Rich McHugh, the producer at NBC News who helped reporter Ronan Farrow break the Weinstein story that the network allegedly tanked, believes the sexual assault allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden to be credible.
Speaking with The Hill’s “Rising” podcast on Tuesday, McHugh said that Tara Reade’s allegation that then-Senator Joe Biden sexually assaulted her while she was working in his offices in 1993 had far more evidence to support it than other allegations that news organizations have run with. McHugh detailed Reade’s account in a Business Insider article last Friday.
According to McHugh, Reade not only reached out to him in March asking he investigate the story, she also had him interview her brother and friend, both of whom confirmed that she told them about the assault after it happened. McHugh also interviewed a former Biden intern who confirmed that Reade was removed from her post, which corresponds with her account of being demoted shortly after the incident.
“They struck me as incredibly credible people,” McHugh said on the podcast. “These were not short conversations. I drilled down on the details of the story and they matched up with her story.”
“The bar for me in reporting this: is there corroboration, and there is corroboration,” he added.
Regarding Reade’s claim that she filed a complaint with the Senate about her retaliatory firing (not the harassment), McHugh said those documents are sealed. “It appears to be at the University of Delaware with Biden’s senatorial papers, but it looks like they’re sealed,” he said. “So that’s a question mark.”
Speaking Business Insider last week, Tara Reade said that filed a criminal complaint against Joe Biden despite the statute of limitations being in place.
“I filed it because I had been harassed so badly last April,” she said. “I also wanted to make it clear that I would be willing to go under oath or cooperate with any law enforcement regarding it, because it did happen. Even if it was 26 years ago.”
Interestingly, McHugh noted that the Biden campaign initially tried to imply Reade was some sort of a Russian asset, which he found suspicious. “[The Biden campaign people] were kinda pointing to her writings about Russia as a way to say you shouldn’t do this story. I didn’t find that credible,” he said.
In the end, McHugh found Reade’s story credible enough to report on it. “I’ll say this, I find it credible in that I chose to report on it,” he said. “I think her allegation is worth being heard, certainly. … It checks, certainly, a number of criteria in order to report this normally. … It surpassed that.”
Actress Alyssa Milano, a long-time friend of Joe Biden, who firmly believed Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite her having an even weaker case of sexual assault, has said the vice president should be given “due process.”
“I have not publicly said anything about this; if you remember, it kind of took me a long time to publicly say anything about Harvey (Weinstein) as well, because I believe that even though we should believe women, and that is an important thing, and what that statement really means is like, for so long, the go-to has been not to believe them,” said Milano. “So really, we have to sort of societally change that mindset to believing women. But that does not mean at the expense of not giving men their due process.”