It’s impossible to be absolutely certain about what did or didn’t happen in 1993 between a 20-something female staffer named Tara Reade and her boss, U.S. Senator Joseph Biden. However, as journalists dig deeper into Biden’s accuser’s history and character, the more dubious the woman’s claims seem to become.
I have no dog in this hunt. Like Ms. Reade, I supported Elizabeth Warren in the Dem primaries. Unlike her, I chose not to switch my support to Bernie Sanders when Warren dropped out.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden was always near the bottom of my list of preferred candidates, barely edging out Michael Bloomberg. So, other than not wanting to give scurrilous ReTrumplicans any additional ammunition against the presumptive Democratic nominee, I have no ulterior motives to disbelieve Reade’s claims. I consider myself a feminist and I strongly believe that anyone who courageously steps forward to allege sexual assault deserves to be heard through unbiased ears.
But, bias can go in both directions. And because, in any “She-said/He-said” situation, there is no clear and conclusive pathway to the truth, weighing culpability should begin with one question:
Which of the two characters in the story has more credibility?
For better or for worse, Joe Biden has been operating in the glare of public scrutiny for nearly a half century. We know the man, warts and all. Meanwhile, questions remain…
Who is Tara Reade — an innocent victim of sexual assault?
A confused, mentally disturbed individual? Or, a desperate, opportunistic grifter?
Let’s take an objective look at the facts about Biden’s accuser as they are being reported today:
- In 1993, immediately after the alleged incident, Reade confided in her mother, her brother, and a friend.
- These confidences excluded the terms “sexual harassment” or “sexual assault.” Instead, Reade reported that Biden had done some “inappropriate” things that made her “uncomfortable.”
- On the now-infamous podcast interview with Katie Halper, Reade explained those omissions by claiming that “sexual harassment” was not in common vernacular in 1993.
- In fact, Sexual Harassment was codified into law in the 1970s and, by 1993, had become everyday parlance — especially among young women intelligent enough to score senate staff positions.
- August, 1993. A woman Reade identifies as her late mother called in to Live With Larry King, stating, "My daughter has just left after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him."
- The caller did not mention the daughter’s or the senator’s names, never explained what she meant by “her problems,” and said nothing about urging her daughter to go to the police.
- Reade told Halper that her mother strongly urged her to go to the police and expressed regret for declining to follow her mother’s advice.
- Reade claims to have followed proper protocol by filing a grievance with the congressional personnel office.
- Biden has requested that Reade’s grievance report be released. So far, no such report has been located, and the alleged victim neglected to save a copy for herself.
- No other staffer employed by Biden at that time, including the senator’s longtime executive assistant Marianne Baker, recalls Reade making such a complaint — either formally or verbally.
- August, 1993. Reade was let go after eight months in Biden’s office.
- Reade, who has offered several conflicting reasons for her firing, now asserts that it was in retaliation for her complaint.
- According to colleague Ben Savage, Reade’s termination was due to poor job performance.
- Savage also recalls Reade complaining at the time that she’d been “unfairly pushed out over a medical issue.”
- PBS NewsHour interviewed 74 former Biden staffers, mostly female. The senator received consistently high marks for treating his staff with respect.
- Interviewees also told PBS that Biden conscientiously refrained from asking female aides to perform menial, subservient tasks such as fetching coffee and that he always kept official senate staff separate from campaign duties.
- Reade has claimed that Biden forced her to serve drinks at a political fundraiser because he “liked her legs.” Former staffers interviewed by PBS found this to be out of character and contrary to policy.
- Biden was never included on a well-circulated list of “creepy” senators young women on the Hill were warned to avoid.
- In perusing the heavily traveled corridor where Reade alleges the assault took place, PBS investigators could not locate any “alcove” as Reade has described.
- Reade has also leveled abuse allegations against her father and her ex-husband.
- For more than a decade, under the assumed name, Alexandra McCabe, Reade served in California as an expert witness on domestic violence.
- The resumé Reade used to attain expert certification cited a degree from Antioch College and a visiting professorship. Antioch has no record of such a degree or of her ever serving on the faculty.
- The same resumé listed Reade’s work with Senator Biden on the Violence Against Women Act, falsely elevating her job title to “executive assistant.”
- During a 2018 attempted-murder trial, Reade perjured herself under oath, claiming that she holds a law degree from Seattle University.
- Due to resumé falsifications and possible perjury, cases in which Reade, aka McCabe, testified are now under review.
- Douglas Wigdor, an attorney well reputed for representing women in high-profile sexual-assault cases, has dropped her as a client.
- Over the past 12 years, she has gone by the names Tara Reade, Tara McCabe and Alexandra McCabe.
- A number of close acquaintances from this period recall a familiar pattern: Reade would ingratiate herself, then claim to be down on her luck and in need of help. Ultimately, she took advantage of people’s goodwill to extract money, skip rent payments and/or skate on bills.
- None of these acquaintances recall Reade expressing ill will toward Biden. Instead, they say, she always spoke of her time working with the senator in glowing terms.
- In 2018, Reade authored blog pieces in praise of Vladimir Putin. One such post referred to the Russian president’s “alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity.”
- April, 2019. Reade joined a group of eight women, stepping forward to accuse Biden of “inappropriate touching,” but again stopped short of making any allegation of sexual assault.
- Biden responded with a contrite public apology.
- January, 2020. Reade approached Time’s Up for legal assistance. The organization declined to represent her, explaining that the alleged perpetrator was a political candidate, which could possibly jeopardize the organization’s non-profit status.
- Late March, 2020. In the podcast interview with Katie Halper, an emotional Reade described the alleged 1993 sexual assault in explicit detail.
- Halper’s sensationalistic click-bate headline promoting the podcast suggested that Reade had repeatedly attempted to levy allegations of sexual assault against Biden, but had been silenced. In fact, Ms. Reade had 27 years to tell the story she had only just made public.
- When contacted for corroboration, both her brother and her friend changed previous statements to match Reade’s podcast version.
- April 9, 2020. The day after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race and the day Joe Biden became the last man standing in the Democratic presidential field, Reade went to the Washington, DC police department to file charges of sexual assault against Biden.
To his credit, Biden has refrained from publicly impugning Ms. Reade’s character or questioning her motive. Unlike other prominent alleged perpetrators of sexual assault — Judges Kavanaugh and Thomas come to mind — Biden has not flipped the script in an effort to cast himself as victim in this scenario. Instead, he continues to welcome a full and thorough investigation into Reade’s claims.
A recent poll conducted by Monmouth University indicates that 86% of Americans are aware of this ongoing controversy and that 37% think Reade’s allegation is “probably true.”
Whether or not Tara Reade’s accusations carry any merit should not be in any way dependent upon where one stands on the Me-Too movement and should have even less to do with which candidate a person wishes would have prevailed in the Democratic primaries. Instead, in light of the facts reflected here, we should be asking ourselves…
Is Tara Reade an innocent victim of sexual assault, a confused, mentally disturbed individual, or a desperate, opportunistic grifter?
Apologies for the incorrect photo. It comes up in a Google search for Tara Reade images.
The intent of this piece is to summarize key facts that contribute to a complete, up-to-date picture of the woman making allegations against Biden. I am not claiming to be offering breaking news. I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of pertinent facts, culled from one or more credible sources. Links to sources are embedded.
This issue may be settled here in Kosland… but it is still ablaze out there in the real world. Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are aware of Reade’s accusations and nearly 4 in 10 find her story credible. I am deeply concerned that voters (especially Bernie diehards) will use this as a reason not to vote for Biden. I hope that, by culling all the reports into one comprehensive list of bullet points, Reade’s motives, character, and, therefore, her story will be placed in further doubt.
Rand Bishop (Gimpy Ol’ Norman) is the author of the memoir, TREK: My Peace Pilgrimage in Search of a Kinder America.