A conversation with Biden’s alleged victim, Tara Reade


When Tara Reade’s allegations about Joe Biden sexually assaulting her first surfaced during the last presidential election, her description of an angry, power-driven misogynist didn’t seem to fit the picture of the dull, gaffing politician most of us were familiar with. 

But 21 months into his presidency, and in the wake of a national address that characterized President Donald Trump and his supporters as a “threat to the country,” a much darker and divisive Joe Biden has emerged—a figure obsessed with his predecessor, determined to project power, intimidation and absolute authority. 

That picture, however, is the Joe Biden Ms. Reade has known since she says he pinned her against a cold Senate wall in the spring of 1993, kissed her neck and hair while sliding his hand up her blouse, and used his knee to part her legs to reach up her skirt. Ms. Reade is on record saying that when she backed away, Mr. Biden seemed awestruck. “Come on man, I heard you liked me,” he said, and after she refused to relent, his shock turned to anger. Pointing his finger at her, he said five words that were etched in her memory forever: “You’re nothing to me. Nothing.” 

“Imagine one of the most powerful people on the planet saying you’re nothing, someone who I thought would be a mentor, someone I respected and believed in. It affected my self-esteem, it haunted me,” she told me in a Tuesday morning telephone interview. “I knew my career was over, that I was done there, and I kept trying to find ways to get past it, but I had hurt his ego, and that was that.” Soon after filing a written complaint with the Senate personnel office, Mr. Biden’s staff let her go. 

Mr. Biden’s ego is a critical vulnerability and key driving force behind his continued attacks on Mr. Trump, she said. Underneath the commanding finger-pointing and authoritative speeches about protecting democracy and prosecuting “insurrectionists” is a terrified beta male who fears his challengers. 

“This last speech felt like it was a very pointed public relations campaign to create an image that never was,” she said of the president’s Sept. 1 comments in Philadelphia. “Biden seemed so weak. The blood red background, having the two Marines there, he was sending a message to voters that he’ll go after them if they don’t agree with him. This is like the very thing he did to me, and it is the embodiment of insecurity. It is the imposter syndrome. Joe Biden was always a lightweight. He liked the image. He liked women. He liked to be adored. But he’s the embodiment of the insecure man trying to be the alpha, and what’s exacerbated it is the aging process. He’s different now in certain ways, but he was always insecure.”

A long-time Democrat and former political staffer, Ms. Reade is convinced the president’s grandfatherly image is just a “tactic” of what she calls the “corruption of the Democratic machine.” Unable to overcome Mr. Biden’s age, Ms. Reade says the Democratic National Committee embraced it to give him credibility and distract the public from his unpredictable temper. She pointed to longtime Biden staffers such as Evelyn Lieberman—famous for relocating White House intern Monica Lewinsky away from Bill Clinton’s Oval Office—as being aware of the truth.

“He was very unpredictable in public,” she said. “Evelyn Lieberman would complain that she never knew if he was going to lose it on camera. He would swear, he wouldn’t stay on point, and so it was always interesting to see the messaging, how the media would softball it. If you say something enough times, people just believe it or it becomes fact.”

She believes those early days in handling Mr. Biden as an ongoing crisis management case left the DNC well prepared to deal with him. 

“His being older makes it easy for them to cast him as an experienced, empathetic statesman using phrases like ‘healing the soul of the nation,’ to create an image, but that’s not who he is,” she told me. “Fear—that’s who he is.”

Nearly 30 years have passed since Ms. Reade had her purported encounter with Mr. Biden. 

Although several of her family members and friends have corroborated she told them about the incident after it happened, and several other women have accused Mr. Biden of making inappropriate advances toward them, many of the mainstream media journalists who have written about Ms. Reade seem to write more about people who either don’t remember anything happened or had unflattering comments. 

That list includes the Washington Post, despite its decision to publish actress Amber Heard’s op-ed in 2018 with little due diligence to investigate her claims of “sexual violence.” 

Despite all that’s happened to her, Ms. Reade was more interested in discussing the future of the country than herself. She’s disappointed in how the Democratic Party, whose inherent values she still admires, is exploiting the #MeToo movement, “choosing to weaponize it or bury it depending on their political agenda,” and expressed sympathy for those facing the wrath of cancel culture. 

Although not a Trump supporter, she ardently believes everyone has the right to believe what they want. 

“I had a foreboding that we were about to enter an authoritative state, but with Biden, not Trump,” she told me. “But it’s not just him. It’s the people around him. They have an agenda to vilify half the country, not just because they voted for Trump, but because they want their freedom back.”

Ms. Reade wants her freedom back, too. 

But considering the anguish she’s had to bear, there’s little chance she’ll achieve that as easily as the rest of us—even after Mr. Biden leaves the corridors of power in Washington. 

Correction: A previous version of this column included a photo misidentifying Tara Reade.

• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington prosecutor who also served as a senior U.S. official from 2017 to 2021. He now serves on the editorial board for The Washington Times..

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.