Last year, Reade encouraged me to speak with a friend of hers who counseled her through her time in Biden’s office in 1992 and 1993. The friend was clear about what had happened, and what hadn’t.

“On the scale of other things we heard, and I feel ashamed, but it wasn’t that bad. [Biden] never tried to kiss her directly. He never went for one of those touches. It was one of those, ‘sorry you took it that way.’ I know that is very hard to explain,” the friend told me. She went on: “What was creepy was that it was always in front of people.”…

I spoke with Reade’s friend again this week. She said that Reade had told her about the alleged assault the week it happened in 1993. I asked the friend why, then, did she volunteer so explicitly that Biden “never tried to kiss her” or touch her inappropriately. “It just organically rolled out that way,” the friend said. “[Reade] and I had many conversations a year ago about what her degree of comfort was. She wanted to leave a layer there, and I did not want to betray that. It just wasn’t my place.”