Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who alleges Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, has said she filed a limited report with a congressional personnel office that did not explicitly accuse him of sexual assault or harassment.
“I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable,” Reade said. “I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.”
Reade said she described her issues with Biden, then a senator from Delaware, but “the main word I used – and I know I didn’t use sexual harassment – I used ‘uncomfortable’. And I remember ‘retaliation’.”
Reade described the report after the AP discovered transcripts and notes from interviews with Reade last year in which she said she “chickened out” after going to the Senate personnel office.
The AP interviewed Reade in 2019 after she accused Biden of uncomfortable and inappropriate touching. She did not raise allegations of sexual assault against Biden until this year, around the time he became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
The existence of the Senate report has become a key element of the accusations against Biden, which he has flatly denied. Reade says she doesn’t have a copy of the report, and Biden said on Friday he was not aware any complaint against him existed. He asked the Senate and the National Archives to locate a complaint from Reade.
Reade is suggesting that even if the report surfaces, it would not corroborate her assault allegations because she chose not to detail them at the time.
According to a transcript of her 2019 interview, Reade said: “They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in there once, but then I chickened out.”
She made a similar statement in a second interview the same day, according to written notes.
On Friday, Reade said she was referring to having “chickened out” by not filing full harassment or assault allegations. In multiple interviews, she insisted she filed an “intake form” at the Senate personnel office, which included her contact information, the office she worked for and some broad details of her issues with Biden.
Reade was one of eight women who came forward last year with allegations that Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate displays of affection. Biden promised to be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future”.
During one of the April 2019 interviews with the AP, Reade said Biden rubbed her shoulders and neck and played with her hair. She said she was asked by an aide in Biden’s Senate office to dress more conservatively and told: “Don’t be so sexy.”
She said of Biden: “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.”
The AP reviewed notes of its 2019 interviews after Reade came forward in March with allegations of sexual assault. Reporters discovered an additional transcript and notes on Friday.
A recording of one interview was deleted before Reade emerged in 2020, in keeping with the reporter’s standard practice. A portion of that interview was also recorded on video, but not the part in which she spoke of having “chickened out”.
The AP declined to publish details of the 2019 interviews at the time because reporters were unable to corroborate Reade’s allegations, and aspects of her story contradicted other reporting.
In recent weeks, Reade told news organizations Biden sexually assaulted her, pushing her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in 1993, groping her and penetrating her with his fingers. She says she was fired after filing a complaint with the Senate, alleging harassment.
The accusation has roiled Biden’s campaign. Republicans have accused Biden backers of hypocrisy, arguing that they have been quick to believe women who have accused Donald Trump and other conservatives of assault. Trump has faced multiple accusations of assault and harassment, all of which he denies.
Reade says she was reluctant to share details of the assault during initial conversations with reporters because she was scared of backlash and was still coming to terms with what happened.
Two of Reade’s associates said publicly this week that Reade had conversations with them that they said corroborated aspects of her allegation. One, a former neighbor, said Reade told her about the alleged assault a few years after Reade said it happened. The other, a former coworker, said Reade told her she had been sexually harassed by her boss in Washington.
The AP has spoken to two additional people, who spoke on condition of anonymity and who said Reade had told them about aspects of her allegations years ago.
One friend, who knew Reade in 1993, said Reade told them about the alleged assault when it happened. The second friend met Reade more than a decade after the alleged incident and confirmed that Reade had a conversation with the friend in 2007 or 2008 about experiencing sexual harassment from Biden while working in his Senate office.