Responding to mounting calls for him to address allegations that he sexually assaulted Tara Reade, who worked for him in the 1990s, Joe Biden released a statement Friday morning fully denying that the incident ever took place, then appeared on Morning Joe to repeat that it “never, never happened.”
In the 21-paragraph statement, Biden said, “Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.”
Speaking with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe, a few minutes after releasing the statement, Biden said, “No. It is not true … It never, never happened … I don’t remember any complaint ever having been made.”
Biden said that he does not remember Reade, and that his campaign has not been in touch with her. He said that while he encouraged women to come forward with their experiences of harassment and abuse, people should “look at the facts” after they do, contrasting Reade’s accusations with those of Christine Blasey Ford.
Reade, who briefly worked in Biden’s office, has alleged that the then-senator forcibly penetrated her with his fingers in a Senate building in 1993. Once mostly confined to certain corners of the internet, the allegations have gained steam in recent days, particularly after reports that Reade told the story to a neighbor in the years after the incident allegedly occurred.
Reade has said she filed a complaint with Biden’s office in 1993 (though she said it did not include details of the allegation). Biden advisers have said they do not recall any such complaint. Biden has been urged to open up his Senate papers, which might reveal the relevant files; in the statement, Biden said that any such records would not have been recorded in those papers, but might be housed in the National Archives.
“I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
“I’m confident there’s nothing” in the archives, Biden said on Morning Joe. He also said there is no chance that Reade signed a nondisclosure agreement.
But Biden was pressed repeatedly by Brzezinski on why he would not also open up his University of Delaware papers, to which he awkwardly responded that the files would not contain relevant information, and that they include other confidential information unsuitable for the public.
Biden’s unwillingness to authorize a search of those records is likely to become a sticking point for those who want more transparency from him in the coming days.
On top of that, reporting indicates that the National Archives don’t hold the relevant papers after all:
Biden’s performance on Friday was probably enough to satisfy many Democrats. But if he thinks the Tara Reade allegations have been fully put to rest, he is likely mistaken.