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Tara Reade said former US vice-president Joe Biden sexually assaulted her while she worked in his Senate office in 1993. Biden has denied the allegations. Photo: AP

Joe Biden sexual assault accuser Tara Reade calls on him to quit US presidential race

  • ‘You should not be running on character for the president of the United States,’ the former staffer said in an interview with Megyn Kelly
  • Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has denied the allegations, saying more and more inconsistencies keep emerging
Former US Senate aide Tara Reade said on Thursday that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should acknowledge her claim that he sexually assaulted her is true and quit the 2020 presidential race.

“You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States,” Reade said during her first on-camera interview since Biden appeared on MSNBC last week and denied her accusation for the first time on television.

Reade’s interview was conducted by former network anchor Megyn Kelly. The video was posted on Kelly’s Twitter account.

Asked if Biden should end his presidential bid, Reade said: “I wish he would but he won’t. I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.” She added that it was “a little late” for Biden to apologise to her.

Biden has denied Reade’s claim that when she worked for his Senate office in 1993, he pushed her against a wall in a Capitol Hill office building, put his hand up her skirt and sexually assaulted her with his fingers.

In recounting the alleged assault, Reade said Biden, using an expletive, told her he wanted to have sex with her.

Biden responded to Reade’s comments on Thursday during an interview with a television station in Florida. “Nothing ever happened with Tara Reade. Believing women means taking a woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward and then vetting it, looking into it,” he told Spectrum Bay News 9 in Tampa. “But in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is the claims are flat out false.”

When pressed on whether her allegations were politically motivated, Reade said “everything’s political” but added “this is deeper than that”.

Presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden is seen at a campaign event in March. Photo: EPA-EFE

Reade said that she tried reaching out to Kamala Harris of California, her senator, about the allegations but that she never heard back from her office.

An aide to Harris said the Senate office’s and the campaign’s email in boxes have been checked and no record of anything from Reade was found. The aide said Harris’s office would take any complaints seriously but they have no record of communication with Reade.

Reade said she would be willing to speak under oath and to be cross-examined, just as Christine Blasey Ford did when she described her allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the Senate in 2018.

Former aide accuses Joe Biden of sexual assault, campaign denies it

Reade also said she would follow Ford’s lead in taking a polygraph test, though she suggested the onus was on Biden to do so.

“I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph,” Reade said. “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? So I will take one if Joe Biden takes one but I am not a criminal.”

Also on Thursday, the San Luis Obispo Tribune in California reported that a court document from 1996 shows Reade told her ex-husband that she was sexually harassed when working in Biden’s office.

The document, written by her ex-husband, does not say Biden committed the harassment nor does it mention sexual assault.

Joe Biden speaks during the launch of his presidential election campaign in Philadelphia. Photo: AFP

Doug Wigdor, Reade’s lawyer, said there was “a double standard” in the way the Democrats have reacted to her allegations. “Anyone who believes in victims’ rights should not be considering anything except whether they believe the victim.”

Wigdor announced he had been hired by Reade on Thursday. He is a civil employment lawyer and former prosecutor who has represented a number of #MeToo clients, including Harvey Weinstein accusers and the hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a New York hotel room in 2011. Criminal charges in that case were later dropped.

Biden denies sexual assault allegation, insisting ‘it never happened’

Wigdor, who said he is a Republican who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, insisted that the Democrats should investigate Reade’s allegations.

“Any CEO or manager who had allegations like this pop up, the company would investigate. Companies investigate even consensual affairs,” Wigdor said. “If I were the DNC and my nominee for president of the United States faced an accusation of this kind, I would be calling for an investigation.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to MSNBC to deny the allegations. Photo: AP
Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager for Biden, in a statement on Thursday reiterated that Biden denies the allegations and said each day “more and more inconsistencies keep emerging”.

Women “must receive the benefit of the doubt” and “must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm”, Bedingfield said. “At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth. And the truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity.”

China shaping up to be central theme for both Trump and Biden campaigns

Reade’s allegations have shaken Democrats who are wrestling with their support of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault against women in the workplace and their support of Biden.

At the same time, Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women. He has denied the allegations and the Republican Party leadership has not called for inquiries.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Accuser of biden says he should quit Race