Former Obama adviser David Axelrod came to Joe Biden’s defense on Saturday in a piece for CNN arguing that Team Obama fully vetted Biden in 2008, and Tara Reade’s allegation never came up.
Axelrod hasn’t always been kind to Biden, but he presented him as the top candidate for Obama’s running mate from the beginning. “Dozens of women and men under consideration were reviewed,” Axelrod explained. “Those who rose on the list of contenders were subject to a deep-dive investigation of their strengths, vulnerabilities and, of course, any disqualifying defects.”
“At the top of the list of those contenders was Senator Joseph R. Biden of Delaware,” Axelrod added.
While Axelrod was not on the vetting team himself, as a senior strategist for the campaign, he was briefed on their progress.
According to Axelrod, “The comprehensive vet certainly would have turned up any formal complaints filed against Biden during his 36-year career in the Senate. It did not. The team would have investigated any salacious rumors of the sort that travel far and wide in Washington. There were none.”
“Through that entire process, the name Tara Reade never came up. No formal complaint. No informal chatter. Certainly, no intimation of sexual harassment or assault from her or anyone else. The team of investigators, expert in their work, would not have missed it.”
I was left wondering, was Axelrod playing defense for Biden, or for Team Obama?
Either way, Axelrod’s insistence that any record or inkling of impropriety by Joe Biden would have been turned up by Obama’s vetting team is certainly enough to give Biden supporters a sigh of relief, thinking he delivered the silver bullet to Reade’s accusations. Of course! Biden was thoroughly vetted by the Obama campaign before he was picked as his running mate! If he survived that vetting, Reade’s accusation must not be true because they’d have caught everything!
Could they really have caught everything?
The day after Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate, The Washington Post reported that Biden’s son Hunter (remember him) and brother James were “accused in two lawsuits of defrauding a former business partner and an investor of millions of dollars in a hedge fund deal that went sour.” Maybe Obama’s vetting team saw that coming and were convinced it wasn’t a big deal. But the vetting process also didn’t catch how certain members of Joe Biden’s family got rich during his time in the Senate. Between his son Hunter, his brother James, and his sister Valerie, there was a lot of money made in that family thanks to his career in the Senate that must have looked shady to a VP vetting team, had they uncovered it. Immediately after picking Biden, the Obama team was forced to defend Hunter receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from MBNA while Joe was advocating for the credit card industry in the U.S. Senate. Weren’t these the same kinds of “vulnerabilities” and “disqualifying defects” the vetting team was after? Using his position to enrich his family must have been a red flag, right?
Axelrod has a vested interest in Biden’s success right now, but clearly the vetting process wasn’t flawless. “Had any credible issue been raised, you can be sure Biden would not have been the nominee. Obama would not have tolerated it,” explained Axelrod.
Obama seems to have tolerated other credible issues with Biden. And I haven’t even brought up the plagiarism yet.
By the way, Biden was accused of plagiarism in law school, and again during his 1998 presidential campaign, and that accusation forced him to drop out. Barack Obama had his own plagiarism issues, having used portions of Deval Patrick’s speeches in his own stump speeches. Did they think picking Biden wasn’t gonna add a little fuel to that fire?
In short, Axelrod’s endorsement of the thoroughness of the vetting of Joe Biden doesn’t hold up.
But there’s another reason why Tara Reade’s 1993 complaint, if she did make it, may never turn up.
Reade maintains that she was fired after filing her complaint against Joe Biden for sexual harassment. If this is true, this tells us a lot about the culture of Biden’s Senate office in 1993. At this point, he was a powerful senator who had certainly managed to fill his office with loyalists who would go to great lengths to protect him. So, would the same office of loyalists actually file her complaint after firing her, leaving it there for it to be discovered at some later date?
Could anyone actually believe this?
Further, are we really expected to believe that Biden only started acting inappropriately with women once he became Obama’s running mate and then vice president? The only reason we have so much documentation of him acting inappropriately with women from 2008 forward is that as vice president he was photographed a lot more than he was as a senator. So, is the fact that Obama’s vice-presidential vetting team didn’t find anything about Biden acting inappropriately with Reade or anyone else because it didn’t happen, or because Biden’s loyalists knew how to cover it up?
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis