Flat-out denial was always Joe Biden’s only politically viable response. The curiosity is what took him so long to get around to it. Prior to a much-heralded appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to address Tara Reade’s allegation of sexual assault, Biden issued a statement declaring that the accusations “aren’t true” and that “this never happened.”
Biden also scolded news organizations for, well … adopting the Biden standard:
In statement, Biden denies sexual assault allegation and says his papers at the University of Delaware don’t include any such record. Said accuser’s story has been inconsistent. “This never happened.” pic.twitter.com/ifFZ6nJV1m
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 1, 2020
Note the haughty tone toward media outlets in Biden’s third paragraph, in which he advises that “responsible news organizations” would scrutinize such claims. Most of them have, in fact, but that’s not what Biden said when Brett Kavanaugh was getting crucified:
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.”
Bear in mind too that Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Kavanaugh was far more ambiguous, with no date, place, or time, and accompanied by denials from the very people she cited as fact witnesses in her statement. At that time, Biden demanded that people presume that the “essence” of Blasey Ford’s allegation — or any woman’s — was “real” anyway. In this statement, Biden suddenly wants a whole other process, one in which women’s “stories” get “appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”
What should we call this process? Maybe, oh, perhaps, due process? Of the type Kavanaugh and his defenders demanded in September and October of 2018 and ever since, for that matter? That’s not what Biden wanted at that time, and it’s not what his womens’ rights activists want to this day.
One other point comes up in this statement — Biden’s papers. Reade wanted them opened to find her original complaint to Biden’s leadership team at the time of the alleged assault. “The papers from my Senate years,” Biden declares in his statement, “do not contain personnel files.” Instead, Biden says, any such complaint should be stored in the National Archives and is calling for them to “make available to the press any such document.” Senate and House offices do not have the same requirement as presidents to retain such records, however, and usually only contain records from official Senate proceedings and committees. The Office of Fair Employment Practices might not be covered by that, and it’s a pretty fair bet that Biden’s office wouldn’t have sent any such complaint on its own to anywhere else. Either Biden knows his papers are a dry hole for investigators, or he’s attempting a clever misdirection.
This still leaves us with nothing more than a Biden denial, with Reade and several contemporaneous indirect corroborating witnesses. The length of the time it took to get this denial makes Biden’s credibility suspect, but in the end we still don’t know. Maybe some of that due process could help — starting with subpoenas.