(Thanks to my friend and colleague Darrell Lucus, who was kind enough to share some of his research with me for this article.)
Tara Reade is an unrepetant, shameless liar. That is not a fact. It’s a conclusion I am quite comfortable drawing from the evidence we’ve seen.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. We need to discuss how we talk about Joe Biden in light of these specious allegations. I’ll get to that in a little while. Short version: if we choose to disbelieve the Reade allegations, then we need to not call Biden an “alleged sexual abuser” or any other such garbage appellations. Don’t do it. If you do, then much of the damage Reade apparently intended to do is done.
I was sexually molested at age 14 by a man who I thought was a friend. My next-door neighbor, another 14-year old boy, was also molested by the same man. My wife survived a large number of horrific sexual attacks from multiple people, including family members. We are not the only two in our families to experience sexual abuse. So when I declare my willingness to call Reade a liar (as well as another Biden accuser, former GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who was debunked within hours), I don’t go there hastily. Anyone who says they were sexually harassed or abused should be listened to, and their allegations thoroughly examined. But, since people can and do lie about, well, anything, they should not instantly be believed and the ones they accuse should not instantly be convicted in the court of public opinion.
I don’t like talking about that personal shit. But, you have a right to know where I am coming from.
Warning: This is a long-ass article. You may not want to read it all at once. Take a break. Bike around the neighborhood. Pet the cat. Do a jello shot. Whatever. It took me a while to sort through everything and put it together, and it will take you some time to get through it – especially since I really want you to read the end. (If you skip to the last section, you won’t hurt my feelings too much.)
March 2020 Allegations
On March 25, Reade, a former member of Biden’s Senate staff, went on Katie Halper’s podcast and accused Biden of publicly groping her in the Senate Office Building in 1993. She said that she brought Biden a duffel bag as per his request. Biden pushed her against a wall, kissed her neck, put his hand under her skirt, penetrated her with his fingers and asked, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” For an April 19 NPR article, she told a reporter,
His hands went underneath my clothing and he was touching me in my private areas and without my consent.
Reade says she must have refused him – her memories are unclear – and then he said, “You’re nothing to me, nothing.” Moments later he took her by the shoulders and said, “You’re okay. You’re fine. You’re OK,” picked up the bag, and walked away.
Biden staunchly denied the allegations, telling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, “I am saying unequivocally: It never, never happened,” and advising that all such allegations should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. His deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, issued a statement reading:
Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard – and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.
Reade is now calling for Biden to drop out, and says she is willing to take a lie detector test if Biden will take one first. (Yes, the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused, but Reade, who has her law degree, doesn’t take that position.)
This is a serious allegation. And if true, Biden would not be the first, or the fiftieth, member of Congress to sexually harass and abuse their interns and staffers. And if true, it would cast a huge shadow on his presidential candidacy.
So why don’t I believe her, when I believe Trump’s accusers, Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, some of Bill Clinton’s accusers, and others?
Reade’s Story Changed Dramatically
For one, because her story has changed radically over the years. When she originally told the story to family and friends, and later wrote about her treatment in a small California newspaper, The Union, in April 2019. she didn’t mention the hallway encounter at all. Instead, she said, he touched her on her shoulders several times, and once he ran his finger up her neck. She also alleged that he once wanted her to serve drinks at a function because, she recalled, someone told her he liked her legs. No one can confirm these allegations, and a large number of women who worked for Biden have said that they never felt for a moment that he was capable of sexually harassing them. (Biden is well known to be “handsy” with both men and women, being fond of hugs, touches, smooches, and even nuzzling someone’s hair or cheek. He’s admitted to that and said he would do better. I accept that. What I see in the video clips I’ve seen show him treating women, and sometimes men, like they’re his grandchildren, and he’s the overly affectionate grandpa that likes to hug and rub noses. Definitely inappropriate at times, and condescending and inappropriate with women subordinates, but nowhere near the flagrant groping Reade now alleges.)
It’s worth re-emphasizing. In April 2019, she wrote an article about her treatment by Biden, specifically saying that his actions were not “sexualization” and hers is not “a story about sexual misconduct.” Instead, she claimed, he demeaned her by treating her like an object. According to the reporter:
She instead compared her experience to being a lamp. “It’s pretty. Set it over there,” she said. “Then when it’s too bright, you throw it away.”
Then in March 2020, she radically changed her story to an ugly tale about being groped in a public hallway. Do people who suffer sexual abuse change their stories over time? Undoubtedly, and Reade has claimed that she was too fearful to tell the truth about Biden until March 2020.
(She promoted that Union article from April 2019 as recently as March 15, 2020, ten days before she went public with her new allegations:)
Here is my answer but I do not talk about what he did to me. Too scared.
— taratweets ( Alexandra Tara Reade) (@ReadeAlexandra) March 16, 2020
Worse: she wrote an article on Medium in April 2019, “A Girl Walks into the Senate,” that contained information very similar to her interviews and articles in other sources. But, on March 24, 2020, she quietly edited the Medium piece to more closely jibe with her current story. While she did not specifically include the allegation about Biden groping her, she edited the article to more closely reflect the current version of her story. The author of the article that documents her changes, “RomansResearch,” concludes:
What this all means is up to you. But this much is clear: In the same day she accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, Tara Reade edited her previous statements to better match her new allegations.
She gave an interview to the Washington Post on April 4, 2019, where she claimed that she left Biden’s employ because the senior staff was “bullying” her. She said the staffers told her to dress less provocatively and reduced her responsibilities, before asking for her resignation. She said then:
This is what I want to emphasize: It’s not him. It’s the people around him who keep covering for him. … For instance, he should have known what was happening to me. … Looking back now, that’s my criticism. Maybe he could have been a little more in touch with his own staff.
I wasn’t scared of him, that he was going to take me in a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibe.
Both the Post and the AP declined to publish a report based on its interview, because reporters could not corroborate any of her claims.
Praise for Biden Until 2019
For years, Reade has praised Biden on women’s issues, mostly on her Twitter account. Between 2009 and 2017, she was effusive in her praise for him for his work in ending domestic violence and championing women’s rights. She also told her Twitter followers in 2017 that “my old boss speaks truth,” and congratulated him on winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Many of her tweets are no longer available, and hence not linked. Screenshots are available in the articles cited.)
Her story about being “fired” from Biden’s staff has changed over the years, too. Currently, she says Biden had her fired from his staff because, she wrote, “What started with promise and possibility, ended because some prominent Senator decided that he liked my legs.” Depending on what she wrote or told people, she resigned, or was “forced to resigned,” or was fired, or left of her own accord. In 2009, she wrote that she left Biden’s staff to accompany a boyfriend who was working for a different Congressional member in the Midwest. And in a now-deleted article from December 2018, she wrote that she left Washington because she admired and respected Russia, and in particular its leader, Vladimir Putin:
I resigned my position and took myself out of the Washington DC beltway. […] I saw the reckless imperialism of America and the pain it caused through out the world. …I love Russia with all my heart. I love the people, the history, the culture and even my attempts to learn the language. I could not stand to watch the deception and xenophobia that came from my own American government. It is so sad and destructive to revile another culture or country for no reason but economic gain.
Which one of these is true? She was fired? Forced to resign? Left to be with a boyfriend? Left because of her admiration of Russia and disgust with America? Damned if I know. She can’t even be consistent about whether she left Washington by car or by plane.
Reade’s 2018-19 Infatuation with Russia
Let’s look more closely at her shifting positions on Russia. In March 2017, she retweeted a story by the New Yorker that detailed how Putin and Russian intelligence are at “war” with America, and how they are trying to “damage American confidence and undermine the Western alliances — diplomatic, financial, and military, that have shaped postwar world.” She was an enthusiastic supporter of Democrats’ calls to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia, and retweeted calls to investigate Russia’s failure to address domestic violence. But sometime in 2018, she radically shifted her position. She published an article (recently deleted after she became front-page news) praising Russia in general and Putin in particular. In this article, Reade seemed to have some kind of physical attraction to Putin, writing:
President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity. It is evident that he loves his country, his people and his job. … President Putin’s obvious reverence for women, children and animals, and his ability with sports is intoxicating to American women.
This about a world leader who has been roundly criticized for his refusal to denounce rape, among other things. She wrote, “I say, ‘Well, he is very good to women, holds them in high regard.’” In December 2018, she wrote another article which she recently deleted, saying Putin terrifies American political leaders because he is “a compassionate, caring, visionary leader.” She accused the US government of trying to set a “trap” for Putin in its allegations of sabotage of the 2016 election. In a third now-deleted article from March 2019, she wrote:
When the anti-Russia, anti-Putin propaganda starts up, personally, I shut down. I love Russia, I love my Russian relatives and friends. And like most women across the world, I like President Putin… a lot, his shirt on or shirt off.
But even this article, written less than a month before she went public with her original allegations against Biden, paints Biden in a positive light. Interesting. In September 2019, she attacked Americans for being “anti-Russian.” In December 2019, Reade was defending Putin on Twitter, denying evidence that Putin was having journalists murdered.
On her Twitter account, she staunchly attacked America and defended Russia until March 2020 — days before her interview with Katie Halper – when she suddenly about-faced and declared she had never supported Russia. Instead, she claimed, she was “writing a novel” which had been quoted out of context by other Twitter users. She called people citing her extraordinary praise for Putin perpetrators of a “false smear campaign.” In March 2019, she told Vox News that she was writing a novel about Russia and reading a lot of Noam Chomsky, so she was apparently including material from her novel in her tweets. She also says she didn’t learn about Putin’s stance on domestic violence (he’s for it) until 2019, which is a blatant lie – in 2017, she was retweeting tweets from Chelsea Handler that blasted Putin for Russia’s decriminalization of domestic violence.
The timeline of events from 2009 through 2019 documenting her decision to leave Washington and her off-then-on-then-off again infatuation with Russia is internally inconsistent. Or, to be less charitable, a incomprehensible mixture of truth and lies. Only Reade knows which ones are which, and I doubt she will ever tell us.
Interestingly, in December 2019, she asked journalist Julia Ioffe via Twitter about a new Russian law labeling foreign journalists as foreign agents.
From Support to Opposition
Let’s loop back to her support for Biden. Until late 2017, she was unstinting in her praise and support for Biden. Then in September 2019, her position suddenly reversed. She issued a tweet urging Biden to be investigated for his “connections” to Ukraine and Burisma – a favorite talking point of Russian intelligence, and far-right and far-left enemies of Biden and his burgeoning presidential candidacy. On March 3, 2020, after Biden soundly defeated Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday and other candidates dropped out of the race, Intercept reporter Ryan Grim wrote that the new focus on a “head to head” comparison between Biden and Sanders may not go well for Biden. Read wrote the following cryptic tweet: “Yup…timing…wait for it. Tic toc.” Obviously Reade was planning on issuing her revised and embellished accusation against Biden after seeing that Biden would suddenly become the Democratic nominee.
It is worth noting that in recent weeks, Reade had suddenly begun supporting Sanders on social media, and Sanders supporters who detest Biden have taken to their own social media accounts to support Reade and accuse Biden of everything from rape to pedophilia (the latter bolstered by patently fake YouTube videos of Biden supposedly groping a child on camera). The Sanders campaign has said nothing about the allegations, and Reade says though she voted for Obama/Biden twice, she will not vote for either Trump or Biden in 2020. Katie Halper, the host of the podcast where Reade made her March 2020 allegations, is a vocal Sanders supporter. Former Sanders staffers David Sirota and Briahna Joy Gray, and Sanders surrogates Peter Daou and John Cusack, among others, are attacking Biden in regards to Reade’s allegations. And she began her own vocal support of Sanders by trashing Biden, calling him “the blue version of Trump” on January 23. Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte writes:
The timeline shows that Reade’s involvement in the online world of Bernie fandom coincided with her escalation of accusations against Biden. To be clear, this does not mean she’s lying. But taken along with the other discrepancies in Reade’s accounts — which are also, on their own, not reasons to discredit her — it’s enough to make publications take a slow and careful approach to amplifying this story.
The day before the March 24 podcast was broadcast, The Intercept ran an article claiming that Time’s Up, the non-profit #MeToo organization, refused to investigate the April 2019 claims by Reade because investigating a candidate for political office could jeopardize its non-profit status. (The claim is accurate.) It wasn’t long before Sanders supporters began accusing Time’s Up of colluding with Biden, allegations that are certainly false. Interestingly, Intercept journalist Ryan Grim later confirmed that he had been in touch with Reade since March, and presumably knew about her upcoming interview with Halper.
Another point of interest: Time’s Up was not the only ones who decided to step away from Reade. The organization put her in touch with several lawyers via its partner, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). None of them agreed to take on Reade as a client. Reade told Marcotte that she wasn’t interested in suing Biden, but instead wanted legal representation to take possible action against those on Twitter and elsewhere accusing her of being a Russian agent. Marcotte writes, “One law firm Reade spoke with confirmed that they would not take a case with the ambiguous goal of trying to shut down people on social media who were speculating about an accuser being a ‘Russian agent.'” Lawyer Carrie Goldberg, who met with Reade, says her firm is not interested in threatening “to sue conspiracy theorists for potentially protected speech.” The lawyers concluded that Reade did not want legal action as much as she did public relations representation to “protect” her against online criticism and pesky reporters.
Reade now has a lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, from the same firm that represented six accusers of Harvey Weinstein. Wigdor donated at least $55,000 to Trump in 2016, and has also donated to Democratic candidates. Another lawyer, William Moran, from a different law firm than Wigdor’s, is also representing Reade. Moran wrote and edited for the Russian disinformation site Sputnik. US intelligence has cited Sputnik as a key element of the Russian propaganda machine.
A History of Lying and Worse
Reade has a lengthy history of lying and more. Let’s start with her name. Is she Tara Reade? Alexandra Reade? Alexandra Tara Reade? Alexandra McCabe? Tara McCabe? Tara Reade Moulton? I don’t know what happened to her birth surname of Moulton. And the McCabe name apparently came from a short-lived marriage that, according to her, led to her being sexually abused by her then-husband (the name change was verified by Marcotte). She’s settled on Alexandra Tara Reade for the time being.
On April 22, a former boss of Reade’s alleged that Reade had defrauded and stolen from a horse rescue group in California. Lynn Hummer, founder of the organization, told reporters:
Tara Reade stole from me. She lied to me. She stole from my organization. She manipulated me and she duped me. I want that to be shared because it’s important information. And I have documentation, images and emails to prove it.
Reade, using the name Tara McCabe, worked for the Pregnant Mare Rescue organization from 2014-2016. She sent an email to Hummer extolling her experience with animal rescue groups, fundraising, and the like, and Hummer brought her into the organization on a volunteer basis. Shortly after joining PMR, Reade began asking Hummer for personal “loans” and help in hiding her car on the PMR’s property (a ranch in Watsonville, California) to avoid repossession. She also asked Hummer to start a GoFundMe campaign for her and ask PMR donors to give Reade money so she could afford to go to Georgia to get away from her ex-husband. Hummer refused, but Reade convinced someone else to create the campaign for her, apparently under an entirely false name. Until the publication of the PMR article, the GFM campaign was still active and had raised over $3,500 for Reade. Apparently she did not leave California for Georgia. Hummer also remembers Reade trying to steal items during an auction being held on PMR’s behalf; another PMR volunteer remembers Reade rigging a raffle so she could “win” one of the raffle prizes for the price of a single ticket. That same year, she convinced Hummer to allow her to adopt a mare named Charm without the usual adoption fees. In 2016, Hummer had a veterinarian treat Charm, and fraudulently arranged for the vet to bill PMR for the services instead of rightfully billing Reade. The cost was $1,420.40. Hummer eventually caught on and demanded Reade pay the costs. Reade refused. Reade denies she did anything illegal.
(Interestingly, Hummer doesn’t recall Reade ever talking about being sexually abused or harassed by anyone except her ex-husband. She told the reporters that Reade always mentioned Biden in positive terms. She asked, perhaps rhetorically, “Why would you talk about someone like that in such a positive way, in such a positive light, if this is someone who attacked you?”
The reporters reached out to Reade for comment in preparation for the article, but Reade declined to comment. She did, however, threaten Hummer by Twitter, writing on April 20 (and apparently deleted afterwards) that Hummer “will stop” and that Reade has reported PMR to the Santa Cruz authorities for animal neglect. She also told Hummer to “stop soliciting funds using my sexual assault story as leverage,” and told her that a lawyer will be in contact with her. The same day, in another now-deleted tweet, Reade threatened Salon journalist Joan Walsh, apparently accusing Walsh of paying or donating money to Hummer and PMR in return for “false information.” Walsh responded: “I have never communicated with her. You best ease up on your threats.” Reade then retreated a bit, advising Walsh that she “may not know” about her allegations about Hummer, and claimed that Hummer had repeatedly been reported multiple times for animal neglect and “scams.” PMR has an outstanding rating as a non-profit organization on Facebook, Google and Great Non-Profits. No evidence of Reade’s claims of neglect and “scam” complaints has surfaced.
This site purports to document several other questionable actions by Reade, including suspect GoFundMe pages and more. I don’t know how much of this is accurate, so I didn’t include it in the artlcle, but the author has a lot of receipts.
A Great Deal of Evidence…Disproving Reade’s Claims
The journalists Brian and Eddie Krassenstein, who wrote the Medium article detailing much of the Reade allegations and the context surrounding them, wrote on April 2 that an anonymous friend of Reade’s told them they “do not believe her allegations” and Reade has always been an attention seeker. The Krassensteins also wrote:
We went out of our way to get Reade on the record to defend herself and also spoke to individuals close to her for years in an effort to get someone to tell us that Reade was telling the truth. Those we spoke to could not do so and in fact left us even more convinced that things don’t add up.
Another friend told NPR that Reade had shared her allegations with her in 1993, and she had encouraged Reade not to go to the police or the press for fear of retaliation.
Her brother, Collin Moulton, also says Reade told him of the encounter, and says Reade was fired from Biden’s staff. Moulton changed his story, initially telling AP and Washington Post reporters that he recalled Reade telling her that Biden had made her uncomfortable, and days later, texted the reporters to alter his story to conform with Reade’s current allegations. (In a series of now-deleted tweets, Current Affairs reporter Nathan J. Robinson apparently coached Moulton into changing his story to include the allegation that Biden’s hands went under Reade’s clothing. Robinson has written approvingly of Reade, and his Twitter feed has become devoted to ginning up support for Reade. He Is also a vocal supporter of Sanders, and a virulent Biden critic.)
Reade filed a formal complaint with the Washington, DC police on April 9, though she is aware that the statute of limitations has long since expired. The DC Police says the investigation into Reade’s complaint is “inactive.”
Reade also says she filed a complaint with the Senate’s personnel office after the alleged incident, but she has lost her copy of the complaint. Biden has asked the Senate and the National Archives to release copies of any such complaint or any related documentation; the Secretary of the Senate says the law prohibits any such release. Reade said she couldn’t remember the name of the specific office to which she filed the complaint. Reade later confirmed that the alleged complaint lacked any mention of actual sexual harassment or abuse, and claimed she was “too scared” to include that information.
She previously said she walked into a counseling office of some kind associated with the Senate, but “chickened out” and left before talking to anyone. Later, she insists she filled out some kind of “intake form” at the Senate personnel office that included her basic information and a general overview of her issue. Presumably this is the form which she later lost.
In late April, she told an NBC reporter she wasn’t sure what was in the complaint. “I filed a complaint re sexual harassment and retaliation but I am not sure what explicit words on that intake form until we all see it again,” she said in a text. “The main word I used — and I know I didn’t use ‘sexual harassment’ — I used ‘uncomfortable.’ And I remember ‘retaliation.'”
NBC’s Mike Memoli explained more about what it means for the Secretary of the Senate not to release any documents that may exist:
Reade claims she told Biden’s then-chief of staff Ted Kaufman about her complaint, as well as deputy chief of staff Dennis Toner and executive assistant Marianne Baker. She says she said Biden had harassed her but she did not mention the more serious allegations. She claims Kaufman shoved her out of the office and gave her a month to find a new job. Kaufman later told the New York Times: “I did not know her. She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her.” Toner and Baker also denied the allegations, with Baker telling the Times: “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone. I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager. These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.” Toner told NPR: “I would recall any conversation with any staff member with Senator Biden that was along the lines of sexual harassment. It’s something that would be so out of character with how you would describe Joe Biden.”
Reade told The Intercept that her mother had called Larry King in 1993 and talked about the allegations, though the caller did not identify herself or her daughter, and said only that her daughter had “problems” with the senator she worked for. She did not say anything about sexual harassment. Reade’s mother passed away several years ago, so she cannot confirm or deny that she was the caller. Reade, of course, says the caller was her mother. Conspiracy sites such as Infowars later accused CNN of removing the call from its searchable archives, but that allegation is false. A Twitter user, J.L. Hamilton, accused CNN of “actively colluding with the Biden Campaign to cover up evidence of Biden’s sexual assault,” but Hamilton’s allegations were quickly disproven and he deleted the tweet. Of course, the lie continues to make its way around the darker recesses of the Internet.
And Read’s ex-husband, Theodore Dronen, was told by Reade about Biden’s supposed harassment of her, according to a 1996 court document written by Dronen. He was contesting Reade’s request for a restraining order against him. As with other “corroborating” stories, Dronen did not witness anything himself, but merely recalls Reade telling him about her supposed experiences.
Melissa Lefko told NPR that she worked for Biden in the early 1990s in the same role as Reade, and that their position did not involve the kind of personal interactions with Biden that Reade alleges, specifically for the delivery of duffel bags and the like. Lefko said their job was primarily answering phones and performing constituent services. She doesn’t recall Reade, and that Reade’s description of the working environment in Biden’s office complex is quite different from her recollections: “The culture of the office was very professional in every way, with women in senior positions at a time when that was not the norm. When you work on the Hill, you know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. And Biden was a good guy, and I mean that wholeheartedly.”
Former federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern says he has trouble believing Reade’s account. One problem he has is with the 27-year delay between the alleged incident, whichever version you prefer, and the reporting. Stern writes: “As a lawyer and victims’ rights advocate, Reade was better equipped than most to appreciate that dramatic changes in sexual assault allegations severely undercut an accuser’s credibility – especially when the change is from an uncomfortable shoulder touch to vaginal penetration.” He notes that she now claims she wanted to come forward in April 2019, when she made the first version of her allegation to the Union, but she felt “shut down” by the reporter who wrote the story. “It is hard to believe a reporter would discourage this kind of scoop,” he writes. “Regardless, it’s also hard to accept that it took Reade 12 months to find another reporter eager to break that bombshell story. This unlikely explanation damages her credibility.” (It is also noteworthy that she told the same story to the AP and Washington Post. Did those reporters also “shut her down”?) He notes the specific denials issued by multiple Biden staffers, and the missing Senate complaint Reade says she filed. “It is odd that Reade kept a copy of her employment records but did not keep a copy of a complaint documenting criminal conduct by a man whose improprieties changed ‘the trajectory’ of her life,” Stern notes. “It’s equally odd The [New York] Times was unable to find a copy of the alleged Senate complaint.” Stern also has problems with her lack of specificity. She doesn’t remember the exact date, time or location of Biden’s alleged assault. “The first thing that comes to mind from my defense attorney perspective is that Reade’s amnesia about specifics makes it impossible for Biden to go through records and prove he could not have committed the assault, because he was somewhere else at the time,” Stern writes. He is troubled by the multiple and contradictory stories she has told about how her employment on Biden’s staff was terminated. He is baffled by her years of public support of Biden, particularly on women’s issues: “It is bizarre that Reade would publicly laud Biden for combating the very thing she would later accuse him of doing to her.” He points out how her sudden support for Sanders coincided with her about-face on her positive outlook on Biden, and notes the timing of her March 25 allegation – at the very same time Sanders was considering suspending his campaign. He points out her strange fascination with Russia. He finds the supposed call to Larry King by her mother unconvincing. Like myself, he is taken aback by the dramatic changes her story has taken over the last few years. He finds her brother’s “corrected” recollections to the Post beyond unconvincing. And, he concludes, in his experience, powerful men who do commit sexual assault do so repeatedly – like Donald Trump. He says that it is unlikely that if Biden is indeed the kind of man who would assault a woman so blatantly, that Reade would be his only target during his half-century of service.
On May 3, Reade was scheduled to record an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, but abruptly canceled the interview. Since then, she has given an interview to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, which will be aired on social media.
So, Max, What the Hell Does This Mean?
There’s a reason why I wrote this long-ass article, and it’s very simple.
If we decide not to accept that Reade’s allegations are true – and I can’t see how rational, reasonable people can believe her under any standard of “reasonable doubt” or “preponderance of evidence” – then we MUST NOT hang “alleged sexual predator,” “suspected groper,” or any other such descriptive phrase around Joe Biden’s neck.
If that’s the label that he gets to wear throughout the campaign, then he will wear it as a millstone for the entire presidential campaign, like Hillary Clinton got to drag around “those emails” while she campaigned.
I don’t know if Reade is working on behalf of Russian intelligence (the consensus among the punditry, for what it’s worth, is “probably not”) or whether she’s working to have the DNC replace Biden as the presumptive nominee with Sanders (my Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook good”). Honestly, I don’t care what her motivations are. I do not believe she is a sincerely aggrieved citizen who is doing her duty to report a sexual abuser.
I also believe that the Trump campaign is using the Reade allegations to jump-start a series of attacks on Biden designed to portray him as a serial sex offender. Christine O’Donnell got her ass handed to her within hours when she decided to serve up her niece, Eva Murry, as having Biden say something inappropriate to her when she was 14. (Short version: Biden wasn’t at the 2008 event in which he supposedly said something icky to the girl.) There are multiple videos on YouTube, Gab and other sources which, using varying degrees of Photoshop artistry, purport to depict Biden groping little girls in full view of the camera. None of these accusations and depictions have an iota of truth to them.
But neither did the Swift Boat accusations against John Kerry in 2004. Kerry’s biggest draw for Democratic voters was his ability to serve as Commander-in-Chief in a time of crisis. He had a stellar military service record. GOP operative Karl Rove and his crew decided to attack Kerry in that area, accusing Kerry of fraudulently concocting stories of bravery to obtain medals he did not earn. The stories were false, but the media seized on them, and for the remainder of the campaign, he was characterized as “Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, who is alleged to have lied about his military service…”
It’s the “pigfucker” strategy of American political campaigning dusted off and used again. (Short version: LBJ talked about leaking allegations that a political rival liked to enjoy sexual relations with pigs. Of course the allegations weren’t true, but, he reputedly said, “I want him to have to deny it.”) Trump used it in 2016 when he accused Barack Obama of “founding ISIS.” The idea was to paint Obama, and by extension his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with a foul accusation, and make them deny it on camera.
Trump wants Biden to have to deny “digitally raping” Reade, and saying nasty things to 14-year old girls, and groping children, and any other toxic and false accusations that can be ginned up. He wants Biden to continue denying one false allegation after another, up through Election Day. If that happens, then the real sexual predator may very well win another term.
So. Here’s my ask. Unless you believe Reade, don’t carry on about Biden the “suspected sex abuser” or anything like that. Democrats love to err on the side of fairness. (If you believe Reade, then that’s your choice and you do what you feel is right.) Labeling Biden is not fair, and it plays directly into Donald “Pigfucker” Trump’s hands.
And my last thought, which I think is a pretty strong rejoinder against anyone except the most rabid Trump or Sanders supporters:
Do you honestly think Michelle Obama would have let a sex offender join her husband and family in the White House?
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.