Politics

Biden sex assault accuser Tara Reade calls for him to drop out of 2020 presidential race, says she'd take polygraph if he 'takes one'

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Key Points
  • The woman who says presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 called on him to withdraw from the 2020 election in a new interview.
  • The woman, Tara Reade, also has retained a law firm that represents women who claim that they were victims of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, the fallen movie mogul whose serial abuse of women sparked the #MeToo movement.
  • Reade said "I wish he would" when journalist Megyn Kelly asked if Biden should exit the race for the White House.
  • Biden, who served as vice president under President Barack Obama, strongly denies Reade's claim that he forcibly penetrated his then-Senate staffer against her will in a Capitol Hill office hallway.
In this April 4, 2019, photo Tara Reade poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press in Nevada City, Calif.
Donald Thompson | AP

The woman who says presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 called on him to withdraw from the 2020 election in a new interview, as she also declared that she would be willing to testify under oath and take a polygraph "if Joe Biden takes one."

The woman, Tara Reade, also has retained a law firm that represents women who claim that they were victims of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, the fallen movie mogul whose serial abuse of women sparked the #MeToo movement, that firm announced.

Reade said in an interview with journalist Megyn Kelly that she wanted to tell Biden, who strongly denies her claim, "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 in a brief portion of the interview posted Thursday on Twitter by Kelly, a former host of NBC's "TODAY" show.

Asked by Kelly if she wants Biden to quit the race for the White House, Reade said, "I wish he would, but he won't."

"But I wish he would," she said. "That's how I feel emotionally."

Twitter

 Asked if she wants an apology from Biden, Reade answered, "I think it's a little late."

In another section of the interview tweeted by Kelly, Reade said that she "absolutely" would be willing to testify under oath, and be subjected to cross-examination, about her claims regarding Biden.

She also said that she would be willing to take a polygraph, although she questioned the need for her 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?" Reade asked.

"So I will take one if Joe Biden takes one," she added. "But I'm not a criminal." 

Tweet

In an interview with Tampa Bay News 9 on Thursday, Biden was asked to react to Reade's interview and her call for him to drop his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

Biden said that "nothing ever happened with Reade."

The New York firm Wigdor LLP said in a statement Thursday that it had been retained by Reade as legal counsel.

"We at Wigdor LLP firmly believe that every survivor of sexual assault has the right to competent legal counsel, and we will represent Ms. Reade zealously, just as we would any other victim of sexual violence," said the statement issued by Douglas Wigdor, the firm's name partner. 

Biden, who served as vice president from 2009 through 2017, last week in an extensive interview denied Reade's claim that he assaulted his then-Senate staffer against her will in the 1993 when she allegedly was giving him a gym bag in a hallway on Capitol Hill.

"I'm saying unequivocally that it never, never happened," Biden said in an interview last Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Biden in that interview had referred to "the full and growing record of inconsistencies" in Reade's accusations and said: "They aren't true. This never happened."

Wigdor, in his statement, said, "Ms. Reade will be heard shortly in an interview conducted by Megyn Kelly and produced by Richard McHugh, and she will describe to the American public what happened to her."

"Her harrowing account is credible and supported by numerous 'outcry' witnesses from decades ago."

McHugh is a former NBC News producer who worked with journalist and author Ronan Farrow on an expose of Weinstein's sexual misconduct, which Farrow ultimately published in The New Yorker after NBC declined to air his work.

Reade rattled Biden's presidential campaign in March with an interview on a podcast in which she said that Biden pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his finger in a hallway when he was a senator from Delaware. 

Reade's brother and a former neighbor have said that she discussed details of the alleged assault with them in the 1990s.

But a number of people who worked in Biden's Senate office at the same time as Reade have said that her claims do not jibe with their own experience working for him.

CNBC reported Thursday that Republican groups are aiming to use the sexual assault allegations against Biden in their battle with Democrats in key Senate races in this year's campaign.

The GOP organizations argue that Democrats are applying a different standard to Biden than they did to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford during his Senate confirmation process. Kavanaugh denied Ford's claims.

Wigdor's statement also said, "It is inevitable that partisan politics will lead people to attack our firm and Mr. Wigdor specifically, particularly given his support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign."

"However, any objective view of Mr. Wigdor's career and the history of the Firm (which is comprised of partners, lawyers and staff from all political parties) belie such a false narrative and make clear that our representation is simply a continuation of our objective support of all legitimate victims," the email said.

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The statement cited the fact that Wigdor "was a vocal advocate of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her counsel during the nomination of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh," whom Ford accused of a sexual assault.

Wigdor also noted that he represented Juliet Huddy in connection with her claims against former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, and "lead counsel to a group of employees who brought race discrimination and harassment claims against Fox News."

He also brought a claim against Fox News alleging that it had conspired with a Trump supported to publish a defamatory article concerning the murder of Seth Rich. 

And Wigdor noted that he "represents six Harvey Weinstein victims."

"There are many other examples that we could list, but we wanted to be crystal clear.  Our representation of Ms. Reade has absolutely nothing to do with politics.  We have decided to take this matter on because every survivor has the right to competent counsel, and that is exactly what we will provide," the statement said.

"As Mr. Biden himself has acknowledged, 'believing women means taking the women's claims seriously when she steps forward, and then vet[ting] it and look[ing] into it ... women have a right to be heard.'  We will help Ms. Reade be heard."