2020 Election

Attorney Who Drafted Violence Against Women Act With Joe Biden Doesn’t Believe Tara Reade

Questions whether Russia, Bernie Sanders behind allegations

Victoria Nourse
Victoria Nourse / C-SPAN

The attorney who drafted the Violence Against Women Act with Joe Biden in the early 1990s said she doesn’t believe Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against the former vice president and questioned whether the Russian government or the Bernie Sanders campaign are behind the claims.

Victoria Nourse, who also served as Biden’s chief counsel in 2015, told the Washington Free Beacon by email that Reade’s allegations against Biden don’t "make sense" based on her personal experience with the former vice president. She also pointed to Reade’s "changing story" and said that Biden once saved her when Nourse was sexually harassed by a public official in the early 1990s.

"I never worked with Tara Reade," Nourse, who is now a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, told the Free Beacon. "I never heard of her. I don't think the allegations make sense at all to the Biden I know."

"The press should continue to do its job, and investigate how the allegations arose (Bernie?), Putin," she added. "[T]he changing story … and all other relevant factors that might contribute to our understanding. They should also realize that we are in the middle of a pandemic."

Other Biden supporters have raised questions about Reade’s motivation for coming forward. Last April, George W. Bush's former White House ethics counsel Richard Painter noted that Reade wrote and later deleted a Medium article about her support for Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2018.

Reade, a former staffer who worked in Biden's Senate office in 1992 and 1993, has accused Biden of accosting her in a hallway, pushing her against a wall, and putting his hand up her skirt. She said he previously made remarks about liking her legs and had asked her to serve drinks at one of his events. Biden denied the allegations in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week.

Nourse said she doubts Reade's story because Biden "once saved me from a minor incident of sexual harassment, sometime between 1990-1993."

Nourse, who was lead counsel on VAWA at the time, said she was on a four-person plane with Biden when another senior official, whom she declined to name, openly declared that he wanted to sit next to her on the flight because she was "the pretty girl." She said Biden, apparently sensing her discomfort, whispered in her ear to sit directly across from him, keep her eyes on him and prep him for a VAWA speech he was planning to give.

Nourse also sent the Free Beacon a link to the first VAWA bill she worked on with Biden in 1990, which classified sexual assault as a federal civil rights violation. The designation was later overturned by the Supreme Court. "Sounds like the author is a sexual assaulter, right?" she said. "Now, can we get back to the pandemic … and voting by mail[?]"