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Biden accuser Tara Reade gives first on-camera interview

WASHINGTON — The woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her decades ago repeated her allegation Thursday, in her first on-camera interview since the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unequivocally denied her claim last week.

“I want to say, ‘You and I were there, Joe Biden,’” Reade said in her interview with journalist Megyn Kelly, who released a portion of it on social media. “‘Please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.’”

Reade’s allegation remains a simmering political problem for Biden in the #MeToo era. Yet she offered no new corroboration in initial clips of her exchange with Kelly. Reade has struggled to reconcile inconsistencies in her story, and produced no records to substantiate her claim that she complained to Senate officials at the time.

Reade was a staffer in Biden’s Senate office in 1993 when, she says, he cornered her in a basement hallway and inserted his fingers inside her.

Biden has adamantly denied Reade’s story, and no available records have emerged from the time substantiating Reade’s claims. Two people with whom Reade said she confided after the alleged incident have shifted their stories about what she told them.

But the accuser’s reemergence Thursday suggested that she plans to continue pursuing her allegation against the former vice president. Reade also retained as counsel the law firm of Wigdor LLP, which represented several of the women who accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.

“Her harrowing account is credible and supported by numerous ‘outcry’ witnesses from decades ago,” said a statement from attorney Douglas Wigdor. “We will help Ms. Reade be heard.”

Reade earlier canceled a television interview with Fox News planned to air last Sunday, citing concerns for her personal safety. During the Kelly interview, Reade talked about threats she said she had received after going public with her charge.

Republican efforts to use the Reade allegations against Biden are complicated by the substantially more extensive sexual assault allegations against President Donald Trump. Also, Trump recently seemed to sympathize with Biden, saying they each had experience now with “false” allegations. He has been accused by more than a dozen women in incidents spanning many years, all of which he has denied.

Reade first publicly made her allegation against Biden in late March in an interview with a progressive-oriented podcaster. Major media organizations investigated her claims and did not find conclusive evidence to substantiate or refute them.

Biden disputes Reade’s claim that she complained about his behavior to her supervisor and senior staffers in his office. None of them have corroborated her story.

He also disputes that Reade filed any formal complaint to a Senate personnel office, which she said she did. Biden has asked Senate officials to search through archives and disclose any record of a complaint by Reade.

The secretary of the Senate told the Biden campaign that confidentiality laws would prevent disclosure of any such document. The Biden campaign says it is trying to work with Senate officials and Reade to waive the confidentiality rules if any complaint is found.

©2020 Los Angeles Times

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