“I think they should vote their heart. And if they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade,” Biden responded.
Reade, who worked in Biden’s office when he served as a U.S. senator from Delaware, has alleged Biden assaulted her in a Senate hallway in 1993. He categorically denied the accusations earlier this month, and called for the National Archives to locate a complaint Reade says she filed with a Capitol personnel office at the time — a search which has thus far proved inconclusive.
On Thursday, Biden said he did not remember Reade from his time in the Senate, and vacillated between casting doubt on her account and arguing that all women who come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct or assault deserve a fair hearing.
“Look, let me get something clear: When a woman makes a claim that she has been harassed or abused — and this claim has changed as it’s gone on — but harassed or abused, she should be taken seriously,” he said, later asserting that Reade’s story “changes considerably.”
Republicans have seized upon Biden’s posture throughout the Reade controversy to brand him as hypocritical, contending that the former vice president and his defenders within the Democratic Party afforded no similar benefit of the doubt to Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation process — which was also marred by sexual assault allegations.
President Donald Trump, however, has evinced something approaching sympathy for Biden, saying he hopes Reade’s allegations are false and encouraging his likely general election rival to “go out and fight” the claims. Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault by nearly two dozen women and has denied all of those accounts.