The Slatest

Tara Reade Says She Didn’t Write About Alleged Assault in Biden Senate Complaint

Biden standing in front of a row of American flags
Joe Biden at the Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 12. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who says the former vice president sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, is disputing a story that quotes her regarding the report she allegedly filed with a congressional personnel office. On Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press published a piece claiming that Reade said the report she filed does not explicitly accuse the then-senator of sexual assault or harassment. “I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable,” Reade said in an interview Friday. “I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.” The piece quotes Reade as saying that she knows she “didn’t use sexual harassment,” but rather the word uncomfortable and that she feared “retaliation.”

Shortly after the piece was published, though, Reade wrote a tweet that only said, “This is false,” with a link to the AP story. Reade did not immediately elaborate but later said she was disputing the headline of the piece. Reade later told Fox News that while the “story itself is correct,” the headline was “wrong.” The headline initially read, “Tara Reade says a Senate report she filed against Joe Biden didn’t refer to sexual harassment or assault.” An Associated Press spokesperson said that it “stands by its story.” The AP later changed the headline to “Reade: ‘I didn’t use sexual harassment’ in Biden complaint.” But Reade said she wasn’t happy with that change either, saying that it was “still incorrect” and “misleading.” Reade added that “they’re standing by the fact … that I said I don’t think I used the term sexual harassment. We didn’t use it as much back in 1993, so I don’t know, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a box that I didn’t check. Until we get that form, we don’t know.” Talking to NBC News, Reade said she was “not sure” what words she used in the complaint. “I filed a complaint re sexual harassment and retaliation but I am not sure what explicit words on that intake form until we all see it again,” Reade told NBC News in a text message.

Separately, the AP also reports that two additional people have spoken up anonymously to say Reade told them about at least some aspects of her allegations against Biden. One friend said Reade told her about the alleged assault when it happened in 1993, and another one said she told her in 2007 or 2008 about how she experienced sexual harassment from Biden.

The report Reade claims she filed with a congressional office has become an important element in her accusations against Biden. On Friday, Biden said he didn’t know of any complaint against him but called on the Senate and National Archives to search their records to see if they can locate a complaint from Reade. But what Reade allegedly told the Associated Press suggests that even if a document were to be found, it would not confirm her allegations because she did not detail them at the time.

The Associated Press asked Reade about the complaint after uncovering notes from an interview last year in which she said she “chickened out” of filing a report. “They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in there once, but then I chickened out,” she said, according to a transcript of the interview last year. At the time, Reade had accused Biden of touching her inappropriately but did not detail the sexual assault allegations until this year. Reade says that her “chickened out” comment referred to the way she did not fully detail the assault allegations in the report.

Earlier in the day there were reports that Tara Reade canceled a planned appearance on Fox News Sunday. “We never confirmed the interview or the New York Times story and we don’t provide details on the booking process,” a Fox News spokesperson said. The New York Times’ Lisa Lerer tweeted that Reade said she canceled the interview because she received death threats. Reade later retweeted that tweet.

This story has been updated with new information since it was first published.