Biden Allegations a 'Huge Deal That's Not Going Away'

Candidate is under pressure to address Tara Reade's accusation of sexual assault
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2020 8:40 AM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2020 3:29 PM CDT
Biden Under Pressure to Address Reade Allegations
Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Joe Biden has yet to personally address a former aide's allegations that he sexually assaulted her in 1993, and women's rights groups are running out of patience. Several women's groups prepared a letter earlier this month urging the candidate to address Tara Reade's allegations, but they put it on hold while they pressured Biden's advisers to get him to make a statement, the New York Times reports. Shaunna Thomas of the UltraViolet advocacy group says it is hard for sexual assault survivors to see an accuser "being tossed aside and actively being weaponized by cynical political actors." She adds: "It would be an incredible moment of leadership for Joe Biden to show up." The groups wanted Biden to make a statement before the end of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. More:

  • Nancy Pelosi said Thursday morning on two news shows that she is "satisfied" with how Biden has responded to the controversy. (Biden's campaign has denied the allegations.) Later, she told reporters: "I want to remove all doubt in anyone’s mind: I have a great comfort level with the situation as I see it, with all the respect in the world for any woman who comes forward, with all the highest regard for Joe Biden," per the Washington Post. GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Pelosi a "hypocrite," reports the Hill.
  • Campaign circulates talking points. BuzzFeed reports that Biden aides provided top Democratic supporters with a list of talking points on the issue, which said Biden "believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed." The talking points also asserted, incorrectly, that a thorough review from the Times concluded that "this incident did not happen." The Times says its story "made no conclusion either way."

  • The allegations. Some of Reade's former co-workers have cast doubt on her allegations, but two more people came forward this week to corroborate them. A former neighbor said that Reade told her at the time that Biden "kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn't feel there was anything she could do."
  • Biden "needs to respond directly." Yvette Simpson, chief of the Democracy for America advocacy group, says Biden needs to respond directly to the allegations. Beating Trump in November is "essential," but "trying to manage the response through women surrogates and emailed talking points doesn’t cut it in 2020— especially if Democrats want to continue to be the party that values, supports, elevates, hears and believes women," she tells the Times.
  • Steps he could take. Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus says new information makes it "imperative" that Biden speak out. He needs to "answer the legitimate questions about the allegations," she writes. "More important, he needs to authorize and encourage the University of Delaware, the repository of his Senate papers, to do what is possible, even in the midst of the pandemic, to scour the available records for information about Reade’s short tenure."
  • Police say it is an "inactive case." Police in Washington, DC, say the sexual assault complaint Reade filed on April 9 is now an "inactive case," Fox reports. Reade says she expected the development, because the case is outside the statute of limitations. "However, by making that police report, it allows a mechanism for me to safety plan and work with a victim advocate," she says.
  • Veepstakes are getting complicated. Biden has said he wants to choose a woman as his running mate, but Politico reports that some of Biden's potential picks could find it difficult to reconcile their approach to the Reade accusations with the "believe all women" stance they took during the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.
  • "This is a huge deal that's not going away." Trump has faced numerous sexual assault allegations of his own, and pollster Tresa Undem tells the Times that she has not seen any shift away from Biden yet. "If the election was held today, I don’t think he’d lose any support,” she says. "But this is a huge deal that’s not going away. The story is going to be on the hypocrisy, and that is the No. 1 thing voters loathe."
(More Joe Biden 2020 stories.)

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