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Tara Reade: Biden’s accuser who now wants Russian citizenship

Tara Reade, the woman who accused US President Joe Biden of sexual assault and harassment, has turned up in Moscow hoping to become a Russian citizen.

During a press conference, Reade claimed that her life was in danger and that she could have been imprisoned after making the accusations against the president, according to the The Daily Telegraph. 

“When I got off the plane in Moscow, for the first time in a very long time I felt safe, and I felt heard, and I felt respected. That has not happened in my own country,” Reade said. “I just didn’t want to walk home and walk into a cage or be killed, which is basically my two choices.”

Reade sat alongside the Russian politician Maria Butina, who was sentenced to 18 months in a US prison in 2019 for conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent. She was released and deported later that year, and now sits in the Russian parliament. 

It is the latest twist in a story that has been, according to Vox’s Laura McGann, “mired in the miasma of uncertainty”. 

Who is Tara Reade?

Tara Reade was born Tara Moulton in Monterey County, California, in 1964. In interviews with CNN in 2020, Reade “described an idyllic-sounding childhood of running around on a farm in northern Wisconsin”. She said she was “immersed in nature and fell in love with horseback riding”.

Reade has written that she was an “accomplished skier who qualified for the Junior Olympics team in downhill skiing at age 12 in Wisconsin”, said the Tampa Bay Times. The paper spoke to a stepbrother of Reade’s who doubted the account. “I’m sure Tara did, but I don’t really remember her getting some significant accolades for her performance,” said Scott Thoma, who was a year ahead of Reade in middle school, when his mother married her father.

She became a model and actress at the age of 17 and moved to California, before crossing the country to Washington in the early 1990s. 

In 1993, Reade accused Biden of inappropriately touching her when she worked as a staff aide in his senate office. She was 29 at the time. Reade told McGann that a senior aide told her Biden “liked her legs and that he wanted her to serve cocktails at a fundraiser for him”. She later complained that Biden would put his hands on her shoulder, neck, and hair during meetings in ways that made her uncomfortable, but that she was “blamed and told to dress more conservatively” when she brought the matter up with colleagues. 

Within a few months, Reade said she had lost many of her responsibilities and felt like she was being pushed out of her job, so she left. She told McGann that the story was not about sexual misconduct, but about abuse of power. 

Then, during the 2020 presidential race, when Biden was campaigning against Donald Trump, Reade made headlines with a further claim to The New York Times (NYT). She alleged that in 1993 Biden pushed her against a wall in a Capitol corridor, kissed her, and then sexually assaulted her. Biden has strongly denied all the accusations. 

Under scrutiny 

However, Reade’s credibility has come under scrutiny in recent years. In 2020, a high-profile lawyer dropped Reade as his client after a university disputed her claim of having received a degree from its campus, according to the NYT. 

Politico also claims that Reade has a history of duping and alienating people. “Over the past decade, Reade has left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in California’s Central Coast region who say they remember two things about her – she spoke favourably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.” 

“She spoke to me about Joe Biden and her experience with him,” Kelly Klett, a lawyer who rented Reade a room in her home in 2018, told Politico, but says Reade only had good things to say about the president. Klett recalled that Reade mentioned she had helped work on the Violence Against Women Act, which passed in 1994. “It was positive and in a bragging sense,” Klett said. 

Reade would often claim that she had been the victim of domestic abuse by her former husband, something he denies. In 1996, a court issued a temporary restraining order against him. The couple had a daughter together but later divorced. 

Reade remains adamant that her story is consistent and accurate and has blamed the media for misinterpreting it. Her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said: “If the assertion is that someone who has lied to their landlord because they don’t have the money to pay rent so then they lied about a sexual assault, I don’t think that is fair journalism.”

Additionally others have claimed it is it unfair to say that her contradictory statements about Biden’s character refute her allegations against him. “None of that means Reade is lying, but it leaves us in the limbo of Me Too: a story that may be true but that we can’t prove,” said Vox’s McGann.

A Russian request

In her press conference in Moscow, Reade said: “I do not see Russia as an enemy, nor do many of my fellow American citizens,” adding that she had one “large” request.

Though she wants to hold on to her US citizenship, she said she’d “like to apply for citizenship in Russia, from the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin… I do promise to be a good citizen.”

Asked to comment on Reade’s request, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said: “I won’t attempt to speak for an aspiring Russian citizen, the convicted Russian spy who’s sponsoring her or the foreign government with which she has chosen to align.”

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