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Biden complaint did not say ‘sexual harassment,’ says Reade

Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden continues to face an allegation of sexual assault from Tara Reade, who worked for Biden 27 years ago in his Senate office. Biden has denied the allegation. The Associated Press this weekend published a story on Reade’s recollection of a report she says exists but does not possess. One of the authors, Alexandra Jaffe, joins Karina Mitchell with more.

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  • Karina Mitchell:

    Former Vice President and Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden, continues to face an allegation of sexual assault from Tara Reade, who worked for him 27 years ago in Biden's senate office.

    Biden denied the allegation in television interviews over the past two days.

    Yesterday the Associated Press published a story focused on Reade's recollection of a written report she says exists but does not possess.

    Alexandra Jaffe — one of the authors of that AP story– joins us now from Washington D.C. With the latest on this still developing story.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    A lot's happened since Joe Biden first publicly spoke about Reade's allegation and your AP report interviewing Reade. Since then, Reade has said some of the reporting in your interview isn't wholly accurate.

    Give us a quick tick tock of everything that's happened since your interview came out.

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    Sure.

    When I spoke with her, I tried to get sort of her to clarify whether she filed a full report and what the report said. And she told me that she filed only an intake form. So she basically just filled out a form with some basic information about herself in her office. And within that intake form, she did not use the words sexual harassment or assault.

    She said that she described an incident in which she was asked to serve drinks at a fundraiser because Joe Biden liked her legs and the retaliation that she experienced after that. But she repeatedly told me that she was too scared to use the words sexual harassment and was not that specific.

    In the sort of day since we spoke she's gotten a lot of backlash. A number of Biden supporters have suggested that that sort of shift in the story or clarification raises further doubts about the veracity of her claims.

    And so I think she's been trying to sort of clarify what she told me on Friday, but she has not necessarily walked back on the fact that she had didn't use the word sexual harassment or assault.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    Yeah and that's something that she is sticking to at the moment. And this isn't the first time that AP's interviewed her.

    You also spoke to her back in 2019. Why is this the first time we're hearing about those interviews?

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    The April of 2019 interviews were conducted by two reporters, one of whom was part of our investigative team trying to vet these claims back when Tara first came forward and alledge that Joe Biden sexually harassed her.

    That was before she she came forward with the allegation of assault. And we didn't end up publishing a story on sort of that exhaustive vetting process because we simply could not corroborate her claims.

    The reporter that conducted those interviews then spoke with over nearly two dozen former Biden staffers, none of whom sort of could corroborate these claims, none of whom remembered this happening.

    And Tara Reade herself could not bring forward enough sort of evidence to to support her claims. So we decided not to publish it.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    And what about now? Have you found anyone further that will corroborate these stories?

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    I can tell you, I've spoken with two people who spoke to me anonymously out of concern for their family, one of whom said that Tara expressed to her about a decade after the incident that she was sexually harassed by her boss in Washington.

    Another woman told me that Tara did indeed tell her at the time that she was sexually assaulted by her boss in Washington. But those were sort of anonymous sources. And without any written proof, it's tough to say.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    What's coming out of the Biden camp. What are you hearing from then? And what about those records from the University of Delaware? Will we see them anytime soon?

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    I think that this has brought renewed focus on Joe Biden's papers, which remain sort of locked away at University of Delaware. He has refused to call for them to be released. The university has said they are not going to release them until two years after Joe Biden exits public life and speaking with the Biden campaign, you know, they're not weighing in on this.

    And that's been their sort of protocol with dealing with the Tara Reade allegations. They've largely largely left it up to the media to vet her claims and to report on what she's saying. And they're staying quiet and letting sort of the Vice President's comments Friday speak for themselves.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    So tell me, how are Republicans in the Trump administration responding to all of the noise that's going on about this story?

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    Republicans have seized on this as evidence that both Democrats and the media are treating this with hypocrisy, that they have not gone after Joe Biden, in the same way that they went after, you know, Brett Kavanaugh when he was accused of sexual assault.

    I think that that sort of line of attack is going to continue because it gets at two major arguments for Republicans, one that Democrats aren't consistent on this question of character. That's a central sort of focus and argument for Joe Biden that he has a stronger character than Donald Trump. And two Republicans frequently raise doubts about the media, any questions about the media's coverage. And this really gets at that question as well.

  • Karina Mitchell:

    Thank you so much for your time.

  • Alexandra Jaffe:

    Thank you for having me.

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