"I’m saying it unequivocally: It never, never happened. And it didn’t. It never happened," Biden said last week of Reade's allegation

By Adam Carlson and Sean Neumann
May 07, 2020 02:49 PM
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In what she said would be a "riveting exchange" with "some tough questions," Megyn Kelly on Thursday announced that Tara Reade, the woman accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual assault, was sitting down with her in Reade's first major on-camera interview.

Reade's harassment and abuse claims have been vigorously denied by Biden and his presidential campaign, which pointed to aides in his office at the time who also disputed Reade's account.

In an interview on Morning Joe on Friday, Biden said Reade's assault allegation was "not true."

"I’m saying it unequivocally: It never, never happened. And it didn’t. It never happened," he said.

Kelly, a former Fox News and NBC News anchor, did not initially specify where or when the interview would air but suggested it would be soon. She also shared a still from the taping.

Since leaving NBC, Kelly, 49, has released interviews on her social media channels. Reade has previously done smaller video interviews with Democracy Now! and The Hill.

Later Thursday, Kelly began releasing clips from the interview — posting two short videos on Twitter.

In one, Kelly asks Reade what she would tell Biden if he were watching the interview.

“I want to say, '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 says.

"You want him to withdraw?" Kelly asks.

"I wish he would, but he won’t," Reade replies. "I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally."

In the other clip, she says she is willing to recount her story under oath.

Reade was a junior staffer in Biden's Senate office in 1992 and 1993 who first alleged in March that he sexually assaulted her on Capitol Hill in '93 when she went one day to give him a gym bag.

She said he allegedly kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers; she was 29 and he was 50.

Reade, now 56, previously told a local newspaper last year that when she worked in Biden’s Senate office he crossed a line by touching her on the shoulder and neck and he wanted her to essentially waitress at an event to show off her legs for him.

In a statement posted on Medium on Friday, Biden said the harassment allegation wasn't true.

Biden spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said Thursday, after Kelly began airing her Reade interview: "Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm — and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. 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."

Tara Reade (left) and Megyn Kelly
Tara Reade in April
Max Whittaker/The New York Times/Redux

Reade was originally among several woman who said Biden's touching made them physically uncomfortable. Biden has said he never touched anyone with ill intent and chalked his behavior up to shifting social norms, saying he would be better about personal space.

In March, Reade alleged on The Katie Halper Show podcast that there was more to her story.

“He just had me up against the wall,” Reade told Halper. “The wall was cold. I remember it happened all at once.”

“The gym bag, I don’t know where it went, I handed it to him and it was gone,” Reade said. “And his hands were on me and underneath my clothes, and then he went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers.”

Reade said that she tried to tell other people what happened to her afterward. But after there was no action taken over Biden's alleged harassment and assault, she filed a written complaint with the Senate personnel office, she said — and soon afterwards had her work duties limited and was moved to a windowless office.

A copy of the complaint Reade said she filed has not been located. Biden said on Morning Joe that it would be in the National Archives, not his donated papers at the University of Delaware, and called for a search of those materials.

He that he didn't "remember any type of complaint she may have made."

"It was 27 years ago. I don’t remember, nor does anyone else I’m aware of," he said.

He said he had not reached out to Reade. "It’s 27 years ago. This never happened, and when she first made the claim we made it clear that it never happened," he said. "And that’s as simple as that."

Two top Biden aides whom Reade said she complained to of harassment in ’93 have told PEOPLE they don’t recall working with her or her coming to them.

"If it happened, I would have remembered it,” said Dennis Toner, then the deputy chief of staff. “I don't remember it and I don't believe it's accurate."

In recent days, however, supporters of Reade spoke out for her as well: A former neighbor and a co-worker at another job said Monday that she told them about either Biden's alleged harassment or assault in the '90s. (The neighbor remembered Reade recounting an assault; the co-worker described it as sexual harassment but did not remember more details.)

Lynda LaCasse, who lived in the same apartment complex as Reade in the '90s, told Business Insider on Monday that she felt compelled to back up Reade's story.

From left: former Vice President Joe Bide and Tara Reade (in an undated photo)
Darrian Traynor/Getty; Tara Reade/Twitter

"I don't remember all the details," LaCasse said. "I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated."

LaCasse said that Reade told her about the alleged Biden assault one night in either 1995 or 1996 while outside their shared apartment complex in Morro Bay, California.

The public portion of a report Reade filed in April with Washington, D.C., police stated only that she said “she was the victim of a sexual assault.” According to the complaint, obtained by PEOPLE, she said it occurred between March and May of 1993. She reportedly worked in Biden's office from December 1992 to August 1993.

Reade told The Washington Post she did not remember the exact location of their alleged encounter on Capitol Hill nearly 30 years ago but that they were in semi-private.

In addition to Biden's denial and an earlier denial from a spokeswoman, Biden’s campaign provided a statement from Marianne Baker, who worked as his executive assistant from 1982 to 2010.

Reade has told various news outlets that she went to Baker in '93, along with the two other top Biden aides, to complain of alleged harassment by Biden but not her accusation of assault.

Baker, through her statement, denied this.

She said: "In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone.”