Tara Reade defended her sexual assault allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden in an extensive sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly posted Friday night on YouTube. Taped earlier this week, the 40-minute interview began with questions about Reade’s background, covered the alleged assault in graphic detail, and pushed Reade to confront several criticisms of her account.
A rush transcript of the full interview is below.
Megyn Kelly: Tara, thank you so much for being here. We’ll get to your accusations against Joe Biden in a minute. But first, I just want people to get a sense of who you are. Where are you from?
Tara Reade: I was born in Monterey, California. And I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, lived in about 80 acres, for part of my childhood, and lived also in Athens, Georgia, and then back to California.
MK: So you go from the West Coast to Washington, D.C. for a stint, and you work on Capitol Hill, and then you wind up getting married and having a child. Unfortunately, that marriage took a dark turn. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
TR: Yeah, I met my ex husband, actually, during the time I was living in Washington, D.C. when I was working for Joe Biden. The joy of that was my child, and my daughter is wonderful. But the heartbreak was that he was quite abusive and had a history, and we were put in a program that required me and my daughter to leave the area and have a sealed name change, and live in a safe house.
MK: It was a very serious domestic violence situation.
TR: It was, law enforcement coordinated with women’s shelters, and then also his parental rights were terminated. And so I raised my daughter by myself.
MK: So you get a name change, you get a social security number change, you wind up moving to the Pacific Northwest, and then you decide to go to law school. How’d you pay for that?
TR: I took out a lot of loans. I’m still in debt, very deeply in debt.
MK: So you spent basically most of your career at that point, helping domestic violence survivors. I’m told working for some animal rights organizations and the like.
MK: And is that what you were doing up until recently?
TR: Correct. Off and on. Yeah.
MK: How old is your daughter now?
TR: She’s 25.
MK: So let’s go back to 1992. You get a job working for then-Senator Joe Biden, as what?
TR: A staff assistant.
MK: You were overseeing the interns?
TR: Correct. I was very excited to be on the Hill. I was very excited to work for Joe Biden. He’s someone I looked up to.
MK: So you’re on Capitol Hill, you’re how old at this point?
TR: I’m 28.
MK: And you make some friends, including a woman who I’m just going to call Karen, for the purposes of this interview who is working in Ted Kennedy’s office.
MK: And Karen becomes pretty relevant in a short amount of time. Then at some point in your eight month stint working for Biden, you claim you were sexually harassed. And I’m making a distinction here between harassment and assault. We’ll get to the alleged assault in a minute. You claim sexual harassment began. How so?
TRL I would see him in hallways or whatever, he would always just greet me, put his hands on me, or put his hands on my shoulder and rub, you know, my nec, sometimes. It was just a bit odd. And I’d never had an employer do that.
MK: Did you ever see him behave appropriately with someone other than you?
TR: Not really, he would sometimes put his hands on people that I thought it was just unusual, he would just move people instead of saying excuse me, I would see that once in a while. But he seemed to, at meetings it would be, he would not necessarily look at me, but he would just put his hand on my shoulder. And then I would feel his finger underneath my hair, like on my neck.
MK: Stroking your neck?
TR: Yeah, just a little with his finger. And it just would make me freeze up because I’m, I’m a demonstrative person, but he was my boss, and quite a bit older than me. And I just was surprised by that.
MK: What did you take from that? Did you think he was after something?
TR: At the time, I just was so kind of surprised by it. And then I walked in, I was called in actually, to the office by Marianne Baker, to her office, and there was a discussion going on about me.
MK: Marian Baker was Joe Biden’s assistant for 30 years. She’s in her 70s now, right? And but she was your boss.
MK: Okay, so she was the person that you reported to and what happened? You walked into her office…
TR: They were having a discussion about having me serve drinks at a fundraising event and an aide was arguing that to me saying that, you know, I didn’t have to do that. That wasn’t my job, that because the senator had said he liked my legs and thought I was pretty, I didn’t have to do this.
MK: Who told you that?
TR: It was a, it was a senate aide
MK: That had heard Biden wanted you because he liked your legs…
TR: Correct. And I was called into the office because they wanted to discuss it with me.
TR: And then I had one of my hallway meetings with Marianne Baker when she talked to me about it. And she just said, you know, if you want to get along here you need to keep your head down and do what you’re told. If you want to keep you know, working here basically. And she said you need to button up your blouses, you need to have longer skirts, and you need to not look so sexy and noticeable, and you need to you know, change how you’re dressing.
MK: Were you wearing short skirts, and low-cut blouses?
TR: No, I was wearing like, you know what you would get at Express, like just normal, skirts. Back then in the ’90s we wore a lot of, you know, pastely kind of things. I wore heels. I mean, I did dress.
MK: So what do you think that was about?
TR: I think looking back on it, it was almost like damage control. It was like they were coming out aggressively at me because of the drinks thing, I think. But I don’t know.
MK: Did you change the way that you dressed?
TR: No, you know, it’s strange you asked that, no one’s asked me that. But at the same time, I was talking to my mother who is a very strong feminist. And that was always ahead of her time. And she explained to me that that was probably retaliation for what I was not, you know, serving the drinks.
MK: And your mom says, ‘This is inappropriate.’ What was your mom’s name?
MK: So Jeanette, says, you got to do something about this. Did you?
TR: No, I didn’t. She said, ‘You need to at least document it.’ And I said, ‘Mom, this isn’t the kind of place you do that. And I also talked to my friend, Karen.
MK: You told her what was happening in the office?
TR: In real time, yes, we were discussing it.
MK: After they had the discussion with you about your dress. Do you feel there was any other retaliation?
TR: It just became very icy and my friend Karen noticed it when she would like, if we would go to lunch or something when she call for me there was like this iciness.
MK: So there comes a day, at some point that spring, spring of 1993…
MK: Where you say Senator Biden and you had an experience in a hallway in one of the Capitol buildings. Can you describe what happened that day?
TR: Yes, I was, this was during that time where I was kind of frozen out so I was kind of surprised, but Marianne came rushing in with this bag, like a duffel bag or gym bag, she called it, and said, you know, hurry the senator’s already on his way. Just follow him and try to catch him before the capital and give him this, he wants his bag.
I remember going down the Russel Building floors. And so I don’t know if I was in the first floor or the basement but there’s corridors that lead to the Capitol and that kind of thing. And I was trying to catch up with him.
MK: This would have been on a weekday?
TR: Yes. And I remember like my heels, like my legs hurting a little. And, like, you know, there was just from walking really fast. I remember things like that. And then I saw him at a distance. He was talking to someone, and they walked away the other direction. And then he greeted me, he remembered my name. And then I said, you know, here you go, Senator. I handed him the bag. And it happened very quickly. I remember… I remember being pushed up against the wall, and thinking the first thought I had was, where’s the bag? Which is an absurd thought, but that’s what I thought was where’s the bag. Yeah, because I was handing it to him.
And he had his hands under underneath my clothes, and it happened all at once. So he had one hand underneath my shirt and the other hand, I had a skirt on. And he like went down my skirt and then went up. And I remember I was up almost on my tippy toes. And when he went inside the skirt, he was talking to me at the same time, and he was leaning into me. And I pulled this way, away from his head, I remember, and he so he was kissing my neck area and he whispered, did I want to go somewhere else in a low voice. He said some other things. I can’t remember everything he said. But he said something vulgar.
MK: May I ask what?
TR: He said ‘I want to f-ck you.’ And he said it low and I was pushing away and I remember my knee hurting because our knees, he had opened my legs with his knee and our knees caps clashed. So I felt like the sharp pain. His fingers were inside of my private area, my vagina, and there was no small talk. There was no like, precept, it was just sudden and it was happening like that. And he was saying that to me, saying those things to me, and I was pulling away.
And then he pulled back immediately when he could see I wasn’t complying. I was obviously just tensed up and frozen, and not kissing him back and not going with him. And he pulled back and he looked at me and he said, ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’ And when he said that, it was either I heard or I thought but I remember hearing ‘heard.’ When he said that, I immediately started thinking what I did like, how I brought this on, like, Did I say something to somebody? Did I give an impression? I was, just my mind was racing.
And in that moment, I knew this was really bad. I knew I was it was more than just like the assault. It was really bad. He was then angry, right? And I could feel it wasn’t like yelling angry, but like that hostility build. And he pulled back and he was just looking at me directly. And he said, he pointed his finger at me and he said, ‘You’re nothing to me. You’re nothing.’ And I think that’s the hardest thing. And I know people talk about the assault, but his words, those words stayed with me my whole life. And as I’ve been trying to tell my story, I’ve kind of been torn apart trying to tell it. Those words come back. And, it’s like, it was cruel.
So when he saw me, obviously start to get upset by what he said, he took me by the shoulders and he just kind of shook me almost like, you know, and said, you know, ‘You’re okay. You’re all right.’
MK: Had you said anything to him?
TR: I wanted to say stop. And I thought it. I don’t know if I said it. But sometimes, you know, I’ve had a couple bad dreams or a few bad dreams about it, I wake up yelling that. I wake up yelling stop. And then he didn’t look at me again. He picked up the gym bag, he turned around and he walked away and he never looked back.
MK: It sounds like it happened in an instant.
TR: I would say under three minutes. It was quick
MK: Within moments of seeing you.
TR: Right. Like there was no, like he’s never like engaged me, he never engaged me in conversation or asked me things. He just had me up and was was kissing me and then saying that.
MK: When you say that he went down the skirt and then back up, did he enter the skirt from the top of the skirt?
TR: No. On the outside.
MK: He came into the skirt from the bottom of the skirt.
MK: And were you wearing underwear?
TR: I was wearing lingerie, underwear.
MK: And he pushed it to the side?
TR: He, there was no block. Yeah, there was no reason. Yeah, he was able to do what he wanted to do.
MK: And I don’t mean to get too graphic.
TR: That’s okay.
MK: But are you saying that they were crotchless when you say that it was lingerie? Like, can I just be clear on? Did he push the underwear to the side? Or was that not an issue?
TR: That was not an issue.
TR: Because they were just lingerie panties and I was going to meet my boyfriend later. So yeah.
MK: So maybe there wasn’t much to them.
MK: You know, some people are gonna hear this story and they’re gonna say you’re telling me a U.S. Senator, in the middle of the day in a Senate office building committed a sexual assault right there. How can people believe that?
TR: I don’t really care if people believe it or not, I’ve had to live with it. And it’s just one of those things that’s impacted and shattered my life. It changed everything about my life. In that moment, I knew how angry he was. And I remember thinking like taking it on myself, like thinking I put him in a bad position. Like maybe he thought I wanted to be with him.
MK: Many people look at him and they say, you know, Joe Biden is a jovial, kind, warm guy, and he couldn’t possibly be capable of that level of callousness. To those people, what do you say?
TR: He is. I’ll never forget the calling me nothing. And the way he pointed his finger at me, the sternness and then you know, when he said, ‘You’re okay, you’re okay.’ It’s like, he just walked away.
MK: So when you got out of the Senate building, who, what did you do next? Did you tell anybody?
TR: I remember just trying to get home, like I remember sitting on those stairs, thinking I just had to get my legs to work so I could go back and get my purse. And then I remember being home, and then I was curled up, like in fetal position practically talking to my mom.
MK: Was she the first person you told?
TR: I called her.
MK: You told her all the detail?
TR: Mm hmm. It took her a while to get it out of me because I kept I was embarrassed about the underwear I was wearing. She described it as sexual assault. I mean, she said, this is wrong, and you need to call the police and she was begging me to go to police. She cried and yelled at me. And then when she was yelling at me, it really stressed me out.
MK: Did you consider it? Did you consider going to the cops?
TR: I did not, because it was the Capitol Police and I just said, ‘Mom, you don’t do that here.’
MK: Did you tell anybody other than your mom?
TR: I told Karen, and I called her and then we finally got to talk. And I just knew that something was going to change incrementally like forever. Right? So I took a shower. I remember that and I remember… I remember trying to get like that, smell, you know, just kept washing and washing.
MK: Do you feel traumatized?
TR: I felt scared. What I could say is I don’t know if it was trauma, but I felt frightened. Like, and it wasn’t just about what happened, it was my job tied up with it.
MK: Did there come a time when you actually did complain about what had been going on in that office to anyone?
TR: Yes. Right before the assault, I had gone to Marianne Baker and we had had our hallway meetings and it was about, you know, not serving the drinks and I started to tell her I was uncomfortable, and she did not want to hear that. Right after the assault, I wanted to tell her about the assault. So we were in the hallway, I was trying to tell her, I was trying to say something happened. And before I could really get any words out, she put her hand up and she said, ‘I don’t want to hear this.’
MK: There was nothing that would suggest to her you had been sexually assaulted by him.
TR: No, I started to say ‘something happened.’ And she didn’t let me get further than that.
MK: All of the complaining you did about the office environment happened prior to the alleged assault except for the conversation you claim you had with Marianne…
MK: in the hallway, where you felt shut down.
TR: Yeah, mmhmm.
MK: But then there was a point at which you decided to file a written complaint.
MK: Was that after the alleged assault?
TR: Right. Yes. So I decided to seek out some help. And they had something called like it was Senate personnel, we called it loosely, but it was like a office of, you know, I don’t even know, for employees like you go, where you get your IDs, things like that. But you go and you fill out a form and you start a process. So I did an intake form. I don’t recall what I put on the intake.
MK: When you walk into the office, do you see another human?
TR: Behind the window. Like almost like, you know, behind, if you were to go to a doctor’s office, they hand you a clipboard.
MK: So they handed you a clipboard? And it had a piece of paper on there, what did you say?
TR: I filled it out with my information and then I described the sexual harassment in terms of that being asked to be served the drinks and being uncomfortable. I doubt I use the word sexual harassment. I did not talk about the sexual assault at all. I only talked about the retaliation as well, because at that point, I was really afraid of losing my position.
MK: Did you have the chance to copy the form?
TR: No, and we didn’t have cell phones back then. Like now I would have taken a picture with my phone. But…
MK: Some people have hit you for this saying you kept virtually every record from your 92 to 93 stint in Biden’s office. Why would you not keep the one form that alleged harassment or retaliation?
TR: Actually, I didn’t, I didn’t keep very much from that time. I don’t even have pictures really from that time. I think I just have a few things.
MK: Did you even think to get a copy or to try to get a copy?
TR: I thought they were going to call me for an appointment. So I was, just thought it would be, I didn’t know I was going to be fired at that time. So I just thought I would be imminently coming into the office.
MK: How long thereafter were you fired?
TR: I would say it was within a month I was stripped of my duties. So I don’t know if they knew about the form, but I suspect that it got around. But I don’t know.
MK: So there was never a call in response to your form?
TR: I never got a call.
MK: You claim that you complained to three people in Joe Biden’s office at the time about the harassment, not the assault. They have all vehemently denied it. Marianne Baker, your direct report, says ‘such a complaint,’ quote ‘would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional and as a manager. It didn’t happen.’ Ted Kaufman says ‘She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her.’ A similar denial from Dennis Toner. These are pretty emphatic. Your reaction?
TR: Well, you have to look at the source. I mean, they’re still working with Biden, so they’re not just Biden staffers or former they’re with him, except I think Marianne Baker is now retired, but she was with him. Their job was to cover what he did. There are people that have enabled and allowed his behavior to continue and they know who they are. And in a way, they’re complicit.
MK: One of the witnesses who has come forward to support your story is Karen, this person you met in Ted Kennedy’s office. Karen is a working professional. She does not wish to be on the record by name. But she has spoken to my producer in this interview Rich McHugh, an investigative reporter and producer, and she has said to him specifically that your story has never varied. That you told her this story at the time it happened. Why do you think Karen is afraid to come forward with her real name and say this publicly?
TR: Because she’s, you know, she owns a business and I mean, she has, you know, a family. You see what’s happening to me, my friends and family are being harassed and attacked and discredited and dragged through the mud.
MK: There’s another woman who says you told her this story about two years after it happened.
MK: Her name is Linda LaCasse. She’s a lifelong Democrat. She says she’s a Biden supporter and is going to vote for Joe Biden this November. But she said, this happened. And I know it did because I remember talking about it, people need to believe Tara. What’s happened to her since she came out and identified herself as somebody who is a corroborating witness of yours.
TR: She said, it’s been hard on her, because she’s been getting harassing calls. People have been saying really terrible things about her in social media and dragging some of her personal life onto personal finances. Just all kinds of things smeared.
MK: You voted for Joe Biden, in 2008, and 2012. And I think a lot of people look at that and say, how could you vote for the man who sexually assaulted you?
TR: Because I wasn’t voting for him. I was voting for Obama. I mean, I was really hopeful and happy that Obama became president and Joe Biden happened to be on the ticket. My daughter was young. There was no way I was going to come forward. And at those times, there was really no mechanism. And I think when people say ‘why don’t you just tell your story?’ Well, it’s not that easy. When I when I tried to bring forth my story this year alone, it took months for a news outlet to really look at it, and then months more for them to investigate it vet it and look into it. And then they decide, they decide, when they print it. I have no control over that.
MK: But as recently as 2017, you were praising Joe Biden publicly…
MK: And I think that has a lot of people scratching their heads, right. On multiple occasions you retweeted or you liked online praise for Joe Biden and his work combating sexual assault. There was a compliment you tweeted about him saying ‘My old boss speaks truth. Listen.’ I mean, it is true that women do sometimes praise men who have sexually harassed or abused them. But why would you publicly praise Joe Biden for actions on sexual assault when you claim that’s what he did to you?
TR: Well, one thing during that time, I am an expert witness on domestic violence issues, as you know, so that was like an account that was, you know, part of that awareness of domestic violence and, other violent acts. I’ve always been conflicted about Joe Biden, I didn’t want to talk badly about him. And I wasn’t ready to tell my history with Joe Biden at that point at all. And nor had any idea of going to the press about it at that point. It wasn’t until 2019, when I saw Lucy Flores come forward and the way the media treated her…
MK: Politician from the state of Nevada..
MK: Who had come out and made an allegation about Joe Biden touching her inappropriately at a campaign event, she said.
TR: I felt I wanted to come forward. So I talked to my friend Karen. And Karen actually had said, ‘Have you noticed they said no employees had come forward?’ and I said, ‘I know,’ you know, and I thought about it. But Karen was really against me ever coming forward period and public. She just said, the blowback will be so bad, it just will be terrible. And I’m like, well, this is a different time. There’s a Me Too movement. Like maybe this is the time for me to really… I feel a bit hypocritical. Here I am an advocate for other people, but I’m hiding the secret. I’m not telling what happened to me.
MK: You give an interview to your local paper and you don’t tell the full story. You only tell about the alleged harassment and you don’t mention the alleged assault. Why not?
TR: The first question that was asked of me was, ‘Well, it wasn’t sexual was it?’ And that’s all it took. I was so lacking in courage and it’d be the first time I’ve been telling the story. I just, I kind of took my breath and I thought, okay, I can’t really talk about what happened. And then as soon as the local article came out, talking about the harassment, within hours before it even hit the paper, I was being called a Russian agent.
MK: Right. We’ll get to Vladimir Putin in a minute. But how soon after speaking to that reporter in April of ’19, did you begin reconsidering and thinking about telling the full story?
TR: Almost immediately, I think it was probably later in the summer that I started reaching out back to, you know, a couple of reporters I had been speaking with, and they did not respond. And so then I started reaching out to politicians. And I really started in the fall very actively even tweeting openly, like there’s something more, there’s something more and really putting it out there but not receiving a response.
MK: Let me back up. So when you spoke out in April of ’19 about the alleged harassment, but not assault, you did something interesting. In an interview you gave to the Washington Post there’s a quote from you that is, ‘This is what I want to emphasize. It’s not him. It’s the people around him who keep covering for him. For instance, he should have known what was happening to me. Looking back now that’s my criticism. Maybe he could have been a little bit more in touch with his own staff.’ A little more in touch with his own staff. I mean, this is the guy who allegedly sexually assaulted you. And you seem to be trying to cover him in this discussion with the Washington Post. Do they have the quote, right, and why would you do that?
TR: I’m pretty sure that’s in response to the question about specifically the retaliation. So I was being, I was talking about, they were asking me if Joe Biden fired me and I said, ‘No, it was Ted Kaufman. I don’t even know if Joe Biden knew I was fired.’ Because he wasn’t in touch, what I meant by that was he wasn’t in touch with the day to day of staff. Like that’s not something he did.
MK: You’re not blaming him, and weren’t blaming him for the retaliation you suffered?
TR: Yeah, I wasn’t sure he even knew.
MK: Let’s talk about some of the backlash you got when you came out in April of 2019, including being accused of being a Russian agent. Your comments on Vladimir Putin are a little out there. Right? So just, I want to give you the chance to explain what that’s about. You’ve said he’s a ‘genius with athletic prowess that’s intoxicating.’ ‘He has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness, his sensuous image projects, his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity.’ And that,’ like most women across the world, you’d like President Putin a lot, shirt on or off.’
TR: Well, that was the joke. That was humorous, meant to be humorous, but…
MK: You sound pretty enamored with him.
TR: But I think that what I want to say about that is if you read all of the posts they’re a lot about Russia and the anti-Russia sentiment right now that we have, and I don’t like xenophobia. You know, and I was writing a Russian novel, that was part of the writing group that I mentioned earlier. And we were doing creative writing, creative posts, and I was in the middle of studying about Russia, kind of immersing myself in that. The truth of the matter is, you know, I’ve never been to Russia. I don’t know what it’s like to live there or the human rights violations that, you know he is accused of. And what I would say now is that I don’t appreciate his views about, for instance, domestic violence programs, like there’s not a lot of support for women, from my understanding…
MK: You’ve had a change of heart on him.
TR: Yeah. But all of that aside, has nothing to do with what happened in 1993. Or where Joe Biden had his hands where they weren’t supposed to be.
MK: Eventually you do decide to tell the full story and you put that decision someplace in the summer of 2019. You tried to go to the press, you didn’t get- nobody would take the story? How many publications would you say you went to?
TR: Oh, gosh, I don’t know. I went to quite a few.
MK: Would they just blow you off?
TR: Um, there was just no answer. Yeah, like I went to I think The Guardian probably there was, I reached out to NPR to the New Yorker. I mainly stayed with like PBS, NPR, New York Times. Those kinds of… yeah.
MK: Why do you think they were blowing you off?
TR: I don’t know if they were blowing me off. But I think people need to understand when they’re trying to tell a story. It’s not that easy. I think, you know, you go to the tip lines or you go if you’re not a known citizen or known person, you don’t necessarily get a platform to come forward.
MK: Was this at all politically motivated? Because that’s what people think, you know. They think you were a Marianne Williamson supporter, you’re a Bernie supporter. This is about politics.
TR: No, actually, it’s not it. Well, I think everything is political. Like maybe I’ll take that back. Everything’s political, right? But this is deeper than that. This is about watching the person that assaulted me be elevated to the highest office in the land. He’s running on a platform of character, and I just, I found that gross. I know what he’s like, I experienced what he was like. And I wanted people to know.
MK: But if you brought it to, for example, the Elizabeth Warren campaign, right, to try to get them to do something with it. And the Kamala Harris campaign?
TR: I did, mm hmm.
MK: Isn’t that inherently political? I mean doesn’t that suggest, in fact, this is all political?
TR: I tried to reach out to them, yes, I did. I tried to reach out to them… Well, Kamala Harris is my representative. So I tried to reach out to her in particular, for help, like I wanted to get a safe place to tell what happened. And I didn’t get a response. So I kept again, trying to get it out there. I think that many things can be true at once is what you know, we all know, right? He is presented as a champion of women’s rights. And yet I know personally, and I know seven other women that did not experience him that way.
MK: One of the reasons people have chosen to dismiss you, some people have chosen to dismiss your allegation, is because there was a March 3 tweet that I want to ask you about.
MK: So The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, tweeted out, quote, ‘a head to head Biden v Sanders contest will force voters to take a close look at Biden again. That went very badly for him last time.’ And you responded at 10:33pm on March 3, 2020. ‘Yep. Timing. Wait for it. Tick Tock.’ It sounds political. And it sounds like you were excited to drop this bomb.
TR: That was in response to me getting finally, I thought, an attorney from Time’s Up to finally bring something forward and bring my story forward in a safe way. So that’s why I wrote it.
MK: Tick Tock was a…
TR: Time’s up.
MK: Time’s up.
MK: Were you excited? Because it sounds anticipatory, you’re building the anticipation and the suspense. People have used that as a reason to say she’s not credible.
TR: I think that they’ll use anything to say that I’m not credible. So I won’t address it in that way. What I will say is that I was very, very vocal on Twitter about trying to get the story forward.
MK: Can we talk about the double standard in, you know, that some believe exists in the way you’ve been treated versus the way some other two complainants have been treated. Some of those who touted the ‘we must believe all women’ line the most during for example, the Kavanaugh hearings for the Supreme Court certainly seem to have changed their tune when it comes to you. Nancy Pelosi is one of them. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Alyssa Milano. How did that feel?
TR: It makes me upset. It makes me angry, because those are people that I respected, some of which I voted for or worked with, you know, in some capacity, you know, when I was on the Hill, like, in a remote way they were there. I voted for some people that said this. For instance, I supported Elizabeth Warren, who basically said she believed Joe Biden and just dismissed me.
MK: What do you want to say to people like that who are looking into the camera right now saying, I don’t believe her. I support him.
TR: I want to say you don’t have to discredit me or not believe me to vote for Joe Biden. I even have friends and family that are still voting for Joe Biden because they, that’s what they’re doing. Why wouldn’t you ask me? Ask me what happened. Ask me my experience. And then if you choose to not believe me, that’s fine. And I don’t really care deep down if they believe me or not. I know what happened to me. And I’ll move forward. But I want other survivors to know that that they can come forward and when they see this sort of onslaught, this sort of partisanship, it’s very discouraging. So we can come forward unless it’s a Democrat? Is that the message we’re sending?
MK: You’ve been an active Democrat your whole life.
MK: Are you still?
TR: I’m well, I don’t know if they’ve noticed, but I’m leaving the Democratic Party. And I won’t be part of any. I won’t be a Republican. It’s just not my political belief system. I’ve been pretty much a progressive all my life and so it’s been, I feel politically homeless.
MK: Do you believe we should believe all women?
TR: I believe in the survivors that have come forward like Blasey Ford, and the other ones that have come forward. I do stand with them. I think that there needs to be a conversation rather than a hashtag.
MK: Are you in favor of the conversation? I mean, does Joe Biden get due process? Does he get the chance to vet these claims and defend himself? Is that okay?
TR: I think he’s been doing that. Right? He’s had a chance for more platforms than I have.
MK: Let’s talk about what he said, because he went on TV last Friday. And said, first of all, it never happened. Period end of report. This did not happen. He did say that, in his view, accusers should start off with the presumption that they’re telling the truth. Do you think he’s afforded you that presumption?
TR: No. I mean, it’s been stunning, actually how, some of his surrogates with the blue checks, you know that his surrogates have been saying really horrible things about me and to me on social media. He hasn’t himself, but there is a measure of hypocrisy with the campaign saying it’s safe, it’s not been safe. You know, all my social media has been hacked. All my personal information has been dragged through, every person that maybe has a you know, gripe against me, an ex boyfriend or an ex landlord, whatever it is, has been able to have a platform rather than me, talking about things that have nothing to do with 1993.
Like, even the whole thing with being called a Russian agent, that in particular, that incites people, people actually, I got a death threat from that because they thought I was being a traitor to America. And I mean, these are serious things and his campaign is, you know, taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely. I have not experienced that.
MK: Where does the line get drawn, though, right? Because, you know, he has to have the opportunity to question your story. Of course, he’s going to come out and say, ‘It isn’t true. And these are the reasons I don’t believe it’s true. And you shouldn’t believe it’s true.’ Like any man accused, or woman for that matter, has the right to do that. Right.
MK: So where are people going wrong in the coverage of this story?
TR: I think one thing that was notable was it took him a long time to respond, didn’t it?
TR: Correct, like, how long did it take?
MK: Over a month for him to publicly respond.
TR: Right, exactly. So it took over a month. And meanwhile, his campaign manager kept saying that the media had to investigate it. And to me, you know, being a past victim advocate for domestic violence, I thought that was appalling. That’s like calling the mob to like tear apart somebody. And I really, and they did.
MK: Have you had any representation during this time?
TR: No, no.
MK: So you got rejected by Time’s Up. Have you had a PR person?
TR: No, no.
MK: Have you had a lawyer?
MK: So it’s just you?
TR: Just me kind of stumbling around trying to tell my story.
MK: If he’s watching this, what do you want to say to him?
TR: I want to say, ‘You and I were there, Joe Biden, please step forward and be held accountable. And if you feel that you can address this in a real way, then you know, and I know that you should step down. You’re not, you should not be running on character for the president of the United States.’
MK: You want him to withdraw?
TR: I wish he would. But he won’t, but I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.
MK: Do you want an apology?
TR: I think it’s a little late. That should have happened in 1993.
MK: Now he says, he’s calling on the National Archives to release whatever documents that may have come from the Senate personnel offices while you were there, in search of this alleged complaint. They say they don’t have them. Some are saying he should release his Senate files that are being kept at the University of Delaware. He says he’s not going to do that. He was asked ‘Why not just have somebody go over there and do a search only for any document that mentions Tara Reade or sexual harassment?’ He won’t do it. Your reaction to that?
TR: I think that says it all. And I think once we get the document, we’ll see what it says.
MK: What if we don’t get the document? What does that tell us?
TR: Again, that says at all. I think that his reluctance is speaking volumes.
MK: If I can just go back for one second to Blasey Ford. We mentioned her and we were talking about ‘believe all women.’ Some of those who supported her, but now have found a reason not to support you say, ‘Well, she was under oath.’ Would you go under oath?
MK: They say ‘Well, she subjected herself to cross examination.’ Would you do that?
MK: They also point out that She took a polygraph controlled by someone on her team. Is that something you want to do?
TR: I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph. What I would say is that they’re not admissible into court. One. Two, Blasey Ford took one. Is that true? I believe that’s what I understand. But what kind of precedent does that set for survivors of violence? Does that mean we’re presumed guilty, and we all have to take polygraphs? So I’m just putting it out there. So I will take one if Joe Biden takes one. But I’m not a criminal.
MK: President Trump has been accused by over 12 women of sexual assault or harassment or worse. And I think that gets to the heart of it. A lot of Democrats are mad, they’re mad at you for, they see it as an attempt to tar their guy, the one guy who could bring down a man they loath and they kind of just wish you would go away. To those people, what do you say?
TR: I say again, you don’t have to discredit me or not believe me to vote for Joe Biden. Voting is a very personal thing. And I’m not here to influence a national election and I don’t want to be. I do not want to help Donald Trump win. I do not want to help Joe Biden win. Obviously, he’s the person that hurt me.
MK: There’s an op-ed in the New York Times today by Linda Hirshman, who says, I believe Tara Reade, and I’m still gonna vote for Joe Biden. And I know it means I have to sell out Tara Reade, but I just think Trump’s worse, is essentially her position. More artfully stated than that. Can you understand that?
TR: I think that says more about our culture and our society right now than it says about me, right? I mean, this is the highest office of the land. So do we want someone who thinks of women as objects who thinks that they can just take what they want in that moment for their pleasure, and that’s it? And I guess that’s the question.
MK: On the subject of others coming forward, some people have said if a guy’s gonna be this brazen in a sexual assault case. Doing this to a woman who works for him in the middle of a Senate office building in the middle of the day in the middle of a corridor. He’s a sitting U.S. Senator, there would be others. That they can’t believe Tara Reade, because there’s no one else making an allegation this serious. What do you say to them?
TR: I say I think I’m a poster child as to why women wouldn’t come forward, arent I? If you’ve been watching any of the social media or the news and seeing how I’ve been attacked basically on everything about me. It’s pretty obvious that if you did have a story to come forward with about Joe Biden it would be pretty daunting wouldn’t it?
MK: What is the end game here? You know a lot of people think, eh, she’s just disappointed bernie didn’t get she’s trying to make something up to go after Biden and even if its true what’s the end game she wants trump what is the end game for you here
TR: My end game is basically telling my story in a dignified way, not being torn apart, and it’s being able to move on with my life and heal.
MK: How has this whole thing affected you?
TR: It’s been freeing, I can’t describe it, but even all the smears, it’s just like okay bring everything out, like fine, talk terrible things about me. Like my bankruptcy was posted and I want people to know, don’t be ashamed if you’re poor, don’t be ashamed if your life is messy. That’s ridiculous, you should be able to talk about your life. We all have problems and no one’s perfect. It took me a long time to come forward because of things that were happening in my life. But from survivors they always have this feeling like they have to be perfect or they have to have you know… and I’m not perfect and it’s all out there, like everything about me, and in a way it’s just set me free.
MK: Thank you so much for being here.
TR: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
MK: You bet.