The Drama Between Joe Biden & His Ex-Staffer Tara Reade, Explained

The following article contains allegations of sexual assault.

In April 2019, right as Joe Biden was ready to throw his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential election, he was accused of having a shady side. A woman by the name of Tara Reade came forward claiming there were a lot of things we didn't know about Joe Biden. She accused the former senator of inappropriately touching her while she worked as his staff assistant in 1993. "He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck," she claimed during an interview with The Union. "I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that."

In March 2020, Reade took the claims even further, alleging that Biden had actually sexually assaulted her. During an appearance on the podcast, "The Katie Halper Show," she recounted an instance where he purportedly penetrated her with his fingers. "It happened all at once," she recalled. "His hands were on me and underneath my clothes."

Biden immediately denied Reade's sexual assault allegations. "Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women," Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement (via the New York Times). "What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen." Since then, the drama between Biden and Reade has only heightened.

Joe Biden demanded receipts

On May 1, 2020, Joe Biden opted to address the Tara Reade accusations himself. "No, it is not true. I'm saying unequivocally it never, never happened. And it didn't. It never happened," he boldly declared during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." But he didn't stop there. In an official campaign statement, Biden doubled down by requesting that the National Archives get involved and provide a record of the report that Reade claimed that she had filed against him.

Unfortunately for Biden, the secretary of the senate rebuffed his request, citing that she did not possess the authority to do so. Meanwhile, Reade conducted an interview with the Associated Press where she claimed that the report she filed did not disclose accusations of sexual assault, but only harassment. "I was too scared to write about the sexual assault," she said. "I talked about sexual harassment, retaliation. The main word I used — and I know I didn't use sexual harassment — I used 'uncomfortable.' And I remember 'retaliation,'" she maintained.

In the end, Reade's accusations fell out of the headlines as conflicting accounts emerged, and Biden went on to win the 2020 election. Reade would later hightail it to Russia in May 2023. She told Sputnik that she made the decision to relocate due to safety concerns. "I just didn't want to walk home and walk into a cage or be killed, which is basically my two choices," she said. 

Tara Reade sued the FBI for alleged misconduct

Tara Reade's accusations against Joe Biden didn't go away after the 2020 election. On January 31, 2024, Reade filed a tort alleging that the United States Department of Justice had engaged in misconduct. According to the lawsuit, obtained by Fox News, Reade is seeking $10 million in damages due to "infliction of emotional distress and anxiety," at the hands of the FBI due to their investigation into her claims against Joe Biden. But that's not all. The tort also alleged that Reade's Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

In December 2023, Reade appeared on "Redacted" and told host Natali Morris that she had been granted asylum in Russia and discussed her plans to sue the DOJ. "My attorneys approached me and said, look, there were several statutes in several states that they violated your privacy," she revealed. "So this is the first step in this complaint. It's a complaint filed with the Inspector General in the DOJ about the FBI to look at their tactics and what they were doing to me." As of May 2024, neither President Biden nor the DOJ responded to the complaint, and the drama with Reade is still going. Her allegations remain one of the more controversial moments in Joe Biden's political career.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).