In an interview on MSNBC Friday morning, Democratic nominee Joe Biden was finally asked about the credible sexual assault allegations leveled against him by a former Senate staffer.
Biden unequivocally denied his accuser’s sexual assault allegations and said he would not allow his Senate records at the University of Delaware to be unsealed because they contain “confidential information” from his senatorial days, such as conversations with world leaders like Vladimir Putin.
In an interview on March 25, former Democrat staffer Tara Reade accused Biden of pinning her against a wall at the Capitol in 1993, where he reached under her skirt and penetrated her with his finger.
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski interview with Biden on “Morning Joe” over a month later marks the first time the candidate has been questioned about the matter by a member of the media.
“It is not true, I am saying unequivocally it never never happened and it didn’t,” Biden insisted. “It never happened.”
He added, “this is an open book. There’s nothing for me to hide. Nothing at all.”
Brzezinski pressed Biden to unseal his Senate records stored at the University of Delaware.
“Are you certain there was nothing about Tara Reade in those records?” she asked.
“I am absolutely certain,” Biden replied.
Although he said he had “nothing at all” to hide, Biden said there was “a lot of confidential conversations” in the documents that could be “taken out of context.”
“The idea that they would all be made public” while he was running for president would mean “they could be really taken out of context,” he said, adding that the university has “a lot of confidential conversations that I had with the president about a particular issue, that I had with the heads of states of other places.”
“They’re position papers, they are documents that existed for example when I met with Putin, when I met with whomever” Biden explained, adding that his old positions and meetings could be used as “fodder for his campaign.”
In a written statement Friday, Biden said that the place to look would be the National Archives.
“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives,” he said. “The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
He told Brzezinski that there would be no personnel records on file at the university.
“If so, why not approve a search of her name in those records?” she asked. After a pregnant pause, Biden said, “approve a search of her name?”
The host reiterated that he could approve a search for anything having to do with Reade in the University of Delaware records.
“There is nothing!” he insisted. “They’re not there! I-I-I—you know—I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make!” he stammered.
“The point I’m trying to make is you are approving and actually calling for a search of the National Archives records of anything pertaining to Tara Reade,” Brzezinski said. “I’m asking, why not do the same in the University of Delaware records.”
The host added that the records “were supposed to be revealed to the public and then they were sealed for a longer period of time. Why not do it for both sets of records” she asked.
Biden repeated his claim that the University of Delaware has no personnel files, and argued that his confidential conversations needed to be kept under seal while he was in office, or running for public office.
“It just stands to reason. As far as I know, no one else has done that either,” he said.
“I’m just asking about her name and nothing else,” Brzezinski persisted.
After another long, pregnant pause, Biden said, “look, who does that search?”
“The University of Delaware? Perhaps you set up a commission?” the host replied. “Whatever is the fairest way to create the most transparency.”
“Look, Mika,” Biden responded. “She said she filed a report. She has her employment records still. She said she filed a report with the only office that would have a report—in the United States Senate at the time. If the report was ever filed, it was filed there, period,” he said.
Brzezinski also asked Biden about remarks he made two years ago during the Kavanaugh hearings.
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time,” Biden said at the time. He called for a delay in the confirmation vote in the Senate to allow for a congressional hearing with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Ford had zero corroborating witnesses and couldn’t remember when and where the alleged assault took place. Kavanaugh strenuously and unequivocally denied the allegations.
Unlike Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh, Reade’s story has been corroborated by her brother, a close friend and a former neighbor.
Moreover, a 1993 “Larry King Live” clip recently surfaced featuring Tara Reade’s mother calling into the show to talk about the “problems” her daughter faced while working as a staffer for a powerful Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
“Is the essence of what she is saying real?” Brzezinski said of Reade’s allegations. “Why do you think she’s doing this?”
“I’m not going to question her motive, I’m not going to get into that at all,” Biden replied. “I don’t know why these she’s saying this. I don’t know why after 27 years all of a sudden this gets raised. I don’t understand that. 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. But I have a right to say, look at the facts, check it out. Find out if what any of what she says is true.”
Brzezinski challenged Biden’s answer. “As it pertained to Dr. Ford, high-level Democrats said she should be believed, that they believed it happened,” Brzezinski said. “You said, if someone like Dr. Ford were to come out, the essence of what she is saying has to be believed, has to be real. Why? Why? Why is it real for Dr. Ford, but not for Tara Reade?”
Biden argued that his positions are perfectly consistent.
“I’m not suggesting she had no right to come forward,” Biden said. “Any woman, they should come forward, they should be heard. And then it should be investigated. And if there’s anything that is consistent with what’s being said, and she makes the case or the case is made, then it should be believed. But only the truth matters.”