Early Wednesday morning, podcaster Katie Halper revealed that she interviewed Tara Reade who accuses Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. Halper tweeted a preview of the clip writing “This is a story that @ReadeAlexandra has been trying to tell since it happened in 1993. It’s a story about sexual assault, retaliation and silencing.” Now that the full interview is up on Soundcloud, Reade details how the staff and culture in then-Senator Biden’s office kept her silent in 1993.
In graphic details, Reade explained how the alleged sexual assault from Biden occurred “down towards the capital” in a “side area” where Biden greeted her to retrieve a gym bag. “We were alone and it was the strangest thing,” she said in the Soundcloud interview. “There was no like exchange really. He just had me up against the wall.” Reade then emotionally explained how Biden’s “hands were on me and underneath my clothes” and “he went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers.”
Reade listed a couple of reasons why it took her years to speak publicly about the alleged assault. One of the main reasons was because of how she says she was treated on Capitol Hill as a staff assistant to Biden’s office.
Biden was a big-time U.S. Senator representing Delaware at the time and had been in office since 1973. Reade says when she would mention incidents of uncomfortable behavior, she had to go through a particular protocol that she says wasn’t helpful.
Reade describe the chain of command, listing Ted Coffman as Biden’s Chief of Staff at the time followed by Dennis Toner below him. Last on the totem pole was Reade’s supervisor whose name was bleeped from the interview.
Reade said she wouldn’t interact with Biden that much before the alleged assault but when she did, she said, “He would just do that thing that guys do when they look you up and down and then smile. It just was obnoxious. And back then, I just accepted it for what it was.”
Before Reade accused Biden of sexual assault, she initially accused him of inappropriate behavior back in April 2019. She told The Union that when she was a staff assistant to Biden back in 1993, he would “put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck.” She also described an incident when Biden allegedly wanted her to serve drinks because he liked her legs. Reade says she didn’t hear this directly from Biden, but she discovered it during a talk with Biden’s staff. Reade refused to serve the drinks, which she believes was a move that affected her career.
Reade told Halper during the Soundcloud interview that when she would bring up her instances of discomfort, her unnamed supervisor would say things like “The Senator likes you. Most women would really like that attention. I don’t understand your attitude, like what is the problem.”
“It definitely wasn’t a progressive office,” Reade added. “I don’t know what it would be like now.”
Reade said there was no “framework back then” for her to talk about her alleged assault and harassment. “My mom educated me after it happened that it was sexual assault,” she said. “I felt like it was my fault like that I did [inaudible] to bring it on.”
Reade continued, “After the whole serving the drinks thing happened, things got really tense for me. My supervisor kept finding fault with my work. Like all of a sudden, I was doing things wrong. And then she took me aside and sent in an assistant and said ‘We want you to wear different clothes. You need to button up more. You need to wear longer skirts.’ In other words, she said ‘Don’t look so sexy.'”
“She goes, ‘Try not to be so noticed, you’re too noticeable,'” Reade added, describing her supervisor at the time.
Reade said she initially went to Times Up in January 2020 to tell her whole story since the organization was set up to support sexual assault survivors publicly and legally in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
However, the group ultimately decided not to assist her because the person she was accusing, Biden, was a candidate for federal office. Providing legal and P.R. support for Reade could reportedly threaten the non-profit status of Time’s Up, which is housed within the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).
“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the National Women’s Law Center is restricted in how it can spend its funds, including restrictions that pertain to candidates running for election,” explained NWLC spokesperson, Maria Patrick, to The Intercept. “Our decision on whether or not to provide certain types of support to an individual should not be interpreted as our validation or doubt of the truthfulness of the person’s statements. Regardless, our support of workers who come forward regarding workplace sexual harassment remains unwavering.”
Despite this stance, Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, told The Intercept that Time’s Up’s analysis is too conservative. She argued that the group wouldn’t be putting its tax-exempt status at risk by taking a case involving a candidate for federal office as long as it carried out its standard criteria for handling cases.
“As a legal matter, if the group is clear regarding the criteria used as to whom it is taking to court, show that these are long-established neutral criteria, and they are being applied to individuals completely independent of their running for office, it would not be a violation of tax law,” Aprill said. “Groups are allowed to continue to do what they have always done.”
Reade’s sexual assault accusations caused the hashtag #IBelieveTara to trend on Twitter on Wednesday. By Friday morning, #TimesUpBiden was also trending on the platform, with people calling on the former vice president to Barack Obama to drop out the 2020 presidential race.
Biden has yet to publicly address Reade’s sexual assault accusations. However, when reports came out about his alleged inappropriate behavior he said in a statement, “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort.” He continued, “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”