Biden accuser says she wants Biden to drop out of the 2020 race for president

Biden has flatly denied her assault allegation.

May 7, 2020, 8:10 PM

The woman who accused Joe Biden of assaulting her in a senate office building in 1993 offered her first public comments since the former vice president firmly denied her allegations last week, saying she wants Biden to drop out of the 2020 race for president.

“You and I were there, Joe Biden, please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for President of the United States,” Tara Reade said Thursday in a clip of an interview posted online with journalist Megyn Kelly.

“I wish he would, but he won't,” Reade said when asked if she wanted Biden to end his campaign. “I wish he would, that's how I feel emotionally.”

Reade’s allegations against Biden have emerged haltingly over the past several weeks, with heavy promotion from aides and relatives of President Trump. Thursday’s on-camera interview with Kelly marks the first time she has spoken on camera about the allegations since Biden’s denial last week.

Reade, 56, served as an entry-level Senate staff assistant in Biden’s office for a short period in 1993. She alleged in interviews with ABC News and other media outlets that Biden aides asked her to hand-deliver a gym bag to him in a Senate office building and when she did, she alleges he moved in close, pinned her against a wall, slipped his hand under her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers.

In an interview with Spectrum Bay News 9 in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, Biden reiterated his denial of Reade’s claim, calling it “flat out false.”

“Nothing ever happened with Tara Reade. Believing women means taking a woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward and then vetting it, looking into it...That’s true in this case too. Women have a right to be heard and the press should rigorously investigate claims like these. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end in every case the truth is what matters. And in this case, the truth is these claims are flat out false, false,” Biden said.

In an interview last week on MSNBC, Biden flatly denied the allegation.

"I'm saying unequivocally, it never, never happened. It didn't, it never happened," Biden said.

While Biden denied the allegation, he has also argued women should be allowed to come forward with allegations and have them thoroughly vetted.

“I don't understand it, but I'm not going to go in and question her motive. I'm not going to attack her. She has a right to say whatever she wants to say, but I have a right to say, ‘Look at the facts, check it out, find out whether any of what she says is asserted is true,’” Biden said in his interview last week.

Reade was critical of Biden’s campaign Thursday for their response to her allegation, saying there was a “measure of hypocrisy,” on their handling, given the former vice president’s comments.

“It's not been safe. All my social media has been hacked, all my personal information has been dragged through. Every person that maybe has a you know a gripe against me -- an ex-boyfriend or an ex-landlord, or whatever it is, has been able to have a platform rather than me,” Reade told Kelly, but did not expand or provide evidence of the hacking in the clip posted.

Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield also issued a new statement Thursday evening on Reade’s allegation, saying that women should be able to share their stories without having to worry about their safety, but calling into question “inconsistencies” in Reade’s claims.

“Every day, more and more inconsistencies arise. Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm - and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth. And the truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity,” Bedingfield wrote.

When pressed by Kelly if she wanted an apology from the former vice president, Reade said she thought it was “a little late.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ABC News.

ABC News spoke with several people Reade said she shared her story with, including Reade’s brother, a friend, and former neighbor of hers who recounted Reade telling them of an incident involving Biden.

Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, initially told ABC News he only heard her account of the assault this spring. But after the initial interview in late March, Moulton texted ABC News later that day to “clarify” his account, saying he remembered his sister telling him in 1993 that Biden had “more or less cornered her against the wall” and ‘put his hands ‘up her clothes.’”

While Reade said she spoke with several people in the office about the incident, multiple former staffers to Biden say that they do not remember Reade ever bringing her complaint to them.

"She did not come to me, I would have remembered if she had, and I do not remember her," Ted Kaufman, Biden's chief of staff at the time told ABC News. "I would have well remembered her if she had come to me with this."

Reade also told ABC News that she filed a written complaint following the alleged assault that Biden made her feel "uncomfortable,” but did not include the allegation of sexual assault she has since leveled against him, and that she did not retain a copy of the complaint.

Biden has requested that the Secretary of the Senate release any records that may be relevant to Reade’s alleged complaint, but the secretary’s office said last week that they are prohibited from doing so under the law that governs the handling of such records.

Reade has also retained legal representation from the law firm Wigdor LLP, according to a statement obtained by ABC News on Thursday.

The New York-based firm’s founding partner, Douglas Wigor, supported President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, but in its statement the firm pushed back on claims that their representation of Reade is politically motivated, citing Wigdor’s support for various Democratic politicians and his representation of women who brought forth claims of sexual assault against former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In the firm’s statement they point to Wigdor’s support of several Democratic politicians from the state of New York, including Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, New York Attorney General Laticia James, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“Our representation of Ms. Reade has absolutely nothing to do with politics. We have decided to take this matter on because every survivor has the right to competent counsel, and that is exactly what we will provide,” the firm’s statement released Thursday said.

ABC News' Matt Mosk contributed to this report

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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