IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Here are the facts regarding Tara Reade's allegation against Joe Biden

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden Morning Joe
Joe Biden speaks with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe.NBC News

WASHINGTON — A month ago, a California woman — Tara Reade — alleged that apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden assaulted her 27 years ago when she worked for Biden in his Senate office, a charge that Biden vehemently denies.

“No, it is not true. I am saying unequivocally — it never happened,” Biden said onMSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning.

It's a complicated story, colored by Biden's past history of touching women (though never before in the way Reade alleges), and Reade’s past statements and writings.

So here are the facts as we know them:

1. Some have corroborated Reade's allegation, others haven't

Earlier this month, NBC News reached out to five people whom Reade says she shared varying degrees of the sexual-assault allegation about Biden. One of the five, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Reade told her about the alleged assault. Another, who also spoke anonymously, recalled Reade mentioning inappropriate touching by Biden — but not assault. The three others said on the record that they do not recall any such conversation with Reade.

On Monday, Business Insider published an interview with one former neighbor of Reade, who confirmed – on the record – that she recalls Reade disclosing details of the allegations against Biden in the mid-1990s. A second on-the-record source recalled Reade telling her that Biden harassed her, but did not corroborate the assault allegation.

2. Reade isn't the first woman to accuse Biden of inappropriate behavior

“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?” I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified,” Lucy Flores, a former Dem nominee for lieutenant governor recalled in 2019.

In April of last year, Biden acknowledged those kind of complaints against him. “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying and I understand it,” he said. “I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”

3. Reade has changed her story from a year ago

In 2019, she accused Biden of inappropriate touching — but not of assault. “Alexandra Tara Reade said that in 1993 she was in her mid-20s when Biden, then a senator from Delaware, touched her several times making her feel uncomfortable,”The Union reported last year. “Reade said her responsibilities in the senator’s office were reduced after she refused to serve drinks at an event — what she called a desire of Biden’s because he liked her legs. Reade said she felt pushed out and left Biden’s employ in August 1993 after some nine months. ‘He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,’ Reade said. ‘I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.’

Reade later said she didn’t discuss the assault allegation because she was scared and not “quite ready.” “I wanted to share the whole thing, but at the same time I was too scared,” Reade told Vox. “I just wasn’t quite ready.”

4. In 2018, Reade wrote Medium posts praising Vladimir Putin (which are now deleted)

“President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity,” she wrote.

She later said these posts were part of a novel she was writing set in Russia

5. Before she made her assault allegation, Reade was a Bernie Sanders supporter and opponent of Joe Biden

After previously supporting Marianne Williamson and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 race, Reade — after Super Tuesday — was a constant presence on Twitter, tweeting and retweeting pro-Bernie Sanders and anti-Biden messages.

But it wasn’t until March 15 – after Sanders’ loss in Michigan – when she tweeted about Biden’s harassment/touching, but not the alleged assault.

On March 17, she tweeted about harassment and “more”

And then on March 25, she tweeted her podcast interview with progressive Katie Halper – her first reference on Twitter to the assault allegation

6. The Trump comparison

In comparison to the Reade and Flores allegations, some two dozen women have alleged sexual misconduct against Donald Trump before he ran and became president – which he has denied.

In the infamous “Access Hollywood” interview, Trump says: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Yesterday, Trump said this about the Reade allegation against Biden: “I think he should respond. It could be false allegations, I know all about false accusations. I’ve been falsely charged numerous times. There’s such a thing.”

Talking policy with Benjy: “Great Depression Land”?

Congress continues to pump money into programs to prop up businesses during the pandemic, but some observers are warning that it could still leave a long trail of bankruptcies that prolong the economic damage, NBC’s Benjy Sarlin writes.

Paul Winfree, co-executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s commission on reopening the economy, told NBC News that his conversations with dozens and dozens of business owners in recent weeks have made him increasingly worried about the prospects of a “V-shaped” recovery – where the economy quickly snaps back into place.

Among the concerns he’s heard: Even if restrictions ease, many retail stores and restaurants in particular may find demand is too weak to justify reopening in the current environment. Some businesses may be locked into expensive leases and vendor agreements that can no longer support a profit, especially with new social distancing requirements. PPP loans and grants come with restrictions on how much can be applied to expenses besides payroll, an issue one prominent New York bar cited as a factor in deciding to shut down permanently this week. Businesses that do reopen may need time to rehire and train workers and fix supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, which could also delay the recovery.

“We might start seeing this cascading effect where businesses without lots of capital say, 'I'm just going to go out of businesses and come back when this is all done, get a new space, and then start over,'” he said.

Winfree stressed that he doesn’t believe reopening prematurely and inviting new outbreaks would be a helpful alternative. But he warned the risk of long-term damage will get worse the longer it takes to stand up public health measures needed to reopen communities and give consumers confidence they can shop and spend safely.

“If this goes into the summer, we might be in Great Depression Land,” he said. “That means years, not months, to recover.”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

1,076,775: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,850 more than yesterday morning.)

63,512: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,417 more than yesterday morning).

6.23 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

More than 100,000: The number of body bags the federal government ordered in April.

7 million: The number of masks FEMA is sending to America’s nursing home facilities, which advocates say is not nearly enough.

At least 25: The number of former Trump officials now registered to lobby on coronavirus issues.

More than half: The number of states that will lift coronavirus protections by the end of the week.

3.8 million: The number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits last week.

GOP House leader makes the case why Congress should come back to work next week

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t budged on bringing the House back next week, House Republicans are arguing that Congress should be going to work just like doctors are during the pandemic. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “Doctors go to work every day. Congress does not. Delivery drivers continue to work every day. But Congress is not. You got from the store clerks, you got every element willing to keep this country working, I believe Congress is essential.”

McCarthy went further to suggest phasing in committees, per our Hill team: “I would bring back the subcommittees on appropriations and give them bigger rooms. Have them do the work. So then what will happen is you'll have product that needs to be voted on by Congress,” McCarthy said. “And you don't have everybody back there at once but as bills get done you can pinpoint when they need to be voted on and you can bring members back so maybe all members are not back there for the entire week. They are there for a few days to vote.”

As for the Democrats, Pelosi said on Thursday the plan is to come back the week after next, as long as that is hand-in-hand with the advice from the Capitol physician and the Sergeant at Arms.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Trump camp to go up with seven-figure buy

“President Trump's re-election campaign is preparing to spend seven figures on a national advertising buy that will tout the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, according to a senior campaign official,” NBC’s Monica Alba and Ben Kamisar write.

“A new, 60-second television ad will start airing on Sunday and run for one week. This would mark the re-elect’s first major TV ad blitz of the general election, with just about six months to go. ‘It’s an inspirational message about the unyielding resolve of Americans. It heralds the great American comeback,’ the Trump campaign official said.”

The Lid: All over the map

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we took a spin through the 2020 Senate map to see why Democrats are feeling better these days about their chances to regain the chamber.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Trump says Joe Biden “should respond” to sexual assault allegations.

Tim Alberta delves into what Justin Amash is really thinking.

Secret Service paid Trump’s DC hotel more than $33,000 to provide protection for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The vice president’s office is retaliating against a reporter who tweeted about mask requirements at the Mayo Clinic after Vice President Pence appeared at the facility without one.