Bernie aides erupt over development in Biden sexual assault claim as DNC stays mum
Aides to former 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders are expressing their anger about the latest development in a sexual assault accusation against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden -- after video emerged from 1993 in which the accuser's mother appears to allude to her accusation.
"The video of Tara Reade's late mother calling into Larry King to blow the whistle about about [sic] Tara's sexual assault is being met with relative silence from a cadre of progressives right now and I want you all to know that I see you," former Sanders senior adviser Winnie Wong tweeted. "We all do."
BIDEN CAMPAIGN ADAMANTLY DENIES ALLEGATION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
"Progressives didn't make this happen. Corporate Democrats chose Biden," Briahna Joy Gray, former Sanders press secretary, tweeted. Gray also added: "It's a good time to note that Bernie's on the ballot."
Tara Reade, a staffer for Biden in 1993 who has claimed he sexually assaulted her, told Fox News on Friday that it was her mother who called into “Larry King Live” in the resurfaced clip and alluded to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s presidential campaign has adamantly denied Reade’s claims, but the video is likely to be cited as evidence to show that Reade made her claims known to members of her family at the time. The Democratic National Committee did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
The Intercept on Friday first reported the transcript on the Aug. 11, 1993 broadcast, where the woman -- who does not mention sexual assault, or the specific details of Reade’s claim -- asks a question to the panel. The clip was later found and published by Newsbusters.
"Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him," the caller says.
"In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?" King inquires.
"That’s true," the woman responds before King cuts away to a panel to discuss her claim.
Reade says that woman is Jeanette Altimus, her mother.
"This is my mom. I miss her so much and her brave support of me," Reade tweeted about her mother, who died in 2016.
The Biden campaign referred Fox News to a statement earlier this month from Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield that said: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen."
"Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women," Bedingfield said. "He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard - and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press."
The National Organization for Women (NOW) also did not respond to comments from Fox News. The offices of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former 2020 hopefuls who have been floated as possible VP picks for Biden, did not respond to requests for comment about the latest development.
Other names floated as possible running mates also did not immediately respond to requests for comment, including: Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Some, such as Klobuchar and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have spoken about the accusation in the past.
"[I]n this case -- and your listeners should look at the story -- there was a thorough review by The New York Times. And I think that's very important to have, especially involving public figures," Klobuchar said. "But I think when I look at -- when I see Vice President Biden, someone I worked with, I see him on -- a leader on domestic abuse -- led the bill before people were even willing to talk about those horrific crimes and has really been a champion of abuses of power against women and has used his voice on the domestic abuse front in such a big way."
“Governor Whitmer believes that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond and that it is something that no one takes lightly. But it is also something that is personal. We will not speculate or provide greater insight, without knowing more about the situation," a spokesperson for Whitmer told Fox News.
CLIP SURFACES OF BIDEN ACCUSER TARA READE'S MOTHER PHONING INTO 'LARRY KING LIVE' IN 1993 ALLUDING TO CLAIM
The new development could further complicate how to handle the claim for Democrats, who have leaned heavily into accusations of sexual assault against both President Trump and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In the case of the accusations against Kavanaugh that appeared during his contentious confirmation hearing in 2018, many Democrats said that women’s stories should be believed and called on Kavanaugh to be removed from consideration.
"Have had a lot of prominent Democrats write me, many in the past few minutes, say they think this Larry King video is damaging for Joe Biden, and bolsters Tara Reade’s credibility," Sanders backer Shaun King tweeted after the clip resurfaced. "But that they think speaking about it will help Trump so they won’t say anything."
Reade's story first resurfaced in an article in The Intercept on March 24. Podcast host Katie Halper then interviewed Reade, who said that in 1993, a more senior member of Biden's staff asked her to bring the then-senator his gym bag near the U.S. Capitol building, which led to the encounter in question.
"He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then we were alone. It was the strangest thing," Reade told Halper. "There was no like, exchange really. He just had me up against the wall."
Reade said that she was wearing “a business skirt,” but “wasn’t wearing stockings — it was a hot day.”
She continued: “His hands were on me and underneath my clothes, and he went down my skirt and then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”
Reade claimed Biden first asked if she wanted “to go somewhere else.”
“I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing,” Reade said. “He said: ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’”
Reade said she tried to share her story last year, but nobody listened to her. Earlier this month, she filed a criminal complaint against Biden with police in Washington, D.C.
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Reade recalled being "furious" at her mother for phoning in to CNN after having watched the clip on a recorded tape following the broadcast.
She told Fox News she "dreamt" about her mother on Thursday night. The following morning, The Intercept's Ryan Grim told her that he found the transcript.
Reade said she "cried" when she watched the clip on Friday evening, telling Fox News it had been years since she had heard her mother's voice. She had urged Reade to file a police report at the time of the alleged assault, Reade said.
"Always listen to your mom, always listen to your mom," an emotional Reade told Fox News.
Still, the mother’s interview doesn’t specifically corroborate Reade’s latest allegations of assault, and could be referring more to the bullying allegations she raised last year. In a 2020 interview, Reade laid more blame with Biden’s staffers for “bullying her” than with Biden himself, The Washington Post reported.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Reade has come forward before: Last year, when multiple women emerged claiming inappropriate touching by Biden.
Reade, at the time, claimed Biden put his hands on her shoulders and rubbed his fingers up and down her neck, but was unable to gain traction on her story aside from an article in a local newspaper.
But in recent weeks, Reade told a far more graphic account, with different and more serious details, raising the allegation to the level of sexual assault.
“Now we’ll see if a different set of rules still applies to Joe Biden,” Erin Perrine, the principal deputy communications for President Trump's re-election campaign, said in a statement to Fox News. “Maybe now at least one reporter will ask him about it.”
Fox News' Alex Pappas, Brooke Singman and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.