Mika Brzezinski began an interview with Biden by launching directly into the allegations in a hardhitting interview, saying, “Please excuse the graphic nature of this, but I want to make sure there is no question as to what we are talking about.”
“She says in 1993, Mr. Vice President, that you pinned her against the wall and reached under her clothing and penetrated her with your fingers,” Brzezinksi said. “Would you please go on the record with the American people, did you sexually assault Tara Reade?”
Biden’s answer was clear and direct, “No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened. And it didn’t, it never happened.”
Brzezinki pressed further, “Do you remember her? Do you remember any types of complaints that she might have made?”
“I don’t remember any type of complaint she may have made,” Biden responded. “It was 27 years ago and I don’t remember – nor does anyone else that I’m aware of – and the fact is that I don’t remember. I don’t remember any complaint ever having been made.”
Brzezinksi then asked if Biden or members of his campaign had “reached out” to Reade.
“No, I have not reached out to her,” Biden said. “It was 27 years ago, this never happened, and when she first made the claim we made it clear that it never happened and it’s as simple as that.”
Brzezinski then questioned Biden on a statement that his campaign released saying that there was “only one place” that Reade’s original complaint could be found: The National Archives. The statement asks the Secretary of the Senate to identify any relevant records in the Archive and to release them.
“Are you preparing us for a complaint that might be revealed in some way?” Brzezinski asked. “Are you confident there is nothing?
“I’m confident there’s nothing,” Biden replied. “No one ever brought it to the attention of me 27 years ago, this or any assertion at all. No one that I’m aware of in my campaign, my Senate office at the time, is aware of any such request or any such complaint, and so I’m not worried about it all. If there is a complaint, that’s where it would be. That’s where it would be filed. And, if it’s there, put it out, but I’ve never seen it. No one has that I’m aware of.”
“Since you want to set the record straight,” Brzezinski probed, “why limit this to Tara Reade? Why not release any complaints that have been made against you during your Senate career?
“I’m prepared to do that,” Biden answered. “To the best of my knowledge, there have been no complaints against me in terms of my Senate career and my office and how things have been run. Look, this is an open book. There’s nothing for me to hide. Nothing at all.”
Brzezinksi then backtracked to the Kavanaugh hearings and Biden’s statement at the time that “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”
“Should we not start off with the presumption that the essence of what she said is real?” Brzezinski asked. “She says you sexually assaulted her.”
“Look,” Biden said. “From the very beginning I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward and then vet it. Look into it. That’s true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard and the pressure to vigorously investigate claims that they make. I’ll always uphold that principle, but in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters and, in this case, the truth is that the claims are false.”
“Is it possible these claims are in an NDA [nondisclosure agreement]?” Brzezinksi asked. “Do you have any NDAs that have been signed by women who were employed by you?”
“There is no NDA signed,” Biden answered. “I’ve never asked anyone to sign an NDA. There are no NDAs. Period. In my case, none.”
Brzezinski then asked about Biden’s Senate documents which held at the University of Delaware. The university says the papers are still being curated, a process that is expected to continue until 2021. The papers are due to be released two years after Biden’s retirement. Brzezinksi alleged that access to the documents had been changed and asked if Biden would release the documents in the interests of “complete transparency.”
“They weren’t supposed to be revealed,” Biden answered, refuting the claim that the schedule for release had been altered. “I gave them to the university and the university said it’s going to take them time to go through all the boxes. They said it wouldn’t be before 2020 that that occurred. Or 2021. I can’t remember the year that they said.”
“But look, a record like this can only be one place,” he continued. “It would not be at the University of Delaware. My archives do not contain personal files. My documents contain – and when I say ‘personal’ I mean ‘personnel’ files, they don’t contain any personnel files. They are public records. My speeches, my papers, my position papers, and, if that document exists, it would be stored at the National Archives where documents from the office she claims to have filed a complaint with are stored. That’s where they are stored. The Senate controls those archives. So, I’m asking the Secretary of the Senate today to identify whether any such document exists. If it does, make it public.”
When asked why he thought Reade was making the allegations, Biden anwered, “I’m not going to question her motive, I’m not going to get into that at all. I don’t know why she’s saying this. I don’t know why, after 27 years, all of a sudden this gets raised. I don’t understand it, but I’m not going to go in and question her motive, I’m not going to attack her.”
“She has a right to say whatever she wants to say,” he added, “but I have a right to say, ‘Look at the facts, check it out. Find out whether any of what she has said or asserted is true.'”
“That was not the atmosphere in my office at all,” Biden continued. “No one has ever said anything like this.
The interview did become contentious when Brzezinksi pressed the issue of a search of the University of Delaware files for Tara Reade’s name. Biden maintained that the files did not pertain to the case, but that they did contain other confidential records of meetings with presidents and other heads of state. When Biden pressed on how such a search would be conducted, Brzezinski was at a loss.
Joe Biden’s forceful and direct answers to difficult questions will help his campaign. He makes a credible case that Reade’s claims are false. That will be enough for his campaign to move forward.
The matter will hinge on whether the Senate archives produce the original complaint that Reade allegedly filed in 1993. If she is telling the truth, this document should still be on record. Regardless, the rumors will likely be kept alive by Biden’s political opponents.
Biden helped himself in another way in the interview as well. He appeared rational and lucid throughout the exchange. This is in contrast with allegations by the Trump campaign that Biden is suffering from age-related mental problems. Although there were a few stumbles, the candidate appeared as normal as anyone in a live, high-stakes interview. It may be that Biden is clumsy at reading from a teleprompter but is more smooth and direct when speaking from the heart.
Don’t expect the accusations to go away after this interview, but unless Tara Reade can produce more evidence that her encounter with Biden actually happened, the matter will begin to fade into the background.