Tara Reade, who has accused United States presidential hopeful Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, said she wanted the politician to be “held accountable” and called on him to drop out of the race for the White House.
Reade said in March Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill corridor 27 years ago when she was a 29-year-old aide in the then-Senator’s Office. Biden, a former US vice president, denies the accusation.
“Joe Biden, please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States,” Reade said in her first on-camera interview, conducted by former Fox News and NBC News journalist Megyn Kelly.
“You want him to withdraw?” asked Kelly in the clip released on Thursday.
“I wish he would, but he won’t,” Reade said, adding: “I think it’s a little late” for an apology.
Pressed by a Florida television station about Reade’s comment, Biden reiterated his denial of the allegation.
“The truth is what matters,” the 77-year-old told Bay News 9. “In this case, the truth is these claims are flat-out false.”
The interview came as new written evidence from the 1990s emerged showing Reade – who has not produced the complaint she apparently filed with a congressional personnel office in 1993 – had told her ex-husband that she was sexually harassed while working for Biden.
The 1996 court document, obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune, does not say Biden committed the harassment, nor does it mention Reade’s more recent and serious allegations of sexual assault.
Reade’s then-husband, Theodore Dronen, wrote in the court declaration that Reade had told him about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in US Senator Joe Biden’s office”.
Trump donor representing Reade
Separately, The Associated Press news agency reported on Thursday that Reade was being represented by Douglas Wigdor, a prominent lawyer and political donor to President Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican campaign.
Wigdor told AP news agency he was not currently being paid for his work with Reade. His firm also denied there was political motivation for his decision to represent Reade in her accusations against Trump’s presumptive opponent in the November election.
“We have decided to take this matter on because every survivor has the right to competent counsel,” the firm said in a statement.
Wigdor has been a supporter of Trump and provided about $55,000 in campaign contributions in 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has also given tens of thousands of dollars to state and local Democratic politicians in New York, according to AP news agency. He has not donated to either Trump’s or Biden’s 2020 campaign.
Reade, 56, has said for weeks she was struggling to find a lawyer willing to represent her.
In March, she alleged that Biden pinned her against a wall, put his hands “down my skirt” and violated her.
Reade’s public account evolved over time. In early 2019, she was among multiple women who accused Biden not of assault but of touching them inappropriately, or in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.
She has since presented a more serious claim of assault.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager released a statement on Thursday challenging some of Reade’s assertions.
“More and more inconsistencies keep emerging,” Kate Bedingfield said, according to The Washington Post.
“Women … must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm,” she said.
“At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth. And the truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity.”
Reade said she would “absolutely” speak under oath about what happened.
Asked if she would take a polygraph test, she said such requests would set a poor precedent for survivors of violence.
“I will take one if Joe Biden takes one,” Reade said. “But I am not a criminal.”
Reade in the past has publicly expressed support for Bernie Sanders, the progressive candidate who quit the Democratic nomination race in April and endorsed Biden.