The Secretary of the Senate on Monday declined to comply with former Vice President Joe Biden’s request to “disclose any such information” pertaining to Tara Reade’s complaint of sexual harassment.
“Based on the law’s strict confidentiality requirements (Section 313) and the Senate’s own direction that disclosure of Senate Records is not authorized if prohibited by law (Senate Resolution 474, 96th Congress, Section 3(a)), Senate Legal Counsel advises that the Secretary has no discretion to disclose any such information as requested in Vice President Biden’s letter of May 1,” the office of the Senate Secretary said in a statement.
Reade, who worked as a junior staffer at Biden’s office in 1993, when he was a senator from Delaware came forward last month that she was sexually assaulted by her then-boss that year on Capitol Hill. She claimed that she did file a complaint with a personnel office on Capitol Hill about the allegations of inappropriate touching and assault to her.
On Friday, after weeks of silence, Biden publicly denied the allegation and said that such complaint, if it did exist, would be kept in the National Archives, not in his Senate records held hostage by the University of Delaware. He called on the Senate Secretary “make available to the press any such document.”
“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives,” Biden said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Friday morning. “The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
Shortly after the interview, Biden wrote a letter to the secretary of the senate, instructing the office to release any documentation related to Reade’s allegation made against then-Senator Biden in 1993 and to “make public the results of this search.”
“We had understood that the Senate stores records from this office, and from this period, in the National Archives. The Archives now states that the records would have remained under the control of the Senate,” Biden wrote. “Accordingly, I request that you take or direct whatever steps are necessary to establish the location of the records of this Office, and once they have been located, to direct a search for the alleged complaint and to make public the results of this search.”
He continued, “I would ask that the public release include not only a complaint if one exists, but any and all other documents in the records that relate to the allegation.”
NEW: Former VP Joe Biden writes letter to the Secretary of the Senate asking for a search of records regarding Tara Reade: “I request that you take or direct whatever steps are necessary to establish the location of the records of this Office.” pic.twitter.com/VzIWJqjZT4
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 1, 2020
Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel, responded to the secretary of the Senate rejection statement with follow-up questions about the possibility for a more limited release.
“Is just the existence of any such records subject to the same prohibition on disclosure?” Bauer asked, according to a statement from the campaign.
“Is there anyone, such as a complainant, to whom such records, if they exist, could be lawfully disclosed?” Bauer wrote, asking without naming Reade if the accuser might be able to obtain the records and whether the Senate could release “the procedures and related materials” for processing a complaint in 1993.
However, any formal complaint made in 1993 wouldn’t be available public until 2043 due to a Senate Resolution passed in 1980 mandating that such information made to the Senate Fair Employment Office remain private for 50 years.