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Secretary of Senate rejects Biden request to search for Tara Reade complaint

Joe Biden denies Tara Reade allegations
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade allegations 02:34

The secretary of the Senate has rejected Joe Biden's request to search for a record of a complaint lodged against him by a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, who has accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of sexual assault. 

After consulting the Senate legal counsel, the secretary of the Senate said that under the statute governing the Senate Fair Employment Practices, Biden's request would be denied.

"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 secretary's response said. The response cited the "strict confidentiality requirements" of the law, as well as "the Senate's own direction that disclosure of Senate Records is not authorized if prohibited by law." It is not yet clear whether Reade could request that her personnel records be released.

The Biden campaign, through attorney Bob Bauer, who is helping to lead the vetting of Biden's running mates and who is the former White House counsel for President Obama, responded to the secretary to ask whether the mere existence of the records is "subject to the same prohibition on disclosure" and whether the records could be disclosed to "anyone, such as a complainant." He also asked whether the Senate could release information about the way such complaints were taken in and processed in 1993. 

Reade told CBS News that she and her daughter have been dealing with death threats in the last few days. She is communicating with law enforcement and says her priority at the moment is securing her safety and the safety of her daughter. 

In the late March interview in which Reade first alleged that Biden had sexually assaulted her, she said she filed what she referred to "a form." 

"After the assault, I went outside, you know, the sphere of the office, for help," she said on Katie Halper's podcast. "And that's when I sought out that little room that I filled out a form — it was just a form." According to the Associated Press, which spoke to Reade on Friday, the "intake form" Reade filled out at the Senate personnel office "included her contact information, the office she worked for and some broad details of her issues with Biden."

Reade told CBS News on Friday that she filed an "intake form" with the Senate personnel office detailing her issues with Biden. 

The form, if it emerges, will not include her allegation that Biden sexually assaulted her, Reade told CBS News. She said she stopped short of describing the assault, but said the complaint details allegations of sexual harassment against Biden and workplace retaliation. Reade said she described Biden's "inappropriate behavior" that made her "uncomfortable", including how he wanted her to served drinks at a party because "he told people he liked my legs." 

Reade says she put her contact information on the form, but the office never followed up with her complaint. 

She does not have a copy of her complaint but said recently that she believes that the University of Delaware has a copy of it because Biden donated his Senate papers to the school.

"I'm calling for the release of the documents being held by the University of Delaware that contain Biden's staff personnel records because I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents," Reade said in an interview with Fox News last week.

On Friday, when Biden was asked during an MSNBC "Morning Joe" interview about releasing the records, which are under seal until two years after he leaves office, he expressed resistance to the idea because he fears other information contained in the records might be used as a political weapon against him. He also said in a statement that the records held by the university library "do not contain personnel files." What he sent to the university includes material documenting "speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills," he wrote.

Instead, he suggested that the National Archives might have a copy of the complaint and said he would ask the secretary of the Senate to look for a record of the complaint and make it available. "If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there," Biden's statement said. 

The National Archives, however, said personnel documents would not be under the control of the archives. "Any records of Senate personnel complaints from 1993 would have remained under the control of the Senate. Accordingly, inquiries related to these records should be directed to the Senate," it said in a statement. 

Alan He contributed reporting.

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