“You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please take a step forward and hold yourself accountable. And if you think you can deal with this in a real way, then you know and I know you should step down,” said Reade, in her first interview on camera since Biden personally denied his accusation last week. “You shouldn’t run into the character of the President of the United States.”
Reade made comments to former Fox News and NBC anchor Megyn Kelly in an interview released on Friday. CNN spoke to Reade on the phone several times about his accusation. Reade canceled an interview on CNN’s camera last weekend.
Reade accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was aide in her office at the time of the Senate. He told CNN, and reiterated in the interview with Kelly, that in a corridor on Capitol Hill, Biden had pushed her against a wall and had forced her fingers inside her.
“It never happened, it never happened. It never happened,” Biden said on MSNBC last week.
He said that while he didn’t want to question Reade’s motives, “I don’t know why he’s saying it. I don’t know why after 27 years, this is suddenly raised. I don’t understand.”
Asked if he would be under oath and cross-examined, Reade said that in the interview with Kelly he would. If he would do a polygraph test, Reade said he would do one even if Biden did the same. “I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph,” he said.
Last year, Reade was among several women who accused Biden of physical interactions that made her feel uncomfortable. None of them, including Reade, at the time accused Biden of sexual violence.
A 1996 divorce document, obtained from CNN, shows that Reade’s ex-husband, Ted Dronen, declared under penalty of perjury that when he was attending Reade in Washington, DC, in the spring of 1993, he confided to him “a problem that she he was working on sexual harassment in the office of American Senator Joe Biden. “
“It was obvious that this event had had a very traumatic effect on” Reade “and that today it is still sensitive and influenced by it,” Dronen said in the document.
The document is the first written evidence that appears to confirm that Reade has told someone close to her about the problems she was having in Biden’s office at the time. It describes a problem of sexual harassment, not aggression. It also does not specify who was allegedly harassing her.
Reade said she had verbally complained to three supervisors of the alleged sexual harassment at the time. All three told CNN and the other media that they had never received such a verbal complaint from Reade and were also unaware of anyone’s reports of sexual harassment against Biden in the years they worked with him.
In the divorce document, Dronen states that Reade told him “he eventually made a deal with the chief of staff from the senator’s office and left his position.”
Dronen did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. The Biden campaign did not comment on the divorce document. On the specific claim that Reade had made an agreement with Biden’s then chief of staff, the campaign indicated what Ted Kaufman had previously told CNN.
Kaufman said he doesn’t remember Reade and that no complaints about sexual harassment have ever been brought to his attention in all the years he has worked with Biden.
“It didn’t come to me. If I remembered it, I would have remembered it, and I don’t remember it,” Kaufman said. “I’ll definitely remember why nothing like this has ever happened in the 50 years I was associated with the senator.”
Biden helper: “More and more inconsistencies arise”
In a Thursday night statement, Biden’s deputy campaign director, Kate Bedingfield, said that as the days go by, “more and more inconsistencies arise” in Reade’s allegations. Bedingfield specifically pointed out the statements Reade and an unnamed friend made last year.
“Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to step forward and share their stories without fear of punishment or harm – and we all have a responsibility to ensure it,” said Bedingfield. “At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth. And the truth is that these accusations are false and that the material that has been presented to support them, under control, continues to prove their falsity.”
The Associated Press reported that Reade reported the publication last year when he accused Biden of only sexual harassment: “I wasn’t afraid of him, that he would take me to a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibration. “
Reached the phone on Friday, the same friend, who CNN first interviewed last month, confirmed that she made the comment to Vox last year and that she had been faithful to her previous statement.
“What I said a year ago was completely valid,” said the friend. “Did he try to kiss her at staff meetings? No. Did he rub her neck? Sure. Did he turn his hair around his finger? Sure.”
Asked Kelly on Thursday why she had previously praised Biden on social media as a few years ago, Reade said she had long felt “in conflict” with the former vice president.
“I didn’t want to speak ill of him, and I wasn’t ready to tell my story with Joe Biden at that point,” said Reade.
Reade’s new lawyer
Reade’s new interview came on the same day that Douglas Wigdor, a prominent lawyer for harassment and sexual assault, announced that his firm represented Reade. Wigdor represented Harvey Weinstein’s accusers and was a vocal supporter of Christine Blasey Ford when she accused Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Wigdor told CNN in an interview Thursday that Reade was not currently paying for his law firm and that “at the moment, I don’t expect to ever get paid for anything.”
Wigdor supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. FEC records reviewed by CNN show that he donated over $ 54,000 to Trump’s campaign, Trump Victory – a joint fundraising committee – and the Republican National Committee during that cycle. Wigdor did not donate this cycle to Trump or Biden and in the past he also donated to Democrats.
On Thursday, Wigdor insisted that his support for Trump in the past has “absolutely no impact” on why his company decided to hire Reade as a customer. He also said that the question of whether he still remains a Trump supporter is “complicated” and that he has not made a decision as to who he will support in this year’s election.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.
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