Joe Biden continues to battle the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him by a former Senate aide, and for the first time, he addressed the issues personally on live television this morning. Once questions veered away from his prepared responses, however, Biden's answers raised even more questions about his past behavior in the Senate.
Biden told MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski that he absolutely did not commit the act of sexual assault in 1993 described by Tara Reade and further said that an official complaint she filed would not be found in the National Archives or his own Senate papers housed at the University of Delaware. Biden said, simply, that the papers wouldn't be there because he didn't recall anyone ever filing a complaint about him in his 30-plus years as a senator.
Brzezinski then asked Biden if he would, for transparency's sake, unseal the records at the university, which will remain under confidential seal until Biden retires from public life. At first, Biden simply said it wasn't important to unseal the records because no personnel files would be found there. If those records, including complaints made by staffers, even existed, they would be held by the National Archives. When Brzezinski pushed him to simply reveal the documents in Delaware to prove that there was nothing to hide there, the presumed Democratic candidate for president flatly refused.
"The idea that they [sealed senate documents] would be made public while I was running for public office, they could be taken out of context ... they could be fodder," Biden said in a shaky moment during the interview. Biden later offered an explanation that there were classified phone transcripts between himself and President Obama and others among the papers that he felt should not be shared.
Biden then vowed to pursue an investigation of Senate records at the National Archives to prove no such complaint exists, further saying he wouldn't allow the university or an independent research committee to review the 1,800 boxes of papers at the college.
It seems, however, that the National Archives is not responsible for the type of documents Biden said only they would have. The Archives, themselves, denied being part of the chain of custody that would point to them holding such documents.
"Joe Biden said that Tara Reade's complaint could only be at the National Archives, at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices," Business Insider reporter Nicole Einbinder wrote. "But, a National Archives spokesperson told me that they do not hold records from that office."
Instead, a Senate Historical Office staffer said the Fair Employment Practices records are governed by a Senate resolution mandating that "records containing personal privacy, information closed by statute, and records of executive nomination are closed for 50 years." pic.twitter.com/xUVyfnQP2H— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
Biden's campaign has said that they want "rigorous vetting" of Reade's allegations against the former senator and vice president but have not specifically acknowledged the decades worth of records that are off-limits at the University of Delaware. But the university says that the campaign has personally been interested and has seen the documents in the last year. Business Insider reported:
The campaign itself is curious about what is in those boxes and has dispatched operatives on at least one occasion to search through them, Insider has learned. Andrea Boyle Tippett, a spokeswoman for the University of Delaware, confirmed to Insider that people from the campaign have accessed the collection since Biden announced his presidential campaign in spring 2019. She added that the University of Delaware's library closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus and no one from the Biden campaign has gone to the library since its closure.
The question of Biden's guilt about being a sexual assaulter has suddenly been overshadowed by the mystery surrounding the 1,875 sealed boxes of documents in Delaware that only his campaign has seen. As the National Archives have pointed out, there is almost no chance that a complaint against Biden of any kind would be located within their records, despite his assurance that any complaint would be there.
According to congressional testimony from 1995, 479 people contacted the office between 1992 and 1995 seeking assistance. Of those, only 102 entered the office's five-step "dispute resolution" process, which included a formal complaint and hearing.— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
If the complaint doesn't exist in the Archives and isn't among Biden's top-secret papers in Delaware, what is he concealing from the public? It stands to reason that feeding more mystery to a hungry media at an uncertain time is exactly the opposite of what Biden hoped to accomplish with his Friday interview.