Following Joe Biden’s denial of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation in a TV interview, Time’s Up — the anti-sexual harassment advocacy group launched by Hollywood celebrities — has applauded Biden for addressing the claim head-on, while taking the opportunity to slam President Donald Trump for his lack of transparency around the multiple claims of sexual assault and harrasment against him.
In a politically-charged statement, the women’s advocacy group says Vice President Biden “addressed the allegation against him with the seriousness it deserves,” while simultaneously bringing President Trump into the conversation, noting that addressing an allegation in a serious manner is “something that the current president has never done.”
“We have reached a pivotal moment in our nation when candidates for president are accused of sexual assault,” Time’s Up said in its statement on Friday. “Today, Vice President Joe Biden sat down and directly addressed the allegation against him with the seriousness it deserves, something that the current president has never done,” the statement continued. “No longer can claims like this go ignored. Vice President Joe Biden needed to address Tara Reade’s allegation today. We call for complete transparency into this claim and the multiple claims against President Donald Trump.”
The media coverage of Biden’s allegation has become heavily politicized with conservatives slamming liberals for a double-standard, comparing the minimal coverage around Reade’s accusation to the media firestorm that surrounded Christine Blasey Ford’s assault allegation against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Critics have cited the timing of an election year when taking issue with the lack of media response to Reade’s allegations.
“As we go forward,” the statement continued, “American voters are entitled to a full understanding of all allegations of this nature. Women should be heard, treated respectfully, and have their allegations taken seriously. By no means is the conversation about sexual assault and power in America over. The painful truth is that the systems for women to pursue justice are and have always been broken. This must change. Time’s Up will continue to fight the power imbalances in America‘s workplaces and in our world.”
“We understand elections are about choices,” the statement concludes. “And until we can achieve the more perfect union we all deserve, Time’s Up will measure our leaders on their character, their records, and on the work they do supporting safety, economic equity, inclusion, and the dignity of all women.”
The statement from Time’s Up was issued on behalf of the group’s CEO Tina Tchen, a former aide to the Obamas and chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.
When responding to previous allegations against high-profile men, Time’s Up has taken a different approach. For instance, when former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils accused Matt Later of rape, the organization called the allegations “deeply troubling” and released a public statement of support for the women who accused Lauer.
Reade, a former aide to Biden, claims when he was a senator from Delaware, he pinned her up against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers. Reade said she filed a complaint, but that has not been located. Biden categorically denies Reade’s claims, stating today on “Morning Joe” that the alleged incident “never, never happened.”
“It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally, it did not happen and it didn’t,” Biden said on the MSNBC show, speaking to co-host Mika Brzezinski. “Women have a right to be heard…In any case the truth matters and, in this case, the truth is the claims are false.”
Time’s Up has a legal fund, administered by the National Women’s Law Center, which connects sexual harassment victims with attorneys who can provide legal assistance. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which has provided funding to more than 4,400 men and women, has helped accusers of Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile accusers whose sexual harassment and assault allegations fueled Hollywood headlines, ever since the #MeToo movement launched a global reckoning in 2017.
Reade approached the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund this past January for assistance when she wanted to get her story out publicly. Variety has confirmed that the organization helped provide resources to Reade, but when it became clear that Reade’s claims would become a national story involving a presidential candidate, the National Women’s Law Center informed her they would not be able to provide funding because of the potential of being accused of electioneering. The National Women’s Law Center tells Variety they continued to assist Reade by providing names of lawyers she could approach, and that they last spoke with Reade in March of this year.
Following Biden’s TV interview today, the Nation Women’s Law Center also issued a statement, echoing the sentiment from Time’s Up.
“Vice President Biden directly addressed the allegations before him head-on today — anyone running for office should do no less in the face of such serious claims. Even in the context of a presidential race, in fact especially in this context, the public is looking for leaders to be clear, transparent, and to have meaningful conversations around claims that are this serious,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.
The organization also noted the importance of believing survivors, despite political beliefs.
“It’s clear that our current systems and politics fall short,” the statement continued. “A presidential race that has barely touched on the many systemic changes that will actually be necessary to achieve change does a disservice to survivors. We must create spaces in all of our institutions where survivors can turn with claims of sexual misconduct, and we must focus on a survivor’s agenda, not a partisan one. That is what it means to ‘believe survivors’. It is a starting place to incite advocates, reporters, and lawmakers to demand more than what a broken system has to offer. It is not without process or next steps, nor is it just up to the ‘movement’ or token female figureheads to solve. It is our collective responsibility, and past good deeds by any of us cannot be a down payment for the failure of all of us to address the gaps that leave millions of survivors behind, denying them safety, accountability, and justice.”