Tara Reade repeated her allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden in an in-depth interview with Megyn Kelly released on Friday, answering questions on who she shared her story with and why she supported the former vice president publicly in the past.
Reade has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she worked as an aide in his Senate office. She told Kelly, a former Fox News and NBC host who memorably sparred with Trump during the 2016 campaign over his treatment of women, that Biden pushed her against the wall in a Senate hallway and digitally penetrated her against her will.
“He had his hands underneath my clothes and it happened all at once,” she said.
She said Biden pulled back when he saw she wasn’t reciprocating. “He looked at me and said ‘C’mon man, I heard you liked me’,” Reade said. “He pointed his finger at me and said ‘You’re nothing to me’,” she added.
Biden has forcefully denied Reade’s allegations.
“It is not true,” Biden said in an interview on MSNBC last week, his first public comment since the allegation first emerged in late March. “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.”
He again denied the allegation in an appearance on a local news channel in Tampa on Thursday, after Kelly published excerpts of Reade’s interview.
“Nothing ever happened with Tara Reade,” Biden said, adding: “In this case, the truth is the claims are flat out false.”
In the 42-minute interview, Kelly asked Reade detailed questions about the alleged incident and the repercussions Reade says she faced afterwards.
She was also pressed on who she told about the allegations and why she came forward with them now. Reade was one of eight women who came forward last year to accuse Biden of conduct that made them feel uncomfortable during her employment in his office, which lasted less than a year from 1992 to 1993. She first went public with her allegations of sexual abuse on a 25 March podcast, and has repeated her allegations to several media outlets since.
Read said she lacked the courage to speak up before, and faced difficulties in getting heard by news outlets. Reporters of several media organizations, including the New York Times and Vox have investigated Reade’s story in the past months.
Reade also told Kelly she thought Biden should withdraw from the presidential race and that the former vice president should not be running for president on his character.
Reade also said she would “absolutely” be willing to tell her story under oath and submit to cross-examinations. But asked if she would take a polygraph test, she said: “I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph.”
The interview aired in part on Thursday as the San Luis Obispo Tribune unearthed a 1996 court document, which stated that Reade had told to her ex-husband that she had been subject to sexual harassment while working in Biden’s Senate office. It is the first contemporaneous record to corroborate her claim.
According to the document, filed in the California Superior Court and dated 25 March 1996, Reade’s ex-husband, Theodore Dronen, said that Reade told him about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in US Senator Joe Biden’s office.” The Tribune reported that the document does not state who committed the harassment nor does it mention Reade’s more recent allegation of sexual assault.
Dronen wrote that Reade told him she had struck a deal with the chief of staff in Biden’s office and “left her position.” The experience had a “very traumatic effect” on Reade, he added in the court declaration, which was in response to her request for a temporary restraining order against him.
Trump’s re-election campaign had already sought to weaponize the allegation to attack Biden’s character while Republicans have used the accusation to accuse Congressional Democrats who are standing by their nominee of hypocrisy.
Trump has been more circumspect than his campaign about the allegation. In an hour-long interview with Fox & Friends on Friday, he said he hoped Reade’s allegation was “false” while comparing Biden’s predicament sympathetically to his own.
Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by more than a dozen women, charges which he has denied. He previously advised Biden to “go out and fight” the claim.
On Thursday, the law firm of Douglas Wigdor announced that it was representing Reade. Wigdor, who donated to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has previously represented Fox News employees in a race discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the network as well as women who accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
“Our representation of Tara Reade has nothing to do with politics,” the firm said in a statement.
Kelly was among the most prominent women at Fox News to accuse the network’s chairman, Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment. Ailes resigned in disgrace in 2016, and died a year later. Their decision to publicly expose Ailes was the basis for a feature film last year, Bombshell.