A woman who accused presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexual misconduct last year is now accusing the former vice president of outright sexual assault.
Tara Reade, who worked as a staffer in Biden’s Senate office from December 1992 to August 1993, told the northern California newspaper The Union in April that Biden inappropriately touched her on more than one occasion.
“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade told the paper. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”
The allegation came as other women shared stories of Biden making them feel uncomfortable by invading their personal space with his hands and body, or by smelling their hair.
At the time, Biden issued a statement about the accusations from the many women, but stopped short of apologizing.
“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it,” the statement said.
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 3, 2019
Reade’s 2019 story lined up, more or less, with stories shared by numerous other women.
But Reade is now telling a very different story — one that portrays Biden as a cold, manipulative man who held her against a wall and sexually assaulted her.
WARNING: The following sound clip contains details of an alleged graphic sexual assault and sexual language and discretion is advised.
Reade recounts the graphic story in an interview excerpt with liberal podcaster Katie Halper, in which she says then-Senator Biden used his fingers to penetrate her vagina when the two were alone in 1993.
Reade said that one of her superiors asked her to run a gym bag to Biden, who was somewhere near the Capitol building away from his office. When she arrived, she says Biden assaulted her.
“We were alone and it was the strangest thing,” she said. “There was no, like, exchange really. He just had me up against the wall.”
Reade described wearing a business skirt, which she says Biden reached up with his hand.
Biden’s “hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” she said.
“He went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers,” she added.
Reade then told Halper that Biden began kissing her and then said, “‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’” she said.
“And then him saying to me when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing, and I kind of just pulled back and he said, ‘Come on, man, I heard you liked me.’”
Reade said the moment came as a shock.
“I looked up to him,” said Reade, who was in her mid-20s when she worked for Biden’s office, according to The Union. Biden, now 77, would have been 50 at the time.
“He was, like, my father’s age. He was, like, this champion of women’s rights in my eyes, and I couldn’t believe it was happening. It seemed surreal.”
She then faltered in the account, saying Biden had said something to her that she did not wish to repeat.
When Halper pressed her later in the interview, however, Reade said Biden “took his finger, he just like pointed at me and said, “You’re nothing to me.’
“He just looked at me, he goes, ‘You’re nothing. Nothing.”
Reade said Biden must have seen the look on her face because his behavior changed.
“I must have reacted because that’s when he took me by the shoulders and said, you know, ‘You’re OK, you’re fine. You’re OK.'”
Biden then walked away, she said.
But those two words — “you’re nothing” — remain lodged in her memory, Reade told Harper.
“To him, I am nothing,” she said.
Reade said she did not tell her story of alleged sexual assault until this year because she faced a campaign of intimidation after accusing Biden of sexual harassment last year.
According to a report about Reade’s accusations by The Intercept, Reade initially supported Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary contest and is now backing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The Intercept reported that Reade went to the women’s advocacy group Time’s Up — which has represented accusers of former Hollywood producer, now-convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein — but the group refused to represent her when she presented the allegation in January because Biden is a candidate running for federal office.
Because of that, the group told her, it could lose its nonprofit status by representing her.
“The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center,” The Intercept reported.
While it is important to note that Reade’s interview is merely an allegation against the former vice president, Democrats reminded the country in 2018 that women accusing powerful men of sexual improprieties should be heard.
During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, claimed Kavanaugh groped her at a party when the two were in high school.
Although Blasey Ford offered only a generally vague accusation, Democrats trumpeted her accusation and as a result, every aspect of Kavanaugh’s life was put on trial going back to his teenage years, and he was humiliated in front of the entire country.
The hazy story from Ford also did not dissuade Democrats from pronouncing the then-Supreme Court nominee guilty in the media.
“I believe Professor Ford. I think she’s credible and I think when the investigation is finished and when she testifies and Judge Kavanaugh testifies, I think a majority of senators will find her credible,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC’s “The View” in September 2018.
Biden — whose accuser can prove she was in contact with him and has not been discredited — also commented on the allegations against Kavanaugh in 2018.
“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, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron,” Biden said, according to The Washington Post.
A representative for Biden added to CNN: “Vice President Biden believes Professor Ford deserves a fair and respectful hearing of her allegations, and that the committee should undertake a thorough and nonpartisan effort to get to the truth, wherever it leads.”
While Reade’s 27-year-old allegation for now is just that — an allegation — Democrats have created a standard in which all accusers must be heard. And they ought to hold Biden to that standard.
While Biden certainly deserves due process and should not be tried in the court of public opinion, Reade would be justified in having the opportunity to describe her account in further detail.
As a matter of consistency, Democrats and the establishment media must demand such a forum.
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