as a Senate candidate because of his “miserable failure” to immediately report harassment complaints when he was a congressman.

Pat Toomey resigned in December 2005 after he was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a member of his staff.

In court filings , Mr Toomey’s lawyers say that he notified the House ethics committee of his conduct, but that Bo and Jill Biden have chosen to push forward with the lawsuit in order to “grandstand and gain attention”.

In a statement from Bo Biden after the judge’s decision, he said it was the “absolute height of irony” that a Senate candidate facing trial for sexual misconduct would “used the defamation statute against his father, who stood by him.”

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