Time's Up CEO Praises Biden After Declining to Aid Accuser Tara Reade

May 1, 2020

An organization created to help victims of sexual assault—but declined to aid Biden accuser Tara Reade earlier this year—is now praising her alleged assailant.

Time's Up was created to support victims of sexual assault but declined to assist former Biden staffer Tara Reade, who accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of forcibly penetrating her in 1993. The organization's CEO, Tina Tchen, who worked alongside Biden as a top official in the Obama White House, lauded Biden for his "transparency" in a Friday interview with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle.

"Biden has called for full transparency, he's called for records to come out—that's what needs to happen every time these issues come up, and I would suggest that it needs to happen with other candidates who are running for president," Tchen said shortly after Biden broke his silence on the network.

During his MSNBC appearance Friday morning, Biden repeatedly rejected calls to release documents from his Senate career, which are currently sealed at the University of Delaware and may include records related to Reade. Biden said the archive does not contain "personnel records by definition" but added that he would not release the documents because they could include policy positions that would become "fodder in a campaign at this time." He also refused to conduct a more specific search of the documents for any mention of Reade's name, saying, "There is nothing.… I don't understand the point you are trying to make."

Formed during the #MeToo movement to help victims of sexual assault with legal fees and public relations, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund declined to assist Reade in her case against Biden, claiming his presidential candidacy would threaten its nonprofit status. Tchen previously served as chief of staff to Michelle Obama—Biden said he would pick the former first lady as his running mate "in a heartbeat" on Monday. In addition, the public relations firm working on behalf of Time's Up, SKDKnickerbocker, is run by top Biden campaign adviser Anita Dunn. Loyola Law School tax professor Ellen Aprill disputed the group's reasoning for refusing to help Reade, telling the Intercept that as long as Time's Up shows "neutral criteria … being applied to individuals completely independent of their running for office," its nonprofit status would not be threatened by assisting Reade.

Ruhle did not ask Tchen about the group's decision to turn down Reade's case.

Tchen said that she did not believe the media have demonstrated a double standard in their treatment of sexual assault allegations against Biden and those against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. She called media coverage of sexual assault allegations in the #MeToo era "incredible."

"I think the media, throughout the movement for the last two years, I have to say, investigative journalism has done an incredible job in digging into claims and believing women and giving them at least a form in which their allegations can be heard and listened to and investigated," Tchen said.

After Reade accused Biden of sexual assault in late March, the Deleware Democrat conducted 19 interviews without being asked to address the allegations. He finally responded to them on Friday, telling MSNBC's Morning Joe that "these claims are not true." The Biden campaign recently distributed talking points citing a New York Times report as evidence of Biden's innocence, saying the paper conducted a "thorough review" of Reade's allegations before concluding that the "incident did not happen." The Times pushed back on the campaign's assessment, saying the talking points "inaccurately suggest" that the paper's investigation exonerated Biden.

In a statement issued before Biden's MSNBC interview, the former vice president claimed that any sexual harassment complaint filed against him in the Senate would have gone through the Office of Fair Employment Practices. He said records from that office are held at the National Archives, calling on the agency to "identify any record of the complaint [Reade] alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document." A National Archives spokesman told Business Insider's Nicole Einbinder, however, that it does not hold records from that office and that any records containing "personal privacy" are closed for 50 years, meaning Reade's complaint would remain sealed until 2043 if it was filed at the time of the alleged assault.

A National Archives spokesman disputed Biden's assertion, telling the Washington Free Beacon that it does not handle such records.

"Any records of Senate personnel complaints from 1993 would have remained under the control of the Senate. Accordingly, inquiries related to these records should be directed to the Senate," the spokesman said.

*This post has been updated with a comment from the National Archives