David Axelrod says Obama team’s vetting of Biden didn’t find misconduct claims

Democratic strategist David Axelrod, a former top aide for President Obama’s two White House campaigns, says that Obama’s team didn’t find claims of sexual misconduct when vetting former Vice President Joe Biden.

Axelrod, who serves as political commentator for CNN, wrote a piece for the network published Friday evening weighing in on a sexual assault allegation against Biden from Tara Reade, who claims that Biden sexually assaulted her when she was a Senate staffer in 1993.

The former Obama strategist wrote that while he was not directly involved in the campaign’s vetting process for Biden, he was briefed on the findings and any potential issues that arose with those being considered for vice president.

Dozens of women and men under consideration were reviewed,” Axelrod wrote. “Those who rose on the list of contenders were subject to a deep-dive investigation of their strengths, vulnerabilities and, of course, any disqualifying defects.”

“At the top of the list of those contenders was Senator Joseph R. Biden of Delaware,” he added.

Axelrod said that the vetting process “certainly would have turned up any formal complaints filed against Biden during his 36-year career in the Senate. It did not.”

“Had any credible issue been raised, you can be sure Biden would not have been the nominee,” Axelrod said. “Obama would not have tolerated it, even if he and Biden were close then, which they were not.”

Reade publicly accused Biden of sexual assault in March, alleging that the then-Delaware senator assaulted her during her time serving as an intern supervisor in his office in 1993.

Shortly after publicly denying the allegation on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday, Biden called on the secretary of the Senate to locate any complaint filed by Reade.

Though Reade claims she filed a complaint of harassment, she did not formally report the alleged sexual assault until April of this year, when she filed a police report in Washington, D.C., meaning a previous vetting process would not have produced evidence related to the assault allegation itself.

Axelrod wrote Friday that in the Obama campaign’s vetting process of Biden, “the name Tara Reade never came up.”

“No formal complaint. No informal chatter. Certainly, no intimation of sexual harassment or assault from her or anyone else. The team of investigators, expert in their work, would not have missed it,” he said.

The Democratic strategist concluded by emphasizing that Reade’s allegation should be investigated. 

“Our society is just now confronting a long, sordid history of disregarding accusations and silencing women who were sexually abused or assaulted. Women who come forward deserve to be taken seriously and treated with respect, and Tara Reade’s story should be heard and thoroughly investigated,” Axelrod wrote. 

“But it is striking that when an experienced vetting team put Biden under a microscope before he was chosen to be second-in-line for the presidency, neither her allegations, nor anything resembling them in Biden’s history, showed up,” he added.

Tags David Axelrod Joe Biden Tara Reade

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