Updated May 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate secretary says it does not have authority to release Biden records on Tara Reade

Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The secretary of the Senate said Monday that it cannot comply with Joe Biden's request to release any documents pertaining to a sexual harassment complaint that Tara Reade allegedly made against him in 1993.

The state of play: The office said it had been advised by the Senate's legal counsel that it "has no discretion to disclose" any information pertaining to Reade because of confidentiality requirements under federal law.

  • Reade has stated she filed a written complaint with a "Senate personnel office" while working in his office as a staffer.
  • Biden said last week those records would not be with his Senate papers currently held at the University of Delaware — but at the National Archives, under the secretary of the Senate's purview.
  • He also personally addressed Reade's allegation of sexual assault for the first time, saying it "never happened."

Bob Bauer, an attorney on the Biden team, responded to the secretary's office with three questions:

  1. Is just the existence of any such records subject to the same prohibition on disclosure?
  2. Is there anyone, such as a complainant, to whom such records, if they exist, could lawfully be disclosed?
  3. Could the Senate release the procedures and related materials, including any standard forms or instructions, that the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices followed in 1993 for the intake and processing of any complaint of this kind?

The big picture: Reade told AP this weekend that even if the complaint were found, that she neither used the phrase "sexual harassment" in it nor described the alleged assault.

  • "I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable. ... I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault."
  • "I talked about sexual harassment, retaliation. The main word I used — and I know I didn't use 'sexual harassment' — I used 'uncomfortable.' And I remember 'retaliation.'"

Go deeper

The risk asset rally continues as stock market rebounds

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Risk assets have jumped over the past week and continued their rally on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 gaining for a fourth straight day and posting its highest close since March 4, while the Nasdaq ended the day just 1.4% below its all-time high.

What it means: If it hadn't been evident before, Wednesday's market action made clear that the bulls are back in charge.

Trump's troubles grow, spread

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is confronting the most dire political environment of his presidency, with his support dropping fast from Texas to Wisconsin, even among his base of religious and older voters. 

Why it matters: Top Republicans tell Axios that Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago.

Social media takes on world leaders

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Social media companies are finally beginning to take action on posts from world leaders that violate their policies, after years of letting them mostly say whatever they wanted unfiltered to millions of people.

Why it matters: Government officials are among the users most likely to abuse the wide reach and minimal regulation of tech platforms. Mounting pressure to stop harmful content from spreading amid the coronavirus pandemic, racial protests and a looming U.S. election has spurred some companies to finally do something about it.