Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is battling a serious allegation of sexual assault, one his accuser says she brought to the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., before they left the 2020 race. According to Tara Reade, while she worked as a staff assistant for Biden in 1993, the senator “began kissing her without her permission, pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers,” as Robby Soave wrote in Reason.
According to journalist Katie Halper, who recently interviewed Reade, the woman’s brother and close friend “both recall Tara telling them about the incident at the time.” Compare that with Christine Blasey Ford’s reputation-destroying allegation against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which has been denied by all alleged witnesses.
The Intercept reported that Reade attempted to bring her story to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund earlier this year, but the group declined to assist with the case, citing its nonprofit status. Per The Intercept, the public relations firm retained by Time’s Up is SKDKnickerboker; the group’s managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top advisor to Biden’s campaign.
Reade sat for an extensive interview with The Hill’s Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball on Thursday morning, where she responded to questions about why she stayed silent for nearly three decades and whether political motivations influenced her decision to speak out in 2020. In the interview, Reade said that she contacted the Warren and Harris campaigns hoping to share her story, but neither seriously followed up. Team Warren, Reade said, directed her to contact her local representative.
The Federalist asked both senators’ offices on Thursday to confirm whether either was made aware of the allegations on the campaign trail, but did not receive a response by press time.
Because Reade’s story is compelling, and drawing so little attention from the corporate media, it’s worth digesting her words in full. To be clear, this is a 30-year-old allegation with no corroborating witnesses, so there’s no way for us to conclusively determine the veracity of Reade’s story. But now that she’s spoken out, the ball is in voters’ court to consider whether she’s telling the truth, and what that means for Biden’s qualifications as a presidential hopeful.
As Soave noted, Biden advocates frequently on behalf of sexual assault victims, and has emphatically defended women who stay silent before ultimately coming forward with allegations. “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real,” Biden said during the Kavanaugh confirmation battle.
The account of Biden’s alleged sexual assault, as relayed by Reade to Halper, is transcribed below. The news cycle is rightfully crowded with pandemic information right now, as it absolutely should be. But the sad reality is that Biden, who has a history of allegations of inappropriate touching, would be battling heightened media pressure to respond to Reade if he weren’t a Democratic frontrunner. That doesn’t make her story any less worth our consideration.
In her interview with Halper, Reade began by remembering the alleged 1993 incident started when a boss called her into her office.
[She] called me in and said, ‘I want you to take this to Joe. He wants it. He wants you to bring it, hurry.’ And I said, ‘Okay,’ and it was a gym bag. She said ‘take the gym bag.’ She called it athletic bag. And she said he was down towards the Capitol and he’ll meet you. So I went down, and I was heading down towards there. And he was at first talking to someone, I could see him at a different distance and then they went away. And then we were in like this side area. And he just said, ‘Hey, come here, Tara.’ And then I handed him the thing and he greeted me, he remembered my name.
And then we were alone, and it was the strangest thing. There was no exchange really. He just had me up against the wall. And I was wearing a skirt and, you know, business skirt, but I wasn’t wearing stockings. It was kind of a hot day that day and I was wearing heels. And I remember my legs had been hurting from the marble, you know of the Capitol, like walking. So I remember that kind of stuff. I remember I was wearing a blouse and he just had me up against the wall. And the wall was cold. It happened all at once. The gym bag, I don’t know where it went. I handed it to him, was gone. And then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes.
He went down my skirt, but then up inside it, and he penetrated me with his fingers. He was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me. He said several things, and I can’t remember everything. I remember a couple of things. I remember him saying first before, like, as he was doing it, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’ And then him saying to me when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing, and I kind of was pulled back and he said, he said, ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’ And that phrase stayed with me because I kept thinking, what I might have said, and I can’t remember exactly if he said ‘I thought ‘or if ‘I heard’ but it’s like he implied like that I had done this like, I don’t know.
And for me, it was like everything shattered in that moment because I knew we alone. It was over, right? He wasn’t trying to do anything more. But I looked up to him. He was like my father’s age. He was this champion of women’s rights in my eyes, and I couldn’t believe what was happening. It seemed surreal. I just felt sick because he, when he pulled back, he looked annoyed. And he said, something else to me that I don’t want to say.* And then he said, I must have looked shocked, and he grabbed me by the shoulders. I don’t know how I looked, but I must have looked something because he grabbed me by the shoulders and he said, ‘You’re okay, you’re fine. You’re okay, you’re fine. ‘ And then he walked away and he went on with his day.
And what I remember next is being in the Russell building, like where the big windows are, in the stairs by myself. My body, I was shaking everywhere because, it was cold all of a sudden, I was, I don’t know, I felt like I was shaking just everywhere, and I was trying to grasp what had just happened and what I should do, or what I should say. But I knew it was bad because he was so angry. Like when he left, I could feel, you know how when you know someone’s angry, they don’t necessarily say anything. Like he smiles when he’s angry. And you can just feel it emanating from him.
*Pressed by Halper, Reade claimed later in the interview that Biden allegedly pointed his finger at her and said, “You’re nothing to me.”