Biden Refuses to Release Senate Records that Could Shed Light on Sex Assault Claims, But His Operatives Were Sent to Look Through Them

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Biden campaign has called Tara Reade’s claim false but Joe Biden himself has not yet personally responded to the question.

That’s at least in part because the media hasn’t even asked the question of him, despite innumerable interviews with him over the past few months.

Reade alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in a Senate hallway and had previously sexually harassed her including by inappropriately touching her shoulders. Reade says that she complained to superiors on Biden’s staff about sexual harassment but was rebuffed and nothing was done. After she was allegedly sexually assaulted and spurned Biden, she says she was then removed from her position supervising interns.

Lynda LaCasse says she was told by Reade of the 1993 sexual assault in 1995/6 and Lorraine Sanchez said that Reade told her about the sexual harassment incident. Reade said she also told her mother, brother and a friend about the assault. Reade identified a call made to CNN’s Larry King show in 1993 complaining about a daughter with “problems” with “a prominent senator” as her mother.

Biden staffers, reached out to by various news organizations have denied that there was any complaint. The campaign denied the claims. In March, Katie Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director, said that “women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false.”

Reade has demanded he release his Senate records for review from the time. The papers, 1875 boxes full, are being held by the University of Delaware “until two years after he retires from public life.” But the University has refused to reveal the nature of the agreement with Biden and Biden has done nothing to comply with requests to release the papers or clear up the issue, prompting people to question why.

Now there’s more that doesn’t look good for Biden. Turns out not only is he refusing requests to release the papers, but the campaign is clearly curious about what’s in the records and dispatched operatives on at least one occasion to look through the records, according to the Business Insider.

Andrea Boyle Tippett, a spokeswoman for the University of Delaware, confirmed to Insider that individuals from the campaign have accessed the collection since Biden announced his presidential campaign in the spring of 2019. She added that the University of Delaware’s library closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus, and that no one from the Biden campaign has gone to the library since its closure.

So that the operatives accessed the records between his announcement in April 2019 and mid-March 2020, at least once.

If he’s innocent and what they claimed was true, why would he have operatives looking through the records? They claimed there were never any complaints so what is there to look for, if their claims are true? This also raises the question if operatives had access to the records if some might have “accidentally disappeared” from the collection.

[Reade] said that while she didn’t tell anyone at Biden’s office about the alleged assault, she did complain to superiors about harassment and being made to feel uncomfortable. She said she met formally and informally with several Biden aides —including his former chief of staff Ted Kaufman — about her concerns, like allegedly being told she dressed too provocatively and being asked to serve drinks at a fundraiser because Biden liked her legs. She believes notes from those discussions would be in any personnel files the archives might contain.

“Ted Kaufman took notes when I spoke with him,” Reade told Insider. “He’s now denying that we ever had the meeting, and I watched him take notes. Those notes would be in my personnel file, along with sick days or any kind of extra notes that I turn in,” she said, adding that the archives might contain documentation of what she says was an effort to force her to resign after she came forward about the alleged harassment.

Kaufman, who is helping Biden form his “transition team” (don’t you have to actually win to have one of these mean anything?), said he never met her and denied it.

“She did not call me, she did not come to me, I would remember her if she had, and I do not remember her,” he said. “Now remember, this is thirty years ago, and she was a very junior staffer from everything that other reporters have told me.”

In March, the Biden campaign released a statement from Marianne Baker, his long-time executive assistant, saying she had never come across any accusations of harassment within the office: “In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone.”

This seems highly unlikely, given the multiple women who complain that Biden touched them inappropriately over the years. Several of them came forward last year. But just one more reason we should see the records.

The records cover the period from 1973 to 2009. They were given to the University in 2011 and the agreement at the time said they would be sealed “for two years after he retires from public office.” But then, the day before Biden launched his campaign, it was changed to the later of either December 31, 2019, or when Biden “retires from public life” without defining what that meant. Tippett is now saying “two years” from that point, extending it still further. Michael Crespin, director of the Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma, which houses the archives of more than 60 former members of Congress, says he’s never seen such a revision before.

Business Insider has filed requests with the University for the agreement for holding the collection as well as the sign in sheets for anyone who may have had access to it. The University has turned turn the Washington Post’s requests for the same information.

When Democrats came out against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, they demanded his records with the George H.W. Bush White House be released despite them having nothing to do with the claim by Christine Blasey Ford, they claimed they were essential to evaluate the claim and Kavanaugh, so it’ll be interesting as to how they will spin this.

Reade says she also filed a formal complaint about the sexual harassment with a Senate office. But it’s not clear what happened to that complaint or where the records from such a compliant front that period of time might be. But it too would likely be sealed for 50 years, according to Business Insider.

The Biden campaign refused to comment when asked by Business Insider.