After weeks of mounting pressure from voters and lawmakers alike, former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe on May 1 to address a former staffer's sexual misconduct allegations against him. In April 2019, Tara Reade was one of eight women who accused Biden of alleged inappropriate touching, and in March 2020 Reade publicly alleged Biden had sexually assaulted her in 1993, when he was a senator. During his Morning Joe appearance, the former vice president firmly denied any of this happened, but Joe Biden's response to the Tara Reade allegations is getting mixed reviews.
Since Biden became the presumptive nominee in early April 2020, Reade's allegations have garnered increased attention, especially given the numerous allegations of inappropriate touching Biden has faced in the past. In April 2019, shortly before launching his 2020 campaign, Biden said he would be "more mindful" about people's boundaries around physical contact.
But in April 2020, Reade filed a criminal complaint against Biden with Washington, D.C. police, alleging that Biden had sexually assaulted her when she was working for him in the early 1990s. On May 1, Biden publicly and directly addressed Reade's allegations for the first time during an interview with Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski.
In the interview, Brzezinski asked Biden, "Did you sexually assault Tara Reade?" To which Biden responded, "No. It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally: It never, never happened. And it didn’t. It never happened." Biden went on to say he did not remember Reade making any complaints about him as a staffer, and that "no one ever brought it to the attention of me 27 years ago" when the incident allegedly took place. Elite Daily reached out to the Biden presidential campaign for additional comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In addition to denying Reade's allegations, Biden released a statement on Medium, in which he called for the National Archives to publicly release any complaints allegedly lodged by Reade. Reade has claimed she filed a complaint regarding her alleged treatment in Biden's office at the time of the alleged assault, although she said the alleged complaint did not include mention of any alleged assault. As of May 1, the alleged complaint has yet to be located by journalists, and Reade has said she does not have a copy of her own. Biden echoed this in his post, stating that Reade did not have any record of the alleged complaint she filed against Biden back in 1993, and adding that none of his other former employees could corroborate her alleged account.
Although Biden finally publicly addressed Reade's allegations, the reactions to both his statement and his Morning Joe appearance were mixed. Some Twitter users applauded Biden for publicly addressing Reade's allegations, while some weighed in on who they believed, and still others were uncertain about the situation as a whole.
A few Twitter users also suggested that Biden's call for the National Archives to release Reade's alleged complaint against him might not be that useful, given that by Reade's own description it did not mention any alleged assault.
Reade's allegations and Biden's response will likely face continuing scrutiny as the 2020 election cycle continues — but Biden is not the only 2020 candidate who faces allegations of sexual misconduct. More than two dozen women have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, per The Independent. Trump has repeatedly denied all of these allegations, most recently on April 30, when he suggested that the accusations levied against him were "false accusations."
"I think he should respond," Trump told reporters on Thursday, April 30, when asked what he would say to Biden. "You know, it’s — it could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations. I’ve been falsely charged numerous times." With Biden and Trump expected to go head to head for the presidency in November, it is likely that the sexual assault allegations against both them will play a key role in their respective campaigns.