Tara Reade, Joe Biden’s former Senate staffer who has accused the former vice president of sexually assaulting her in 1993, gave her first on-air interview on Thursday and called on him to drop out of the 2020 presidential race.
“You and I were there, Joe Biden,” Reade said in a clip released by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who conducted the interview. “Please, step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.”
Reade said she wishes Biden would step down as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, although she doesn’t believe that will actually happen. She said she’s received death threats because people believe she’s a Russian agent.
“There is a measure of hypocrisy with the campaign saying it’s been safe,” Reade said, referring to the Biden campaign’s comment that all women should be able to tell their stories without fear of retaliation. “It’s not been safe. All of my social media has been hacked. All my personal information has been dragged through [the mud].”
Reade said she would “absolutely” go under oath and subject herself to cross-examination. When Kelly asked if Reade would be open to taking a polygraph test, she said she would only if Biden does as well.
“What kind of precedent does that set for survivors of violence? Does that mean we’re presumed guilty, and we all have to take polygraphs?” Reade said. “I will take once if Joe Biden takes one.”
In March, Reade accused Biden of kissing her and penetrating her with his fingers without her consent when she worked for him in the Senate.
Biden denied the allegation in an interview on “Morning Joe” last week, telling anchor Mika Brzenzski: “It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.” The Biden campaign had also previously denied the accusation.
The former vice president also released a written statement in which he requested that the National Archives release any records from the Office of Fair Employment Practices that relate to Reade’s claim. The Senate responded to Biden’s request earlier this week, saying they do not have the legal authority to release records related to a potential Reade allegation.
Reade was one of at least eight women last year to publicly accuse Biden of inappropriate touching, although none of the others have accused him of sexual assault.
Reade said in 2019 that she worked in Biden’s Senate office when she was in her mid-20s and that he would make her uncomfortable by running his fingers up her neck or putting his hand on her shoulder.
At the time, Reade told reporters her story was about abuse of power, “not sexual misconduct,” and did not mention the alleged incident about him kissing and groping her.
Since Reade shared the sexual assault allegation in March, more corroborating information has come to light.
An investigative report from Business Insider spoke to Reade’s former neighbor, who said that Reade confided in her about the alleged assault in 1995 or 1996.
Additionally, a former co-worker from a different job, as well as Reade’s brother, have said they remember Reade telling them about the alleged assault.
A video also surfaced last month of a woman whom Reade identified as her mother calling into a live broadcast of “Larry King Live” on CNN in 1993 and asking King what she should do if her daughter had a problem with a “prominent senator.” (The call does not mention sexual assault or harassment.)
A New York Times investigation published in mid-April could not corroborate Reade’s allegation with Biden staffers at the time and found “no pattern of sexual misconduct.” The Times has since released a statement clarifying that their investigation drew “no conclusion either way” on the validity of Reade’s story.
The allegation against Biden has put many sexual assault survivors in a tough spot since the two current candidates for president have both been accused of sexual violence.
Biden has one accusation of sexual assault against him (Reade’s), while Donald Trump has upwards of 60 accusations of sexual misconduct against him, including multiple allegations of rape. Trump has denied these allegations.
Many assault survivors told HuffPost that a Biden administration would be better for women and other marginalized groups than another four years of Trump, but some are still struggling with whether they will vote for Biden or not at all come November.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.