Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Former Vice President Joe Biden called on the National Archives Friday to release any record of a sexual harassment complaint made against him by former aide Tara Reade, who says he sexually assaulted her in 1993. At the same time, Biden declined once again to open up his Senate papers, housed at the University of Delaware, saying that they wouldn’t contain any information related to Reade’s allegations.
“There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified,” Biden said in a Friday press release. “The former staffer has said she filed a complaint in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint.”
“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be: the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices,” Biden continued.
“I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
Reade has said that she filed a complaint about sexual harassment in Biden’s office but “did not complain formally” about the alleged assault. Before making the sexual assault allegation in March, Reade was one of several women who came forward last year to accuse Biden of sexual harassment.
“I talked about what was witnessed, and the general atmosphere of the office, the way I was treated,” Reade told podcast host Katie Halper in March. “Because I would see him at meetings and he would basically put his hands on me, put his hands on my shoulder, run his fingers on my neck… He was very hands-y with a lot of people. But like I have said in the press before, it made me feel like an inanimate object.”
In a Friday-morning interview on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ co-anchor Mika Brzezinski repeatedly pressed Biden about his Senate papers, which he gave to the University of Delaware. Biden denied that any information about the alleged complaint would be in those papers and suggested that what is in the records could be used as “campaign fodder.”
“There’s a lot of speeches I’ve made, positions I’ve taken, interviews that I did overseas, all of those things related to my job,” Biden says of the content of his collection. “And the idea that [his Senate papers] would all be made public in fact while I was running for public office, they could be really taken out of context.”
The University of Delaware said Thursday that it’s still curating Biden’s papers, a process that isn’t expected to be completed until 2021, and won’t release them until two years after Biden retires from public life.
“The National Archives is the only place there would be anything having to do with personnel records,” Biden reiterated on Friday morning. “There are no personnel records in the Biden papers at the university.”
When asked why he wouldn’t approve a search of Reade’s name in the university’s records, Biden repeated that “they aren’t there. I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make.”
“The material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files, but it does have a lot of confidential conversations… that that would not be something that would not be revealed while I was in public office or seeking public office,” Biden said.
“I’m just talking about her name, not anybody else,” Brzezinski said. “Why not do a search for Tara Reade’s name?"
“Who does that search?” Biden asked. Brzezinski suggested the university itself, or a commission. “Look, Mika,” Biden replied, “she said she filed a report, she has her employment records still… if the report was ever filed, it was filed there. Period.”
Cover: In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus in Wilmington, Del. Biden has won Wyoming's Democratic presidential caucus. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)