Leslie Marshall: I believe Joe Biden

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Former Vice President and now presumptive Democratic 2020 Presidential nominee Joe Biden has been accused by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant who worked in the then Senator’s office 27 years ago, of sexual assault.  And in an interview Friday morning with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Biden says he is innocent, “No, it never happened, unequivocally.”

I believe him and here's why.

First, I know that because of the title of this op-ed that there will be those of you who assume that because I am a Democrat I simply wouldn’t believe any woman who has made an accusation against a Democratic political figure. That is just not true.

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I have believed some of the accusations made against former Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken and former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

I also know some of you might say I’m a hypocrite because I believed then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford. I know some readers will assume it’s because she was making her claims against a then soon-to-be conservative Supreme Court Justice.  But that simply isn’t true, because I did not believe the other Kavanaugh accusers.

I am a woman, a feminist and the mother of a pre-teen girl, who knows that there are differences between rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Sadly, I have been the victim of all three.

I, like the former Vice President, believe that when a woman comes forward with claims of sexual misconduct against anyone, you believe her; but then you investigate, you go through a vetting process to find the truth.

The overwhelming majority of victim’s claims are true, according to OurResilience.org approximately 2-8 percent are not.

Biden said his interview on Friday morning, "the truth matters." And that is what I also believe.

So why did I believe Blasey Ford but not Reade?

I will explain here in this article. But I will not be writing a comparison between the two cases.

No two cases nor accusations are alike. And this situation is no exception.

First, we must look at a few things aside from my opinion.

In 2016, President Trump, who himself has a long list of accusations against him, brought in some of former President Clinton’s accusers to sit in on a debate when he was running against Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president.  And certainly team Trump would be happy to have this claim by Reade as a distraction during this upcoming presidential campaign.

But President Trump hasn’t harped on this. He has said that Joe Biden must answer this claim and now Joe Biden has done so on national television.

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But why didn’t Trump attack Biden with this like he did Hillary with her husband’s claims? Or weigh in on this topic more? When Blasey Ford made the claims against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump mocked her publicly. And why have all of the media been timid about this?

I know why. It’s because Tara Reade is not a credible witness.

The reasons Reade is not credible play into my lack of belief in her accusation.

First, there are inconsistencies.

A year ago Tara Reade told a reporter that when she was a staff assistant in 1993, she said that Biden touched her shoulder and neck in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.

Last month that story changed to Biden sticking his hand under her skirt and forcibly penetrating her with his fingers.

It takes a lot to come forward; so why would she then change her accusation a year later?

Reade claims she made a complaint to the Senate personnel office at the time. No one has currently been able to find that complaint. And although Reade kept copies of her employment records from that time, she didn’t keep a copy of that complaint?

Additionally, no former staffer can corroborate her claim. No one from the staff at that time is aware of any complaint including the three people she listed by name: Marianne Baker, Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman. All three said she made no complaint to them as she claims.

Her brother changed his story; adding after the fact details that Reade had also added after the fact.

She claims to have told her therapist yet will not make those notes available to the Washington Post, which asked to see them, or the American public.

But perhaps for me, the two biggest reasons I question the authenticity of this accusation are:

Reade cannot remember the date, time or exact location of the incident. She has only said that she was delivering a gym bag to Biden somewhere in the Capitol area, according to the Washington Post.

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As I mentioned earlier in this piece; I have been the victim of rape, assault and harassment. Although I wish I could push these memories out of my mind, I cannot. I remember nearly every detail.

I can understand someone not remembering the date or the day of the week or perhaps the exact time; but the location?  I am sorry. I, and most victims I know or have spoken with, remember the location vividly as that terrible nightmare replays in our minds over and over and over throughout the years.

Reade praised her alleged assaulter. She publicly praised Biden for his work on the Violence Against Women Act. And she did this not just once but on multiple occasions.  She retweeted, liked, even praised him for his work combatting sexual assault; the very thing she now accuses him of.

Of Biden, Reade said: “My old boss speaks truth, listen.”

Praise?!?!?  As a victim, I would never praise my attackers.  What I would like to do to them is something straight out of a scene from "The Sopranos," but certainly not praise.

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Former Vice President Biden has requested that the National Archives release any record they have of Reade’s claim, “put it out” he said.

I agree, if the truth is truly what we’re after.

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