On Thursday, Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who has accused presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden of sexual assault in 1993, responded to Biden’s denials in an interview with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. During that interview, Reade asked the presumptive nominee to drop out of the presidential race and she dared him to take a polygraph test to back up his denials.
Kelly asked Reade what she would say to Biden if he were in the room with them.
“I want to say, ‘You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please, step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for president of the United States,'” Reade declared.
“You want him to withdraw?” Kelly asked.
“I wish he would, but he won’t. But I wish he would,” the accuser replied.
“Do you want an apology?” Kelly asked.
Reade responded, “I think it’s a little late.”
Kelly noted that while Biden has denied the accusations, he did insist that “accusers should start off with the presumption that they are telling the truth. Do you think he’s afforded you that presumption?”
“No,” Reade replied, flatly. “I mean, it’s been stunning actually how some of his surrogates … have been saying really horrible things about me and to me on social media. He hasn’t himself but there’s a measure of hypocrisy with the campaign saying it’s safe. It’s not safe.”
The accuser related facing a great deal of backlash on social media and in the press. “All my social media’s been hacked, all my personal information has been dragged through. Every person that maybe has a gripe against me, … has been able to have a platform rather than me,” she said. “Even with the whole thing with being called a Russian agent, that in particular. That incites people. I got a death threat for that because they thought I was being a traitor to America.”
The accuser said that while she believes women like Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault — she insisted that “there needs to be a conversation rather than a hashtag.”
Kelly asked her, “Does Joe Biden get due process? Does he get the chance to vet these claims and defend himself, is that okay?”
“I think he’s been doing that. He’s had a chance for more platforms that I did,” Reade responded.
Kelly noted that Ford went under oath and submitted herself to cross-examination. Biden’s accuser said she would “absolutely” do both of those things.
But when Kelly pointed out that Ford had taken a polygraph test and asked Reade if she would do the same, Biden’s accuser said she would only submit to such a test if Joe Biden did.
“They also point out that she took a polygraph controlled by someone on her team. Is that something you want to do?” Kelly asked.
“I’m not a criminal,” Reade shot back. “Joe Biden should take the polygraph. What kind of precedent does that set for survivors of violence? Does that mean we’re presumed guilty and we all have to take polygraphs? So I will take one if Joe Biden takes one. But I’m not a criminal.”
Reade’s comment that Biden should not be “running on character” echoed Andrea Powell, a leader in the campaign against human trafficking across the world and founding president of the nonprofit Karana Rising.
“We deserve to have a president that does not assault women and who takes such claims seriously because sexual assault is a violent crime. If you cannot address one woman with integrity, can you run a country with it? Tara Reade deserves a real response,” Powell said.
Biden has been running a “return to normalcy” campaign, particularly on issues of character. He has presented himself as the candidate who can “restore the soul of America,” the morally upstanding alternative to Trump. Yet Reade’s accusation shows that despite Biden’s moral preening, he faces sexual assault claims just like the president has.
When Reade came forward, Trump encouraged Biden to defend himself, just as Trump himself has done. Indeed, he said, “So I guess in a way you could say I’m, I’m sticking up for him.”
As Dilbert creator Scott Adams explained, “The president is using as a kill-shot that his opponent is just like him. Do you understand how sublime that is? Because there’s only one person in the race who can survive being just like Trump, and it’s not Joe Biden.”
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) May 7, 2020
MK EXCLUSIVE: Will Tara Reade go under oath or take a polygraph? pic.twitter.com/aBXohhg14n
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) May 7, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.