Even apart from its connection to the Tara Reade allegation, this contradiction from Joe Biden should prompt plenty of headscratching. In his contentious interview with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Biden refused to offer up access to his official papers at the University of Delaware — for any purpose, including a search limited to only Reade.
Other than the fact that you can’t read the pages, Biden says, he’s an “open book” (transcript via MSNBC):
BRZEZINSKI: “The New York Times” has investigated this exhaustively. They didn’t find any of your former staff members were able to corroborate the details of this allegation. She did file a police report a few weeks ago with the D.C. Police, but since you want to set the record straight, why limit this only to Tara Reade? Why not release any complaints that had may — had been made against you during your Senate career?
BIDEN: I’m prepared to do that. To the best of my knowledge, there’s been no complaints made against me in terms of my Senate career, in terms of my office and anything that has been run (ph). Look, this is an open book. There’s nothing for me to hide. Nothing at all.
“Open book” is apparently a term of art. When Brzezinski presses Biden on access to the papers that have come from almost 50 years of public office — the very experience on which Biden is campaigning — he refuses. Allowing the media to access his papers would create “campaign fodder” for Trump, Biden declares:
Full exchange on Biden saying he won't release his Senate records at the Univ. of Delaware —
"The idea that they would be made public while I was running for public office, they could be taken out of context … they could be fodder." pic.twitter.com/tUOGBBttOd
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 1, 2020
BRZEZINSKI: The first is about your University of Delaware records. Do you agree with the reporting that those records were supposed to be revealed to the public and then they were resealed for a longer period of time until after you leave “public life”? And if you agree with that, if that’s what happened, why did that happen?
BIDEN: Because — look, the fact is that there’s a lot of things that — of speeches I have made, positions I have taken, interviews that I did overseas with people, all of those things relating to my job. And the idea that they would all be made public and the fact while I was running for a public office they could be really taken out of context.
The papers are position papers. They are documents that existed and that when I — for example when I go — when I met with Putin or when I met with whomever. And all of that to be fodder in a campaign at this time I don’t know of anybody who’s done anything like that.
Put the Reade issue aside for a moment. Why does Biden need to hide his “position papers”? Why wouldn’t Biden want us to see what he said to Putin? His fellow Democrats have spent the last three years demanding the transcripts of conversations between Trump and world leaders like Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, for instance, and have sued to get access to them. The double standard on “Believe All Women” isn’t the only hypocrisy on display in this interview.
Bear in mind that these aren’t Biden’s personal papers, like diaries, a distinction Biden makes himself. They’re not tax or private-business records either, like Democrats have also been demanding of Trump for four-plus years. These are records of his actions and positions while serving in the US Senate, a public office, while he runs for the highest public office we have. We should already have access to these records as a matter of public record, seeing as how we paid for them over the 38-year course of Biden’s Senate tenure.
It’s not as if Biden can’t grant the access, either. The Washington Post made that clear last July, when his records became an issue in the primaries over his part in the Clarence Thomas hearings:
Starting in 2011 and for years after, the university had described the terms of the agreement as keeping the papers sealed “for two years after Biden retires from public office.” But this year, on the day before Biden announced his presidential campaign, the university changed the way that it described those terms.
Instead of citing his departure from “public office,” the university said the documents would not be made public until two years after Biden “retires from public life” or after Dec. 31, 2019, whichever is later. It did not define what is considered “public life.”
“The entire collection is unavailable,” said Andrea Boyle Tippett, a spokeswoman for the University of Delaware. “Its contents will become available, as the website indicates, when Mr. Biden retires from public life.”
“As he is currently running for office, he is in public life,” she said. “Since retirement for anyone, not just public figures, takes different forms, I can’t speculate beyond that.”
The university denied public records requests for copies of the initial agreement that Biden signed, as well as any changes to it or correspondence about it.
Biden lied about being an “open book.” He’s trying his best to keep the book closed, even though it directly relates to his public service and to his campaign to return to office. It’s not the only lie Biden’s telling these days, either, which calls his credibility into serious question not just on Tara Reade’s allegation but on a wide variety of topics, including his own capabilities to handle the job.