The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden addresses Tara Reade allegations: 'This never happened'

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail.

LEADING THE DAY:  Biden addresses Tara Reade allegations: ‘This never happened’

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE for the first time on Friday publicly denied allegations from Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who says the then-senator sexually assaulted her in 1993.

Reade is one of several women who came forward last year to accuse Biden of inappropriate touching. On March 25, she alleged publicly for the first time that Biden had also sexually assaulted her in an empty corridor on Capitol Hill.

Biden denied the allegations in a statement.

“They aren’t true. This never happened,” he said. 

Biden pointed to what he described as “inconsistencies” in Reade’s testimony, saying her story had “changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.”

Reade has said that she notified three of Biden’s senior aides about his touching at the time. Biden noted that all three have gone on the record to say that Reade did not confront them about the issue.

Reade will go on Fox News this Sunday to discuss her allegations.

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In addition to the statement, Biden sat for a lengthy and at times uncomfortable interview with MSNBC’s Mika BrzezinskiMika Emilie BrzezinskiThe Memo: Trump’s Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies Fox’s Perino presses Trump official on Scarborough tweets: ‘How does this help the president win?’ Cheney says Trump should stop tweeting Scarborough conspiracy MORE.

Biden was not asked about a former neighbor of Reade’s who came forward this week to say that the former aide told her about the allegations of assault at the time.

But Brzezinski challenged Biden to release his public records, which are being held at the University of Delaware and will not be released until two years after Biden has retired from public life.

Biden repeatedly refused, saying that any personnel complaint that was filed would be kept at the National Archives. He then called on the National Archives to do a review.

But Reade has said she believes the complaint is in Biden’s Senate records at the university. Biden says he does not believe any such complaint exists, but he refused under questioning from Brzezinski to authorize a search of the records for mentions of Reade’s name.

Expect to hear a lot about Biden’s Senate records as the campaign season matures.

One other area that Biden struggled to address was why he and Democrats made the case that all women should be believed when Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat Judd Gregg: A government in free fall The 7 most anticipated Supreme Court decisions MORE faced allegations of assault during his confirmation hearing.

Brzezinski on Friday read Biden’s own statement back to him, in which he said: “You’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”

“Are women to be believed unless it pertains to you?” Brzezinksi asked Biden.

Democrats are in a bind over this.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE is already decrying what he and many Republicans view as a double standard in the way Democrats and the news media have treated the allegations against Biden and Kavanaugh.

“I look at the double standard. You look at Biden and nobody even wants to bring up the subject,” said Trump. 

READ MORE:

Democrats say Biden interview won’t make Reade story go away, by Amie Parnes.

Biden addresses Reade story for the first time, by Jonathan Easley.

FROM THE TRAIL:

Fears are growing over whether the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will be thrust into the partisan debate over mail-in voting ahead of November’s general election.

Democrats are pushing for more funding for vote-by-mail ballots, arguing it could offset concerns over crowded polling stations. President Trump on the other hand threatened to block emergency COVID-19 assistance for the Postal Service if it did not hike up its prices to cover a growing hole in its budget that could see the agency run out of money by the end of the fiscal year. Max Greenwood reports.

PERSPECTIVES:

Renee Knake: With Biden’s VP shortlist, women are finally gaining political ground.

Andrew Sullivan: Biden is guilty by his own standards.

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FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE threw her support behind California State Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D) in her race against former U.S. Navy Fighter Pilot Mike Garcia (R). The race, which will fill former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE’s (D) House seat, is narrowly contested. The Cook Political Report moved the race from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up.” The entirely vote-by-mail election will be held on May 12. Julia Manchester reports.

MONEY WATCH:

The American First Action PAC released a new ad attacking Biden on Friday as part of its “Beijing Biden campaign.” The $10 million ad buy aims to paint the former vice president as being too close with China.

The ads, which will air in the crucial swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, feature mostly Obama-era clips of Biden talking about China. However, one of the more recent clips shows the presumptive Democratic nominee saying “banning all travel will not stop it” when the president closed the country’s borders to China over the rising coronavirus pandemic. The Hill’s J. Edward Moreno reports.

POLL WATCH:

GALLUP — TRUMP APPROVAL

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Approve: 49% (+6)

Disapprove: 47% (-7)

IBD-TIPP NATIONAL POLL

Trump: 43%

Biden: 43%

MEREDITH COLLEGE POLL — NORTH CAROLINA
Biden: 47%

Trump: 40%

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

May 2:

Kansas Democratic primary

May 12:

Nebraska primaries

May 19:

Oregon primaries

May 22:

Hawaii Democratic primary

June 2:

Delaware primaries

District of Columbia primaries

Indiana primaries

Maryland primaries

Montana primaries

New Mexico primaries

Pennsylvania primaries

Rhode Island primaries

South Dakota primaries

June 9:

Georgia primaries

West Virginia primaries

June 23:

Kentucky primaries

July 7:

New Jersey primaries

July 11:

Louisiana

July 14:

Alabama Republican Senate primary runoff

August 11:

Connecticut primary

August 17-20:

Democratic National Convention

August 24-27:

Republican National Convention

ONE HOPEFUL THING 

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: British rock band Queen teamed up with their lead vocalist and pop singer Adam Lambert to tweak the band’s iconic hit “We Are The Champions” to “You Are The Champions” in a show of gratitude to front line workers.

“It’s really a song about overcoming obstacles. It’s a song about, you know, defying the odds. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now,” Lambert said.

Reuters reports that band members recorded the song on mobile phones from their respective lockdowns in London, Cornwall and Los Angeles.

The group is coordinating with Queen’s late lead singer Freddie Mercury’s estate to donate the proceeds from the song to the World Health Organization’s fund for health workers.

We’ll see you all tomorrow for the latest campaign news and updates.

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