Douglas Wigdor, whose law firm represented several victims of Harvey Weinstein, told members of the press on Thursday that he now represents Tara Reade. Reade, who has accused former Vice-President Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, taped an interview with Megyn Kelly that will air on the former Fox anchor’s YouTube channel and Instagram account. Rich McHugh, who reported for Business Insider that Reade disclosed the incident to a friend in the mid-’90s, produced the segment. Biden denied Reade’s accusations on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last Friday, and prominent Biden supporters, like VP hopeful Stacey Abrams, have said they believe Biden over Reade.
In the email, Wigdor sounded as though he anticipated a fierce and very public fight. For a message of this nature, it notably singled out his career highlights and qualifications. “It is inevitable that partisan politics will lead people to attack our firm and Mr. Wigdor specifically, particularly given his support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign,” it stated. “However, any objective view of Mr. Wigdor’s career and the history of the Firm (which is comprised of partners, lawyers and staff from all political parties) belie such a false narrative and make clear that our representation is simply a continuation of our objective support of all legitimate victims.”
Reade’s case is difficult, as Vox’s Laura McGann underscored on Thursday. Though her basic claim is credible, and reporting has provided some corroborative evidence of her claims, other aspects of her account remain difficult to prove. That isn’t unusual for stories of sexual assault, and it doesn’t mean Reade is a liar. But it does put journalists “in an agonizing place,” as McGann writes.
Wigdor’s representation may alleviate liberal fears that Reade could be another Julie Swetnick, a Michael Avenatti client who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault only for her allegations to suffer under media scrutiny. Avenatti was convicted in February of trying to extort Nike. Before his jail sentence, his hunger for fame and willingness to advance clients like Swetnick, whose shaky story still fuels right-wing talking points, significantly undermined his credibility. It’s difficult to say the same of Wigdor.
Despite his previous support for Trump, Wigdor has a long career representing victims of sexual harassment and assault in high-profile cases. He prominently defended the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings. He represented Nafissatou Diallo, a former Sofitel hotel maid, in her case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, and later represented several victims of Harvey Weinstein.
He is also known for going after Fox News. His firm represented former Fox employee Juliet Huddy in a sexual-harassment case against Bill O’Reilly, and Lidia Curanaj, who sued Fox, alleging that she’d been passed over for a job because she rejected sexual advances from Roger Ailes. Wigdor also filed a defamation and racial discrimination suit against Fox on behalf of Rod Wheeler; Wheeler claimed the network “fabricated” quotes from him in order to falsely imply that a conspiracy might be involved in DNC staffer Seth Rich’s death, as the New York Times reported at the time. The suit was later dismissed. (Wigdor’s penchant for suing Fox might help explain why Reade will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly, who helped oust Ailes over his long history of sexual harassment. Wigdor also appeared on Kelly’s short-lived NBC show in 2017.)
“When we write our complaints, there’s an effort on our part to make it as colorful as possible,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek in 2017. “We’re writing in a way that puts the company on its heels. Because we know that these companies have multimillion [dollar] marketing resources. Now we’re suing this company and trying to change the public perception.” Joe Biden will now find himself on the receiving end of that strategy.