The Intercept’s Ryan Grim discusses the latest developments in Tara Reade’s assault allegations against Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton’s endorsement.
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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
Hillary Clinton: I am thrilled to be part of your campaign, to not only endorse you, but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this Presidential election.
Jaisal Noor: Welcome to the Real News. I’m Jaisal Noor. Is it wise for the Democratic Party brass to continue to back Joe Biden, the presumptive Presidential nominee while he’s failed to address a decades old alleged sexual assault that’s been newly corroborated? Two new people stepped forward to corroborate allegations made by former Senate staffer Tara Reade, who says in 1993 then Senator Biden pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers.
Tara Reade: The next thing I remember was that night and talking to my mom and she was like, “You need to file a police report. It’s a sexual assault.” It shattered my life and changed the trajectory of my whole career and life and I lost my job after I complained and I was fired.
Jaisal Noor: The Biden Campaign has denied the claims, but evidence is mounting, including from CNN’s Larry King Live. Shortly after the alleged incident occurred, a woman who Reade says is her mother calls in to discuss her daughter’s allegations.
Speaker 4: Hello, I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there after working for a prominent Senator and could not get through with her problems at all and the only thing she could have done was go to the press and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
Jaisal Noor: Well, now, joining us to discuss this is Ryan Grim, the D.C. Bureau Chief for the Intercept, author of, We’ve Got People From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: The End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement. It’s a book akin to a people’s history of the fight against elite control of the democratic party. Thanks so much for joining us, Ryan.
Ryan Grim: Thanks for having me.
Jaisal Noor: So Hillary just endorsed Joe Biden today and he’s recently received the endorsements of even Pramila Jayapal who’s the House Progressive Caucus Co-chair, a major backer of Medicare-For-All. So her and Biden have some serious policy differences. She’s a top Sanders surrogate as well. And this is all happening at a time there’s mounting evidence corroborating claims by Tara Reade, a former staffer of Biden. Business Insider even got a former colleague and a former neighbor of Reade on the record and the former neighbor says they still intend to vote for Biden. You’ve been covering Capitol Hill, elections for a long time now. You talk about these type of incidents and how it could play out within the Democratic arty and in the Capitol in your book. What are your thoughts on these latest developments?
Ryan Grim: Sure. And her friend’s calculus is one that I think that tens of millions of people are going to make. And I think at least it’s honest and there is I think some intellectual there to say, “Look, I believe her. What Joe Biden did was wrong. On the other hand, I’m going to vote for the guy who is running against Donald Trump.” And I think if party leaders were taking some tact like that, they may actually be doing better with a lot of the skeptics of Biden’s and bias say, “Okay, well, now we’re back to making a calculation between the lesser of two evils instead of trying to affirmatively pretend that there’s a positive greatness here that we can stand behind.” That’s just not the world that we live in though and that wasn’t the direction that they were going to take.
But that means that every time there’s more corroborating evidence that Tara Reade claims are indeed credible it’s going to make news again. And right now in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of an economic crisis, in the middle of President Trump fueling both of them, there’s not going to be a lot of on air oxygen for anything Joe Biden related. And that is just fine with his campaign and it fits with, like you said, decades of kind of Democratic Party strategy to kind of be not Republicans and to try to walk backwards accidentally into the White House. Occasionally, it has worked and more often it hasn’t.
Jaisal Noor: So you helped break the story of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. The Left has responded very differently to both these instances. You reported a piece, Time’s upset it could not fund a MeToo allegation against Joe Biden citing its nonprofit status and his Presidential run. What are your thoughts on this?
Ryan Grim: Throughout political history that has been the case, that people’s interest in victims of sexual assault always peaks when it is most advantageous to their politics. The promise of MeToo was that this time was going to be different. Harvey Weinstein, massive Democratic donor, huge player in Democratic Party politics and yet he was taken down anyway. The idea was it didn’t matter what team you are on, that we were going to change the culture around this question, and extraordinary gains have been made over the last several years. But a part of this was set up for a collision in the sense that Republicans were never going to play by the rules that the MeToo movement was setting up. And so when a lot of Republicans stood behind Roy Moore, credibly, highly credibly accused of assaulting, just prowling malls and going after 13 year old girls, the most hideous stuff. A lot of Republicans kind of stick behind him and he still ran a competitive race, didn’t even drop out.
And that was happening at the same time that Al Franken was getting accused of groping women during photos that he was taking with them. I think a lot of democratic voters deeply regret the way that Al Franken resigned, the way that he went out, and that has had them turn on some elements of the MeToo movement. And so when this came around, I think people were much less willing to go forward and push it to the degree that they had before Al Franken and up to Al Franken, part because of that experience. A lot of Democrats are saying, “We’re tired of playing by different rules that Republicans are playing by.”
Jaisal Noor: So I’ve been saying for a while that Joe Biden isn’t a complete lock at this point. We’re still relatively early in the Primary process, but New York State just announced they are canceling the Presidential Primary because of the coronavirus endemic and Sanders suspending his campaign. We recently spoke to Jamaal Bowman who’s seeking to unseat a 30 year incumbent whose major backers include Wall Street, weapons manufacturers, and the Israel lobby, and he’s been critical of the Democratic Party’s response, their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaker 6: The Democratically controlled House unfortunately isn’t being led right now by Progressives. So they’ve fought for a few things that were needed but didn’t go far enough. I mean, the first bailout package focused specifically on large corporations and the wealthy and left small businesses and the working class to fend for themselves. In addition, there are still hospitals struggling to receive PPEs. There are still not enough masks. There are still not enough gloves. There’s still not enough testing with efficient, quick results. There’s still not enough testing sites. So a lot more needs to be done to put pressure on the White House to make sure that those who are most vulnerable in our district receive all of the care and all of the resources they need. And unfortunately that’s not happening right now.
Jaisal Noor: What impact could this have, and do you think these new allegations might change how the Democratic Party approaches the remaining primary?
Ryan Grim: No, I don’t think that the level of allegations that we’re at now will cause a change in the Democratic Primary election. Joe Biden is not going to drop out and he’s not going to be pressured to drop out as long as he’s 10 points up in the polls against President Trump. Now, if more people come forward and if then people start calling for him to drop out and that drives his poll numbers down, then you could see donors coming to him and saying, “We’re not financing this anymore.” But, on the current trajectory, that the campaign is going to plow right through this. They feel like they have the nomination, they’re up 10 points on Trump, and this isn’t going to derail them.
Jaisal Noor: All right, Ryan Grim. Well, thanks for joining us for our first part of this conversation and we’ll talk more about your book, We’ve Got People From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, in part two of this interview. And thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.
General Assignment Reporter
Jaisal is a host, producer, and reporter for TRNN. With his expertise in education policy and systemic inequity, he focuses on Baltimore, Maryland. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent.
Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years.