Biden Sent Operatives to Rifle Through Senate Files - Now He Refuses to Release Them
Former vice president denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegations
Joe Biden reportedly sent operatives from his presidential campaign to rifle through the secret Senate files that may potentially contain information about former staffer Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation against him.
On Friday morning, the presumptive Democratic nominee finally broke his silence on Reade's rape accusation by denying the claims during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"No, it is not true," Biden told host Mika Brzezinski.
"I'm saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn't. It never happened," the former vice president insisted.
"While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated," he added.
"One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."
"Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways," Biden added in regard to Reade's allegations.
Despite his denials, Biden refused to release the Senate documents, which are not public, claiming they don't contain "personnel files."
"The material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files ... but it does have a lot of confidential conversations," with other officials, like the president, Biden said.
During an excruciatingly awkward moment, Biden was asked by Brzezinski why he doesn't allow a search of his senatorial papers at the University of Delaware, limited to only those records that contain Tara Reade's name.
Seemingly caught off guard, after a long and uncomfortable silence, Biden replied saying, "Who does that search?"
Joe Biden, asked about requesting a search for Tara Reade's name in the U of Delaware records: "She said she filed a report with the only office that would have a report — in the United States Senate at the time. If the report was ever filed, it was filed there. Period." pic.twitter.com/oV5Xr4Ljpi— Axios (@axios) May 1, 2020
Reade, who worked for Biden's Senate office in the 1990s, claims that the then-Delaware senator assaulted her in 1993 by throwing her up against a wall and forcibly penetrating her with his fingers after she had been sent to take his gym bag to him.
She says she was left "devastated" by the alleged assault and filed an official complaint with Biden's office regarding the incident.
Reade insists that a copy of the incident report must still exist in the archives.
According to a Business Insider report, in the spring of 2019, just after he launched his presidential bid, Biden campaign operatives were sent to look through the files, which are housed at the University of Delaware.
The university made clear, however, that no one has accessed the files since mid-March of this year when the school closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The archived files, which are sealed to the public, span Biden's 36-year Senate career, and have been kept under lock-and-key by the university since 2012.
The university previously said it planned to make the files publicly available two years after Biden's last day in public office, which would have been Jan. 20, 2019.
After Biden decided to run for president, however, the timetable was revised until two years after Biden "retires from public life" or two years after Dec. 31, 2019, whichever comes later.
So far, the university has stood by its refusal to make the files public, despite mounting pressure for them to unseal the documents.
Reade suspects that the archive may contain corroborating evidence for her claims, such as a sexual harassment complaint she allegedly filed with the Senate in 1993.
Reade told Business Insider that Ted Kaufman, Biden's chief of staff at the time, took notes during a meeting she had with him about Biden's alleged harassment.
Kaufman claims the meeting never occurred, however.
"He's now denying that we ever had the meeting, and I watched him take notes," she argued.
"Those notes would be in my personnel file, along with sick days or any kind of extra notes that I turn in."
Reade has previously called on the university to release some or all of the documents, which she says could contain a host of other evidence, as well.
"I believe [the archive] will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents," Reade told Fox News earlier this week.
"Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light — why are they under seal?
"And why won't they be released to the public?"
Biden is worried about his files at the University of Delaware. Says he’s concerned material could be used as “campaign fodder.” I don’t know about Tara Reade, but U of Delaware just became ground zero. What are they hiding?— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) May 1, 2020
It doesn't help that several University of Delaware board members have close personal and financial ties with the former vice president.
Many, including the Washington Post editorial board, are calling on Biden to push for the records' release.
"Insisting on an inventory doesn’t mean one believes Ms. Reade or doesn’t believe her," The Post's editorial read.
"It signals only a desire for the public to know all that’s able to be known, which ought to be in everyone’s interest."
Biden on Friday claimed that any relevant records, however, would not be held at the university, but would be in the custody of the Archives.
Conveniently, Biden called for the secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archives to "identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document."
"If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there," he said.
Biden also said the Archives are the relevant entity, and not the University of Delaware, which has many of his Senate papers but does not have "personnel files."
Tara Reade says she is now ready to "testify under oath" regarding her rape allegations against the Democratic 2020 presidential candidate.