Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her decades ago already had more behind it than did Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of the same crime. Blasey Ford couldn’t produce any witness to say she complained about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct at or around the time it supposedly occurred. Reade has two such witnesses, one of her friends at the time and her brother.
Now, Reade has more corroboration. She has said she complained to her mother about Biden’s behavior. Unfortunately, Reade’s mother is dead.
However, there is evidence that Reade’s mother complained about misconduct directed at her daughter soon after Reade left Biden’s staff. From Ryan Grim at the Intercept:
In interviews with The Intercept, Reade. . .mentioned that her mother had made a phone call to “Larry King Live” on CNN, during which she made reference to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill. Reade told The Intercept that her mother called in asking for advice after Reade, then in her 20s, left Biden’s office. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help?. . . .
On August 11, 1993, King aired a program titled, “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” Toward the end of the program, he introduces a caller dialing in from San Luis Obispo, California. Congressional records list August 1993 as Reade’s last month of employment with Biden’s Senate office, and, according to property records, Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County. Here is the transcript of the beginning of the call:
KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
KING: In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?
CALLER: That’s true.
Grim played a recording of this call for Reade. She confirmed that it’s her mother’s voice.
The mother didn’t identify Biden, or even sexual harassment/assault. And it mentions “respect for [the Senator].” However, the tape confirms, I think, that Reade complained to the Senator’s office about a serious problem of some kind of misconduct and “could not get through.”
This casts serious doubt on claims by Biden staffers that Reade never lodged a complaint with the office. Moreover, it seems likely that the subject of the mother’s complaint was the same as the subject of Reade’s complaints to her friend and brother — Joe Biden.
The call to Larry King and the statements of Reade’s friend and her brother persuade me that, more likely than not, Reade was the victim of serious sexual misconduct (at a minimum) by Joe Biden. And clearly, her claim of assault has more supporting evidence than Blasey Ford’s claim against Brett Kavanaugh.
Does this mean Biden should drop out of, or be removed from, the presidential race? I don’t think so. When an alleged victim of sexual assault waits as long as Reade did to go public with her allegations, I think she needs to have more evidence than Reade has been able to muster so far.
Reade’s allegations are “credible,” to use the unfortunate term so common in these cases. However, allegations should be more than credible in cases like this. And, in my opinion, they need to pass a higher standard than “more likely true than false” in order to justify the removal of a candidate selected by his party’s voters to run for public office.
Voters, of course, are free to evaluate charges like Reade’s (as well as allegations of sexual misconduct by President Trump) when they vote.