Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, said that the former vice president “should not be running on character” and that she thought he should withdraw as the Democratic presidential candidate.
In an interview with Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News and NBC television host, Reade said she wanted Biden to “step forward and be held accountable” and that it was too late for him to apologize to her.
Reade also told Kelly that she would make her allegation under oath and would be willing to face cross-examination. When asked if she would take a polygraph test, she said: “I will take one if Joe Biden takes one. But I’m not a criminal.”
Asked what she would say to him if he were watching the interview, she said: “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 the president of the United States.’ ”
When Kelly asked her if Biden should withdraw from the race, she said: “I wish he would. But he won’t, but I wish he would.” The interview was conducted Wednesday, and Kelly posted excerpts on Twitter today.
Reade has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she worked in his Senate office. She says he pushed her up against the wall in a Senate hallway and penetrated her digitally.
Biden has forcefully denied the allegation. “It is not true,” Biden said in an interview on MSNBC last week. “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.” A number of prominent Democratic women, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, have said that they stand by Biden.
In a statement this evening, Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager, repeated previous assertions that the allegation was false and cited news articles that she said showed inconsistencies in Reade’s account. “The truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity,” she said.
The interview was Reade’s first on-camera interview since Biden denied her allegation last Friday.
Rich McHugh, a journalist who has written about Reade’s allegation for Business Insider and produced the interview, said that Reade had reached out to Kelly and asked Kelly to interview her. Kelly, he said, asked him to produce it.
The interview aired a short time after Douglas Wigdor, a prominent sexual harassment attorney, said today that his firm was now representing Reade.
Wigdor told The New York Times that his firm was “advising Tara on a number of different things, but at this time I am not at liberty to share.”
He said his role would involve legal representation but added: “Of course public relations seems to go hand in hand with the legal advice we provide, especially on something like this.”
In her interview with Kelly, Reade addressed one of the most heated lines of criticism about her: that she is a Russian agent, an allegation arising from Medium posts and tweets she had once written praising President Vladimir Putin. She said that had “nothing to do with 1993.”
“That incites people,” she said. “I got a death threat from that because they thought I was being a traitor to America.”
She said she felt unsafe after coming forward with her allegation and that her social media accounts had been hacked.
“His campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely,” she said. “I have not experienced that.”