During an appearance on CNN on Tuesday night, activist Stacey Abrams seemed to closely follow leaked talking points from the Joe Biden campaign regarding sexual assault accusations made by Tara Reade.
When asked by Don Lemon about the accusations, Abrams replied:
I believe that women deserve to be heard and I believe that they need to be listened to, but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources. The New York Times did a deep investigation, and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden. I believe that he is a person who has demonstrated that his love of family, his love of our community has been made perfectly clear through his work as a congressional leader and as an American leader. I know Joe Biden, and I think that he is telling the truth and that this did not happen.
As Breitbart News reported on the talking points, they say in part, “Biden believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed. In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”
They continue, “There has never been a complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct like this regarding him — ever.”
Biden’s campaign’s talking points say the Times story served as proof that Reade’s allegation “did not happen” — but the story did not conclude this, nor did it conclude that an assault definitively did happen. The Times reported that three former Senate aides, all of whom Reade said she complained to at the time, either did not remember the incident or said that it did not happen. The Times also spoke to former interns who said they did remember Reade suddenly ceasing to oversee them, aligning with Reade’s claim that she was pulled from that duty.
Additionally, Business Insider has published additional accounts the Times did not.
BuzzFeed reported, “Business Insider reporter Rich McHugh, an investigative journalist who served as a producer on Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein reporting at NBC News, has identified more people who have corroborated elements of Reade’s claim.” Those include a former neighbor of Reade and a colleague, both of whom said Reade made mention of the alleged assault.
“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” former Reade neighbor Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider. Another source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in a California state senator’s office, said she remembers Reade saying “her former boss in Washington, DC, had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns.”
Abrams, one of the women on Biden’s shortlist for vice president, isn’t the only Democrat who seems to be going off the circulated talking points. BuzzFeed said the Biden campaign began sharing the points “shortly after” the Times story on April 12.
On April 17, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told MSNBC, “[Biden] has said … you’ve got to get to the bottom of every case and all allegations. I think the New York Times — I haven’t read all the stories. I read that one. … It was very thorough. They interviewed people.”
The same day, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), another potential Biden running mate, said to the San Francisco Chronicle that she could “only speak to the Joe Biden I know. He’s been a lifelong fighter, in terms of stopping violence against women.”
“The Joe Biden I know is somebody who really has fought for women and empowerment of women and for women’s equality and rights,” Harris told the Chronicle.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said Tuesday, according to the Hill, “So when we say believe women, it’s for this explicit intention of making sure there’s space for all women to come forward to speak their truth, to be heard.”
She added, “That is what Tara Reade has done. She has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets. … Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden.”
Biden has not personally addressed Reade’s accusations. His campaign denied her claims.