Rich McHugh, the producer who worked with Ronan Farrow at NBC News to break the Harvey Weinstein story, told the Hill he finds Tara Reade’s sexual assault claim against Joe Biden credible in a number of ways.
According to Reade, while she was working in the presumptive Democrat nominee’s Senate office in 1993, Biden assaulted her in a Senate corridor. She was in her twenties at the time, and after cornering her, she says he forced his hands under her skirt, into her underwear, and penetrated her vaginally with his fingers.
She also says she filed a sexual harassment complaint at the time.
Reade initially came forward last year with the accusation Biden caressed and touched her without her consent, something others have accused Biden of. She only recently went public with the assault allegation.
Last week, although the statute of limitations has passed, Reade filed a criminal complaint against Biden.
“I filed it because I had been harassed so badly last April,” Reade, 56, tells Business Insider Thursday. “I also wanted to make it clear that I would be willing to go under oath or cooperate with any law enforcement regarding it, because it did happen. Even if it was 26 years ago.”
Reade says she decided to go public after Lucy Flores, a Nevada politician, accused Biden of sniffing her hair and kissing the back of her head without her consent.
Biden denies any allegation of wrongdoing and refused to comment on the criminal complaint.
One of the ways the Biden camp has pushed back is with the allegation Reade changed her story and is a fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They point to social media posts and an essay she wrote in 2018 titled “Why a Liberal Democrat Supports Vladimir Putin.”
McHugh addresses this claim in his extensive interview with the Hill and brings some other information to light, including the fact that Reade’s 1993 sexual harassment complaint, something that would go a long way towards validating her claim, might be sealed with Joe Biden’s papers — which means we will never see it.
This is well worth a watch:
Here are the pertinent points:
— Reade reached out to McHugh through a Weinstein victim because she wanted an investigative journalist to examine her claim; she wanted her claim scrutinized.
— McHugh spoke to two people Reade told about the assault at the time: a friend of Reade’s and her younger brother. McHugh says he had long, detailed conversations with both and said, “They struck me as extremely credible.”
— “I drilled down with the details of the story, and they matched up with her story, with Tara’s story,” McHugh states.
— McHugh says he also spoke with an intern who worked under Reade in Biden’s Senate office at the time. She was not told about the incident, McHugh says, “But she said … in mid-April of 1993, Tara was abruptly no longer her supervisor. So the timing matches exactly with what Tara was saying.”
— “The bar for me in reporting this,” he says, is “is there corroboration, and there is corroboration.”
— Reade says the alleged sexual assault happened after the unwanted touching. It was two separate incidents, and she filed an official complaint with a Senate office about the first. That document, according to McHugh, “appears to be in the University of Delaware in Biden’s Senatorial papers, but it looks like they’re sealed.”
— McHugh found a third woman who confirmed Reade told her the story 15 years ago, which this woman described as “horrific.”
— On the issue of Putin, McHugh states that Reade told him she was in a creative writing class at the time and “trying to write a novel.” McHugh admits this is “not a good look, but it’s not enough to discredit the reporting.”
— McHugh says the Biden camp has “backed off” the Putin stuff. “When we were going forward with the story, [the Biden campaign] was saying ‘well, she’s a–‘ well, they were kinda pointing to her writings about Russia as a way to say you shouldn’t do this story. I didn’t find that credible.”
— On the issue of Reade initially coming forward with the allegation of unwanted touching and later adding the assault charge, McHugh says this is common, something he saw happen with many Weinstein victims. “A number of them didn’t come out with their full story to us at the time,” he states. “For obvious reasons they are wrestling with whether they trust you as a reporter, whether they want to go out with the full horrific story that’s going to be Google-able for the rest of their life.” He asserts many survivors have told him they did not tell their “full story at the time because they didn’t feel comfortable” and that he does not see this as an issue.
— When asked point blank if he finds her allegation credible, McHugh responds, “I’ll say this, I find it credible in that I chose to report on it. I think her allegation is worth being heard, certainly. … It checks, certainly, a number of criteria in order to report this normally. … It surpassed that.”
He adds that “publications have gone to print with far less.”