Biden's interview with Mika looked okay but was, in fact, a train wreck
Friday morning, Joe Biden sat down for an interview with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Mika asked some hard-hitting questions about Tara Reade's allegation that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993.
Biden looked unusually alert and tracked fairly well for most of the interview until he got tired and confused (at the 14-minute mark). More disturbing than that were the misrepresentations and elisions that made it appear as if he were answering the questions when, in fact, he wasn't. Most surprisingly, Biden insisted that it would be better for him if nobody could see his records before the election.
Biden began by doing what he had to, which was unequivocally denying that he assaulted Reade:
No, it is not true. I am saying unequivocally it never, never happened, and it didn't. It never happened.
Immediately after that, he made a catastrophic misstep when Mika asked two questions in quick succession:
Do you remember her? Do you remember any — any types of complaints that she might have made?
Biden's answer is telling:
I don't remember any type of complaint she may have made. It was 27 years ago, and I don't remember, nor does anyone else that I'm aware of, and the fact is that I don't remember. I don't remember any complaint ever having been made.
As you can see, Biden ignored the first question. By doing so, Biden avoided having to comment about Reade, protecting himself from misstatements that could come back to haunt him. More importantly, his dismissing the first question reminds us what Reade said Biden told her after the assault: "You're nothing to me." Biden's failure to answer whether he remembered Reade points to that statement being true.
Biden also struggled to explain away his unquestioning faith in the truth of Christine Blasey Ford's vague, changeable, and uncorroborated allegations:
For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you've got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she's talking about is real ...
Biden repeatedly said that in 2018, he meant only that women's claims should not be dismissed out of hand but, instead, that "the press should rigorously investigate claims [women] make."
This is an especially bad defense because Biden was behind the Obama administration's push to strip all due process protections from men at colleges and universities who were accused of sexual wrongdoing. The standard on campuses became "guilty until proven innocent," although the men were routinely denied the chance to prove that innocence.
Biden also hurt himself with his emphatic statement that no one was going to be allowed into his University of Delaware records. He insisted that the only place to look for personnel records relating to Reade's allegations is the National Archives. This is false, and Biden, who was in the Senate for decades, and who has a staff struggling to clean up after him, knew or should have known this.
The Senate exempted itself from public records laws, probably because it would reveal just how abusive senators have been — abusive enough that taxpayers have paid $17 million in secret settlements. This Twitter thread explains Biden's dishonest insistence that the National Archives will prove his innocence:
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. But, a National Archives spokesperson told me that they do not hold records from that office.— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
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
That staffer said that rules for filing a complaint to the Office of Fair Employment Practices were complicated and that it was possible that a staffer attempting to do so without proper guidance may not have taken the necessary steps to get an investigation started.— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
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 Reade's complaint was filed to the Office of Fair Employment Practices, the record will remain closed until 2043 — more than two decades from now.— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
It's also important to note that Reade isn't just looking for the complaint. She has other reasons for wanting the University of Delaware to unseal the records: pic.twitter.com/FUXdj3tUU2— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
Full story here: https://t.co/Buo3FR8R26— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
Perhaps the most amazing thing Biden said was that he would not release his University of Delaware records. When Mika suggested that someone just search through the documents for Reade's name, Biden visibly panicked and went utterly silent for several seconds. Then he said no one could look at the records because they would reveal information to voters about his political history. In other words, he wants to hide from the voters the information that is most useful to them.
Because, look, the fact is that there's a lot of things, of speeches I've made, positions I've taken, interviews that I did overseas with people, all of those things relating to my job, and the idea that they would all be made public in the fact while I was running for public office, they could be really taken out of context. They're papers or position papers, they are documents that existed and that ... when I met, for example, when I met with Putin or when I met with whomever, and all of that could be fodder in a campaign at this time.
The interview was also noteworthy for what Mika didn't address: the contemporaneous corroboration for Reade's account (her brother, a friend, her mother's phone call to Larry King, her neighbor, and a co-worker), and the eight other women who made complaints about Biden's chronic inappropriate touching. Mika merely managed to get on the record Biden's denial, his contention that women should be believed except when they shouldn't, and his insistence that people should look for information in a place in which such information can't possibly be found.
The fact that Joe Biden managed to stay alert for almost the entire 17 minutes he was on the hot seat should not comfort his supporters. He still hurt himself badly.