Tara Reade was an aide to Vice President Joe Biden in the early ’90s, and in March, she came forward with sexual assault allegations against the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.
Biden denied her claims, but he remains under fire for these recent revelations—and they spark major questions for voters determined to get President Donald Trump out of office in November.
Here’s everything you need to know about the allegations.
April 3, 2019
Tara Reade, who worked as a staff assistant for Biden in the U.S. Senate from December 1992 to August 1993, comes forward to accuse the vice president of touching her on her neck and shoulders. At the time, seven other women made similar accusations of “inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing” against Biden. “He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade alleges. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”
Reade also recounts one alleged instance that she believes was more about “power and control” than sex to California's The Union newspaper. Reade claims that in early 1993, Biden asked her to serve drinks at an event because he liked her legs. She refused.
Later, after speaking with a friend and realizing Biden’s alleged behavior was inappropriate, Reade says she made a complaint to U.S. Senate personnel. But shortly after she complained, she believed “word got back to Biden’s office.” She remembers being moved to an office with no windows in June 1993. She ultimately left the job in August 1993. (She also says that during her final months there she lost out on major work opportunities.)
Reade approaches Time’s Up and the National Women’s Law Center, according to The Intercept, but they decline to help her, citing that because she was accusing a presidential candidate, the allegations would jeopardize Time’s Up's status as a nonprofit.
March 25, 2020
In an interview with podcast host Katie Halper, Reade alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in the halls of Congress during her months as an aide. Reade says she was told to bring Biden his gym bag one day, and when she did, he proceeded to touch her without her permission. She explains:
“I handed it to him. It was gone and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And then he went down my skirt, but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers. And he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me.”
Reade adds, “I remember him saying first before, like as he was doing it, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’” When Reade recoiled, she recalled Biden saying, “Come on, man. I heard you liked me.” And before he walked away, she claimed he pointed at her and said, “You’re nothing to me. You’re nothing, nothing.” Then he grabbed her shoulders and insisted, “You’re okay. You’re fine.”
Reade continued to work for Biden through the summer of 1993, but when she would see him, she claimed he ignored her or “looked angry.” She went on to say, “You know, someone walks by and instead of greeting you and smiling like they normally do, they won’t look at you. He was pissed.” During their final interaction, she claims Biden approached her from behind, put his hand on her shoulder, and rubbed his finger up and down her neck.
Reade says she tried to report her initial claims of harassment verbally and internally, but “they didn’t do anything right.” And although she said her mom urged her to go to the police after the alleged assault, Reade didn’t. Instead, she remembers attempting to tell the scheduler, the woman who told Reade to bring Biden the gym bag. But when she tried, she claimed the woman shut her down before she could explain what happened.
She also says she went “outside the sphere of the office for help” and completed a complaint form on a clipboard in a congressional office building, but she doesn’t know what happened to it. The form is thought to have been returned to Biden’s office and is “archival material,” but it’s unclear what actually happened to it.
According to Reade, she originally didn’t want to go public with the assault allegations because of the backlash she experienced in 2019 when she accused Biden of harassment. “I was just totally decimated online on social media and my reputation was torn apart,” she told Halper.
But when Biden began his presidential campaign, Reade decided to come forward with the assault allegations. “I see him talking about running on a platform of ‘character,’ and I just want to scream,” she told Halper.
April 9, 2020
Reade files a criminal complaint about the alleged incident with the Washington, D.C. police department. Reade doesn’t mention Biden by name in the report, but she confirms it’s about him to the New York Times. Although the statute of limitations for the claims has expired, Reade said she filed the complaint “for safety reasons only.”
Thank you to the brave journalists @ryangrim @kthalps @RichMcHugh and
And luminaries that have stood by me @SusanSarandon @johncusack @rosemcgowan I filed a police report for safety reasons only. All crim stats beyond limitations. Gratitude for all who have stood by me. https://t.co/VpdUF8jez1
— taratweets ( Alexandra Tara Reade) (@ReadeAlexandra) April 11, 2020
April 12, 2020
In a statement to the New York Times, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield, made a statement about Reade’s allegations: “Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard—and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
April 24, 2020
The Intercept reports that back in 1993, Reade’s mother called into Larry King Live anonymously and said her daughter left her job in Washington due to “problems” with a “prominent senator.”
— Rich McHugh (@RichMcHugh) April 24, 2020
May 1, 2020
Biden responds to Reade’s assault allegations on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and denies the claims. He says:
“From the very beginning I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claims seriously when she steps forward. And then vetted, look into it. That’s true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I’ll always uphold that principle, but in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is the claims are false.”
That same day, Biden calls on the National Archives to release any complaints related to Reade’s claims, but the authority to do so actually rests with the Senate. Biden’s campaign then writes to the Senate asking them to “direct a search” for the records, but the Senate declines and says it would be unlawful.
Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by 25 women, seemingly defends Biden during an interview with conservative radio host Don Bongino. “All of a sudden you become a wealthy guy, you’re a famous guy, then you become president. And people that you’ve never seen, that you’ve never heard of, make charges,” Trump said. “I would just say to Joe Biden, ‘Just go out and fight it.’”
May 7, 2020
Reade sits down for an interview with Megyn Kelly and states she would go under oath and submit herself to cross examination. She also says that she wants Biden to drop out of the presidential race. “I want to say: You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.” When asked if she wants an apology, Reade says, “I think it’s a little late.”
— Rich McHugh (@RichMcHugh) May 7, 2020
May 14, 2020
Biden appears on MSNBC’s The Last Word and denies the allegations again. He says, “If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me,” when asked about voters who remain undecided. He adds, “I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”
May 15, 2020
PBS NewsHour publishes a report that critiques the geographical details of Reade’s accusations. When they walked the route of the government building where the assault allegedly took place, they didn’t find a “semiprivate area like an alcove” like Reade’s lawyer suggested.
One of the more explosive details from the PBS report comes from Reade’s former colleague Ben Savage, who sat in the mail room with her. Reportedly, “Reade was fired for her poor performance on the job, which he witnessed—not as retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment.”
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