NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A s someone who spent her career working for Democratic politicians and advocating liberal causes, Tara Reade was shocked by the treatment she’s received from her co-partisans since publicly accusing Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked as a staff assistant in his office in 1993.
Reade, 56, claims that in the spring or summer of 1993, a senior staffer told her to meet Biden in a Capitol corridor to deliver a duffel bag. While there, she says, Biden forced her against the wall and penetrated her with his fingers. She first made the allegation during a podcast with political reporter Katie Halper last month and has since described the alleged ordeal in interviews with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Business Insider.
Reade told National Review in a Tuesday phone interview that, since coming forward, she’s been subjected to “shocking” treatment from those she had expected to come to her aid: the very people who championed a woman’s “right” to be believed during the Kavanaugh confirmation episode two years prior, which Reade confirmed she followed at the time.
Biden’s guilt has by no means been established. But the candidate himself has yet to be asked about the allegation at all — despite sitting for interviews with a host of prominent reporters over the past month. His campaign spokeswoman has re-upped a single categorical denial when asked for comment following each new development.
Two women, one a former neighbor and the other a former coworker, recently told Business Insider that Reade described the incident in separate conversations two years after it allegedly occurred. Reade’s brother and one friend have also said she told them about the assault soon after it happened. But other former Biden staffers, including several that Reade says she had told about the incident, have denied her account.
Reade initially claimed in 2019 that Biden had touched her back and neck in a way that made her feel uncomfortable, but she didn’t say anything about sexual assault. She now attributes that apparent inconsistency to fear about the repercussions of making such an extreme claim about a presidential nominee.
“I was too frightened to come forward at first,” Reade said, adding that she nearly overcame her initial trepidation in the fall, but stopped short of publicizing the allegation after receiving a death threat.
Reade emphasized that when she came forward with her allegation, she didn’t expect the reaction that Democrats, journalists, and Me Too activists displayed during the Kavanaugh confirmation — just the minimal level of respect accorded to women alleging sexual assault in more “normal” circumstances. (Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford was unable to present a single contemporaneous witness to support her account.) “I was just hoping to get a fair and equal treatment,” Reade says, “but because it’s Joe Biden I’ve been silenced or smeared.”
Immediately after her appearance on Halper’s podcast, Reade claims, the Biden campaign dug through her private Instagram account and scoured her years-old online writing, in which she praises Russia and Vladimir Putin, and sent the results to the New York Times in order to cast doubt on her allegation. She also alleges that the campaign used bots to spread the narrative that she was a Russian agent. National Review was unable to confirm either accusation. Much of the ensuing coverage by left-leaning and mainstream publications — the same outlets that credulously accepted Ford’s allegation as fact — has included descriptions of Reade’s past Putin flattery and emphasized her support for Bernie Sanders’s primary candidacy, raising the possibility that Reade had ulterior motives in escalating her allegations against Biden to include sexual assault.
While the Biden campaign’s hostile response to the allegation constituted an understandable damage-control effort from a man on the cusp of the presidency, Reade thought she might at least get a hearing from prominent female Democrats who have championed sexual-assault survivors in the past. Before she went public with the allegation, in an effort to secure a platform to tell her story, Reade sent letters to senators Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) in the fall of last year, laying out the allegation and asking for help in publicizing Biden’s conduct. Warren, who argued on the floor of the Senate that Blasey Ford’s allegation was sufficient to disqualify Brett Kavanaugh, responded with a form letter informing Reade that she couldn’t help because Reade was not a constituent of hers and suggesting that she reach out to her own representatives. Harris, who similarly insisted on the veracity of Blasey Ford’s claim despite the lack of evidence, didn’t respond to Reade’s letter at all.
“Why would you not call me or reach out to me directly? What do you really believe regarding harassment because you say we should stick up for vulnerable people. I was vulnerable, I was just a staff assistant,” Reade said when asked what message she would like to convey to Harris and Warren. “Are they going to allow me to continue being smeared or are they going to stand up for me?”
Since going public on Halper’s podcast, Reade has reached out to the offices of senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.). She said she was particularly disappointed with Ocasio-Cortez, given the freshman congresswoman’s past comments about gender disparity in the workplace and the importance of amplifying the voices of sexual-assault survivors.
“I watched AOC give a speech about protecting people being taken advantage of in the workplace,” Reade said. “Where does she stand now? She endorsed Joe Biden. Why are you endorsing my rapist?”
Ocasio-Cortez, Warren, and Harris all failed to respond to a request for comment by press time. Their fellow Democrats have been similarly mute — save for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who once urged an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh’s conduct. She said she “stands by” Biden when asked Tuesday about Reade’s claim. “He’s devoted his life to supporting women, and he has vehemently denied this allegation,” she told reporters on a conference call.
Reade — who, in addition to working for Biden, worked for Representative Leon Panetta and California state senator Jack O’Connell, both Democrats — says she has left the Democratic Party for good and will never vote for another Democrat at the national level. “I think the DNC is a sham and their silence around what happened to me as a Democratic staffer is unconscionable,” she said. “I was on the job when I got raped. They are complicit in rape.”