In an exclusive interview with Megyn Kelly, Tara Reade detailed her “cruel” encounter with then-Senator Joe Biden in 1993 and her accusation of sexual assault, calling on the presumed Democratic nominee to drop out of the presidential race.
Among the takeaways from the interview: Reade said she is willing to go under oath regarding her accusation, is leaving the Democratic Party, and accused the Biden campaign of “hypocrisy.”
The 42-minute conversation, which was released on YouTube and Instagram Friday, is the first on-camera interview that Reade has done since Biden “unequivocally” denied the accusation on “Morning Joe” last week.
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign has not responded to TheWrap’s request for comment about the interview.
Here are eight takeaways from the interview:
1. Reade calls on Biden to drop out of the presidential race
In excerpts of the interview first released on Thursday, Reade said she wanted Biden to “be held accountable” and wished that the former Vice President would drop out of the presidential race.
“You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please, step forward and be held accountable. And if you feel that you can address this in a real way, then you know, and I know, that you should step down. You’re not, you should not be running on character for the President of the United States,” Reade said.
“You want him to withdraw?” Kelly asked.
“I wish he would. But he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally,” Reade responded.
Earlier, Kelly asked whether Reade was politically motivated in coming forward with her account, given that she had previously supported Bernie Sanders and Marianne Williamson.
“I think everything’s political,” Reade said. “But this is deeper than that. This is about watching the person that assaulted me be elevated to the highest office in the land. He is running on a platform of character and I just found that gross. I know what he’s like. I experienced what he was like and I wanted people to know.”
2. Reade says she’d “absolutely” be willing to face cross-examination under oath
Drawing a comparison to Christine Blasey Ford, who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, Kelly asked if Reade would be willing to go under oath and face cross-examination regarding her allegation against Biden.
“Absolutely,” Reade said. But as for a polygraph test, Reade said she’d only be willing to get that test if Biden did so as well.
“I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph. What kind of precedent does that set for survivors of violence? Does that mean we’re presumed guilty and we all have to take polygraphs? So, I will take one if Joe Biden takes one. But I’m not a criminal,” Reade said.
3. Reade says she’s been harassed by Biden’s “surrogates”
Since coming forward with her accusation, Reade said she’s been attacked online by some of Biden’s “surrogates.”
“It’s been stunning, actually, how some of his surrogates … have been saying really horrible things about me and to me on social media. He hasn’t himself, but there’s a measure of hypocrisy with the campaign saying it’s safe. It’s not been safe,” Reade said.
“All my social media’s been hacked. All my personal information’s been dragged through. Every person that maybe has a gripe against me, an ex-boyfriend or ex-landlord, or whatever it is, has been able to have a platform, rather than me, talking about things that have nothing to do with 1993,” she continued. “These are serious things. And his campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely. I have not been able to experience that.”
4. Reade recounts her alleged assault: “It was cruel”
Reade said she was asked to bring a gym bag to Biden when she was working in his Senate office in 1993, adding that the encounter “happened very quickly” and within a span of fewer than three minutes.
“I remember being pushed up against the wall and thinking, the first thought I had was, ‘Where’s the bag?’ Which is an absurd thought, but that’s what I thought,” she said. “He had his hands underneath my clothes, and it happened all at once. So, he had one hand underneath my shirt and the other hand, I had a skirt on, and he went down my skirt and then went up. And I remember I was up almost on my tippy toes and when he went inside the skirt, he was talking to me at the same time and he was leaning into me and I pulled … away from his head.”
She said Biden was kissing her “neck area,” asked her in a whispered and low voice if she wanted to “go somewhere else” and said, “I want to f— you.”
“He said it low, and I was pushing away, and I remember my knee hurting because our knees, he had opened my legs with his knee and our knee caps clashed, so I felt this sharp pain,” she said. “His fingers were inside of my private area, my vagina, and it wasn’t, there was no small talk. … It was just sudden, and it was happening like that.”
As she was pulling away, Reade said that Biden “pulled back immediately” when he saw she “wasn’t complying” and was “tensed up.”
“He pulled back and looked at me and said, ‘Come on man, I heard you like me,'” Reade recalled. “When he said that, I immediately started thinking what I did, like how I brought this on. Did I say something to somebody? Did I give an impression? I just — my mind was racing. And in that moment, I knew this was really bad.”
She said that she could feel Biden’s anger and “hostility” at that moment. “He was just looking at me directly and he said, he pointed his finger at me and he said, ‘You’re nothing to me. You’re nothing,'” she said. “And I think that’s the hardest thing and I know people talk about the assault, but his words — those words — stayed with me my whole life. And as I’ve been trying to tell my story and kind of been torn apart trying to tell it, those words come back. … It was cruel.”
5. Reade says she’s leaving the Democratic Party and is “upset” and “angry” with Democratic politicians who have “dismissed” her
“It makes me upset, it makes me angry, because those are people that I respected, some of which I voted for or worked with in some capacity when I was on the Hill,” Reade said of Democratic politicians who have rejected her account. “But I want other survivors to know that they can come forward, and when they see this sort of onslaught, this sort of partisanship, it’s very discouraging. So we can come forward unless it’s a Democrat? Is that the message we’re sending?”
Reade said she was leaving the Democratic Party but won’t be part of “any” political party, including the Republican Party.
“I feel politically homeless,” she said.
6. Reade says she didn’t mention sexual assault in the complaint because she was “afraid of losing my position”
Reade said that when she filed a written complaint, she didn’t mention the alleged assault and did not retain a copy of the form.
“I doubt I used the word sexual harassment. I did not talk about the sexual assault at all. I only talked about the retaliation as well, because at that point, I was really afraid of losing my position,” she said.
The complaint has not yet surfaced publicly. Biden has called for a review of his papers from the National Archives — which has said it doesn’t have them — and requested that the Senate release any document pertaining to a complaint from Reade. But the secretary of the Senate said it had “no discretion” to do so.
“I think that says it all. And I think once we get the document, we’ll see what it says,” Reade said.
7. How Megyn Kelly got the interview
The former Fox News and NBC News host said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Thursday that Reade had approached her first. Kelly, alongside former NBC News producer Rich McHugh, flew to Northern California on Wednesday to shoot the interview in an undisclosed hotel suite.
“It was emotional, it was powerful, and I asked her all the tough questions,” Kelly told the Daily Beast. She declined to comment on whether she thought Reade’s account was credible.
“I’m not going to opine on that,” Kelly said. “That’s for the viewers to decide.”
8. Tara Reade’s new attorney
On Thursday, as Kelly and McHugh sent out messages on their social media accounts teasing the upcoming interview, attorney Douglas Wigdor — who also represents six of Harvey Weinstein’s victims — sent out an email to reporters announcing that he was now representing Reade.
In the interview with Kelly, Reade had said she didn’t have any lawyers of public relations representatives assisting her at the time.
Though Wigdor supported Trump in the 2016 election, he said that his representation of Reade was a “continuation” of the firm’s “objective support of all legitimate victims.”
“It is inevitable that partisan politics will lead people to attack our firm and Mr. Wigdor specifically, particularly given his support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Wigdor’s email said. “However, any objective view of Mr. Wigdor’s career and the history of the Firm (which is comprised of partners, lawyers and staff from all political parties) belie such a false narrative and make clear that our representation is simply a continuation of our objective support of all legitimate victims.”
Watch the full interview above.