It is certain that the “incident in the hallway” did not happen, at least as Tara Reade describes it. Whatever it was (if anything), it was certainly not a sexual assault.
Now that Biden has come out with a formal statement about Tara Reade’s allegations (in the plural, there’s more than one) and also had an interview on Morning Joe with MIka Brzezinski today, I am prepared to make some predictions: 1/54
The whole matter will destroy Tara Reade’s life because of the questionable timing of her allegations and the many inconsistencies and holes in it. 2/54
It will become an embarrassment to the metoo movement.
It will not be helpful to Biden, but it will prove to be even more damaging to Trump’s reelection campaign. 3/54
Reade’s sexual assault allegation (he threw me up against the wall — in a public corridor in the Senate office building! — and got into my panties and digitally penetrated me — is an outlier that will prove to be increasingly incredible and discrediting for Reade. 4/54
Reade made a serious blunder the other day when she insisted that Biden open up Senate files — including files from a congressional office on the Hill that handled sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations at the time of the alleged incident. 5/54
As Biden has confidently asserted, those Senate archives (which as he has said, would surely have preserved such records) will not uncover such a complaint. 6/54
Reade’s account of that office was suspect from the first. She claimed that when she recently contacted that office, she was told they had nothing and that anything like it would be in Biden’s office files if anywhere. 7/54
But *no one* in Biden’s office remembers any allegations at all about sexual harassment (a less serious charge), much less a charge of sexual assault. 8/54
And no office of that kind would have sent back paperwork on a charge of sexual harassment or sexual assault to the office of the alleged *offender* and then destroyed any copy of its own! This is complete nonsense. 9/54
Indeed, to judge from Biden’s formal statement this morning and his interview on Morning Joe with MIka Brzezenski, Biden doesn’t *remember* any “incident in the hallway” (as Reade typically refers to it).
And after listening to it, I find his denial convincing. 10/54
What, then, are we to make of Reade’s interview with Katie Halper on March 30, when Reade first alleged (publicly, anyway) that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in a corridor in the Senate Office Building? 11/54
If you listen to the interview, you will likely find (as I did) that Reade’s testimony is *emotionally* convincing, but still be full of doubts about her allegation — my principal doubt being whether it was a sexual encounter that went south rather than a sexual *assault.* 12/54
At this point, everyone on both sides of the divide seems to have assumed that there are only two possibilities to consider: either Reade is lying about *everything*, or Biden did commit sexual assault and force himself on her. 13/54
But there is a third possibility to consider — that the “incident in the hallway” was a sexual encounter of a perfectly ordinary kind.
Every day, countless men make untoward moves (sexual advances) that get rebuffed by the woman. 14/54
It was certainly inappropriate if Biden did this, but here’s the crucial point: If this is what happened (and I think it is the most that could have happened) it would not be presidential candidacy ending. 15/54
And this is why things are not going to turn out well for Reade, because her description of the “incident in the hallway,” if honest and accurate, *could* be candidacy ending.
Consequently, all important aspects of her allegation must hold up — and they don’t. 16/54
This narrative (a sexual encounter of an ordinary kind with a bad outcome) would explain important aspects of Reade’s allegation that otherwise remain inexplicable. 17/54
It would explain why Biden appears to not even remember the incident, which he almost certainly would have remembered if he had sexually assaulted Reade. (At the time, after all, he was a primary sponsor in the Senate for the Violence Against Women Act). 18/54
It would help explain why Reade has said that for her the most disturbing thing about the alleged encounter in the hallway was that after she had pushed Biden away, he had said to her: “Man, I thought you liked me. You mean nothing to me. But you’re okay, you’ll be okay.” 19/54
Significantly, Reade also says at this particular point in the Halper interview: This isn’t really about sex, it’s about male privilege and power.
That is, she is concerned to de-emphasize the sexual nature of the encounter. 20/54
But the alleged remark “I thought you liked me” shows, if anything, that it was a sexual encounter of the kind that happens between two human beings all the time.
And that would also explain the rest of the alleged comment: “You mean nothing to me.” 21/54
If — I repeat *if* — anything even remotely like what Reade has described actually happened, it would suggest that 22/54
Biden was assuring her with the alleged remark that he accepted the rebuff, that he got it that she didn’t want the attention, that he was assuring her that this would not be a thing, that he would not make a move on her again, and that everything would be okay. 23/54
The sexual encounter narrative (a sexual move by Biden, but no force and no assault) would also help explain why no sexual assault allegation by Reade has been found and why it is unlikely that one will be found. 24/54
Reade says she called her mother after the incident. Her mother allegedly told her to file a police report. Reade says she told her mother “I can’t file a police report about this!” 25/54
This is not true, of course. As Reade herself acknowledges, Congress had an office for reporting allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The procedure there would undoubtedly have involved investigations by the Capitol police (if not the DC Metropolitan police). 26/54
In other words, filing a sexual assault allegation with that office, had it been taken seriously, would inevitably have triggered a police report of some kind. 27/54
So what her alleged phone conversation with her mother suggests is that Reade didn’t file a report because she could not honestly allege a sexual assault, 28/54
and (at least in the 1990s) Reade would not have filed a complaint against Biden alleging nothing more than that Biden had made an unwanted sexual advance on her in a corridor of the Senate building. 29/54
BTW: Reade relates that before the alleged assault in the corridor, Biden was talking in that hallway with another person, who then left. So even according to Reade, it was not in any way a private setting. 30/54
This means that anyone could have suddenly rounded a corner and observed the two of them.
Given these circumstances, any allegation of sexual misconduct of any degree or kind by a Senator is scarcely credible, 31/54
and the claim that Biden threw her up against the wall and had a hand up her skirt and digitally penetrated her becomes *totally* implausible. 32/54
The purely sexual narrative would also explain why, as late as 2017, Reade was extolling Biden on Twitter for his work protecting women against violence and sexual assault — the very thing that she has accused Biden of doing, and which, she says, destroyed her life. 33/54
As late as 2017, Reade praised Biden for his action in helping stop sexual assault, not just once, but on multiple occasions.
Below, for example, Reade’s retweet appears to be commending Biden for working with Lady Gaga to end sexual assault. 34/54
Reade’s praise of Biden for his work on behalf of women is understandable if all that Reade experienced was an unpleasant, unwanted sexual advance by Biden. It is not explicable if he sexually assaulted and violated her. 35/54
(In the law, unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault and violence are treated as different things — as they surely are — and they undoubtedly play a different role in the minds and memories of the women who experience them.) 36/54
The purely sexual narrative would also help explain her brother’s testimony.
Reade’s brother hasn’t described in detail what he remembers her telling him in the 1990s, but he does say that he told her to drop the matter — because men do stupid things all the time. 37/54
True, men misjudge women all the time, but most men do not throw women up against the wall in public corridors, and stick their fingers up their vaginas. 38/54
So her brother’s testimony makes sense if viewed in the light of a purely sexual narrative of the ordinary kind. The description Reade gave of the incident on March 30 and subsequently does not. 39/54
The purely sexual narrative would also help explain why Reade wants to de-emphasize the sexual nature of the encounter. (For example, she told Halper: it’s not really about sex; it’s about male privilege and power.) 40/54
That is understandable if no sexual assault occurred, because the more sexual (and rather ordinary) the encounter was (or may have been) the less it would count as a case of sexual assault or sexual violence. 41/54
No doubt this story has legs, as they say in the media.
It also has a lot of weeds, as allegations about sexual assault and harassment tend to do. In this thread I’ve only given a hint of just how weedy it is and is likely to turn out to be. 42/54
But the political takeaway is that it is *not in Reade’s interest* to have this story go into the weeds. 43/54
Reade’s brother, her former neighbor Lynda LaCasse, and the friend who worked at the time of the alleged incident in Senator Ted Kennedy’s office will be pressured to give much more precise and accurate descriptions of what they were told at the time. 44/54
The #metoo movement activists will also be vexed, because Reade’s allegation will greatly complicate matters for them. 45/54
In the typical case (the ones the #metoo movement like to focus on), it is a he said / she said matter, and the man eventually loses because the activists’ lawyers are able to establish a pattern and practice case 46/54
that becomes not just “he said / she said,” but also “he said AND she and x number of *other*women said.” 47/54
But there is nothing like this here. The NYT investigated Reade’s allegation(s) very thoroughly, and found no evidence that Biden had ever been guilty of sexual misconduct according to any of the numerous people the NYT had interviewed. 48/54
(Making women uncomfortable with touching and invading their personal space yes, but Biden has apologized for this, and in any case that raises quite different and far less serious issues.) 49/54
Furthermore, the typical sexual *assault* case (not just cases of unwanted and rebuffed sexual advances) involves assaultive behavior in a very private setting — in a hotel room, in a closed office setting with no one else present etc. 50/54
I doubt there is a single precedent quite like this one — an allegation of sexual assault in an open corridor in a government building during working hours, when anyone could have walked by. 51/54
All of the foregoing will predictably be quite unsettling and complexifying for the #metoo movement.
It will be unsettling and complexifying for Trump, too, because with Trump, the kind of allegation made by Reade is *not* an outlier. 52/54
In fact, #metoo-ers have already signaled that they intend to put Trump under the same scrutiny that they intend to direct at both Reade and Biden.
This is bad news for Biden, but even worse news for Reade and Trump. 53/54
PS/ This links to some readings and podcasts for further information on the allegations. More references can be found in the Wikipedia article “Joe Biden sexual assault allegation” 54/54