Biden’s misdirection

One of Joe Biden’s main talking points during his interview today with Mika Brzezinski about Tara Reade’s sexual assault claim was that he has asked the National Archives to search his Senate personnel files for any record of a complaint by Reade. Biden insisted that such a complaint would be in personnel files and that such files are at the Archives, not among Biden’s Senate papers housed at the University of Delaware — papers to which Biden won’t grant access.

According to this report, however, the Archives says that personnel files from Biden’s Senate days aren’t kept there. If this is true, and it makes sense to me, then Biden’s request that the Archives search for Reade’s complaint looks like misdirection by the former vice president.

It’s possible Biden didn’t know that his Senate personnel records aren’t housed at the Archives. However, if Biden were serious about making a good faith effort to determine whether Reade filed a formal complaint, I think he would have checked with the Archives before asking it to conduct a search. If, on the other hand, Biden just wanted a talking point to get him through the interview with Brzezinski, he probably wouldn’t have checked first, as appears to be the case.

Where would Biden’s ancient Senate personnel files be housed? It’s not clear.

Senate rules require all “noncurrent” records to be transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA) at the end of each Congress. Perhaps Reade’s formal complaint, if she lodged one, is there.

However, documents from the Senate’s Office of Fair Employment Practices, which I believe is the shop that would have handled a sexual misconduct complaint, reportedly are governed by a Senate resolution that bars their release for 50 years. Perhaps, though, such documents can be released with the consent of the ex-Senator and the complaining party.

We probably won’t find out before the election whether Tara Reade formally complained about Joe Biden’s alleged conduct. However, the evidence strongly suggests that she complained about it to family members and friends.

It doesn’t matter much whether Reade filed a formal complaint. It doesn’t even matter that much whether she complained at all. A complaint isn’t the be-all-end-all in these cases. A person can make a false complaint. It happens a lot. And a person can keep an incident like this to herself.

However, Biden has focused the inquiry on the issue of whether Reade filed a formal complaint. If one somehow pops up, or if someone credible remembers such a complaint, it will be a blow to Biden. But he seems determined to make sure this doesn’t happen.

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