Election 2020 Politics

New reporting puts focus on Tara Reade’s inconsistencies

The Washington Post learned on Friday that Reade is no longer a client of the law firm that had been representing her. Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile #MeToo lawyer, did not give a reason for dropping her case, though he made a point of saying in a statement that the decision is “by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade.

So what has recent reporting uncovered about Reade and her story that’s pertinent to her allegation against Biden? Let’s review.

On the allegation

PBS NewsHour interviewed 74 former Biden staffers, most of them women, who said Biden was respectful to them. He was not on a list of “creepy” senators young women were told to avoid. Reade had alleged that the assault took place in an alcove in a Senate building, but PBS found no semiprivate places along the route where Reade says the incident took place. That area would have been public and busy, so staffers they talked to said it would have been a brazen attack.

The Associated Press reports that one of Reade’s key corroborators, an anonymous friend who worked in the U.S. Senate with Reade and described vomiting upon hearing the accusation, did not initially mention it in an interview last year. The AP writes that this friend “confirmed Reade’s original, limited account of harassment by Biden. When Reade added assault to her allegation in March of this year, this friend also added those details to her own recollection.”

The Post earlier reported that Reade’s brother had updated his corroboration: He initially told The Post he heard a different story that did not involve sexual assault and days later texted to say Reade told him Biden had cornered her and put his hands under her clothes.

On her time in Biden’s office

Reade has said she heard she was asked to serve drinks at a reception for Biden because Biden liked her legs. Former staffers told PBS NewsHour that would not have happened. The staffers said that would have inappropriately mixed official staff with campaign duties, and two staffers said Biden made a point of asking men to bring coffee, because he didn’t like the look of asking young female staffers to do it.

Reade has given various reasons for her departure from Biden’s office to reporters. She recently has been saying was urged to quit in retaliation for the sexual assault. Supervisors in Biden’s office at the time all have denied receiving any such complaints about Biden.

A colleague who worked closely with Reade at the time, Ben Savage, said he was under the impression Reade lost her job for poor performance, specifically in connection with sorting mail. Savage told The Post that Reade departed soon after he had complained to superiors about her work. Savage also told The Washington Post that Reade just didn’t seem to fit into office culture, saying she was confronted for clothing choices by her supervisors. Savage told CNN that when Reade finally was let go, she said she thought she was being unfairly pushed out over a medical issue.

On Reade’s past

The AP looked into Reade’s childhood. She has consistently said she was abused by her father. Her stepbrother questioned Reade’s assertion that her father physically abused her, and Reade’s writing that she was a standout skier who qualified for the Junior Olympics.

CNN and the AP reported on Reade’s troubled relationship at the time she worked her Biden. She eventually divorced her husband from that time, and she alleges he was abusive. In court records, the husband acknowledged one instance of violence against Reade but denied others and alleged she was conflating her past issues of abuse with their marriage. In court records, he did say “she related a problem that she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Sen. Joe Biden’s office.” The document does not mention Biden specifically as the harasser nor mention sexual assault.

Reade got a temporary restraining order against her ex-husband and changed her name to Alexandra McCabe. She claims to have then graduated from Antioch University under a “protected program” and become a visiting professor. The university denied all of this to CNN: It said there never was such a program for domestic violence victims, that she never graduated, nor was she a faculty member. She provided “several hours of administrative work,” it said.

Politico reported that later in Reade’s life, she “left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in California’s Central Coast region who say they remember two things about her — she spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.” Many of the stories were specifically related to rent payments, as Reade, then a single mother who said she was on the run from domestic violence, often struggled for money.

Finally, for nearly a decade in California, Reade worked as an expert on domestic violence whose testimony was used in the courtroom prosecutions. The New York Times reports that, as a result of questions about Reade’s education, public defenders in California have started reviewing cases where Reade’s involvement helped lead to a conviction, concerned she did not have the expertise that she claimed to have.

A poll in early May by Monmouth University shows that Americans are split on who to believe, Reade or Biden. That was taken before the steady drip of reporting has raised questions about Reade’s credibility.

Matt Viser contributed to this report.

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