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Valerie Jarrett says Biden's response to accusations was "just right"

Valerie Jarrett: Biden's response "just right"

Valerie Jarrett, the longtime adviser to former President Barack Obama, defended former Vice President Joe Biden from allegations by two women who said he touched them inappropriately, calling his response to the accusations "just right." 

"I think he was right to say that we have to listen to these women, we have to hear what they have to say. So I thought he hit it just right," Jarrett told CBSN's "Red & Blue" in a conversation about her new memoir, "Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward." 

Former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores wrote on Friday that Biden had "inhaled" her hair and kissed her head before a campaign rally in 2014. On Sunday, Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, said Biden held her face and rubbed noses with her at a fundraiser in Connecticut in 2009.

In a statement released Sunday, Biden said he never thought he acted inappropriately.

"In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort," Biden's statement said. "And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested that I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention."

Jarrett also said she never saw any instances of inappropriate behavior between Biden and female staffers in the White House, but said her opinion mattered less than that of the women who allege Biden made them uncomfortable.

"I think what's important is not whether I witnessed it, but how these women feel," Jarrett said. She also said she didn't believe these accusations should disqualify Biden from running for president.

"What's great about our country is that anyone who wants to run for president can," she said, saying she believed there's a need to "let the American people decide" how they feel about candidates.

In an interview with NPR earlier Tuesday, Jarrett said she had "an enormous amount of respect" for Biden from her time working with him in the Obama administration.

"I saw him be extraordinarily demonstrative to both men and women alike — and never did I take it as a sexual advance in any way," she told NPR.

In his statement, Biden also said he "may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised by 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."

Biden's supporters, including several women, have been quick to defend the former vice president.