Tara Reade, a former United States Senate staffer who claims Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, is to be represented by a prominent lawyer who worked on sexual harassment cases against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and Fox News, as she pursues a case against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
The lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, donated tens of thousands of dollars to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has also given tens of thousands of dollars to state and local Democratic politicians in New York, including New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, one of the leaders of the Democrats’ impeachment efforts in January, and New York Attorney General Letitia James. He has not donated to either Trump’s or Biden’s 2020 campaign.
Wigdor told The Associated Press news agency that he was not currently being paid for his work with Reade. His firm also denied there was a political motivation for his decision to represent Reade in her accusations against Biden.
“We have decided to take this matter on because every survivor has the right to competent counsel,” the firm said in a statement.
Reade has said for weeks that she was struggling to find a lawyer willing to represent her. She has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she worked on his Senate staff.
On Thursday, Reade said she wanted Biden to be “held accountable” and called on him to drop out of the presidential race. Her comments came in her first on-camera interview, conducted by former Fox News and NBC News journalist Megyn Kelly.
MK EXCLUSIVE: Will Tara Reade go under oath or take a polygraph? pic.twitter.com/aBXohhg14n
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) May 7, 2020
Pressed by a Florida television station on Thursday about Reade’s comment, Biden repeated his denial of the allegation.
“The truth is what matters,” he told Bay News 9. “In this case, the truth is these claims are flat-out false.”
Wigdor is well known for his work on prominent cases related to sexual harassment and assault. He represented six women who accused Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood producer, of sexual misconduct. He has also represented a number of Fox News employees in cases alleging gender and racial discrimination at the network, including Juliet Huddy, one of the women who accused host Bill O’Reilly of pursuing a sexual relationship with her and retaliating when she refused.
In 2018, he spoke out in the media in defence of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Wigdor said he plans to help Reade in her dealings with the media and any independent investigations into her allegations that might occur. He said the two have not discussed bringing a lawsuit based on her claims, but he did not rule that out.
Biden denies ex-staffer Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation (2:18)
Wigdor suggested Reade’s earlier struggles to find a lawyer to represent her were the result of “politics”.
“I think highly of a lot of these people,” he said. “These are my friends and colleagues, people who I respect, but they tend to be Democrats or liberals, and they were not interested, because of that, in representing Tara Reade.”
Reade first spoke out about her alleged interactions with Biden in 2019, telling journalists he had touched her inappropriately while she worked on his Senate staff. She came forward in 2020, around the time Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee, with new allegations of assault.
She says she did not initially disclose the assault allegations because she was scared of a backlash and was still coming to terms with what had happened to her.