In a move that further signals a rupture in the Democratic Party between moderates and pros backing Joe Biden and progressives who are critical of him, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) told a British Sunday paper she believes the rape accusations of Tara Reade. Reade has accused Democrat de facto presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexual assault during 1993, while she was a member of his Senate staff.
For a high profile progressive to come out for Reade and against Biden so publicly is a political dog whistle to other Democrats and moderates to do the same. Combine that with Democrat worry over Biden’s potential rhetorical performance against President Trump and Omar’s comments may be the first shots of a battle to deny Biden the Democratic nomination at the August convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I do believe Reade,” Omar told the Sunday Times of London. “Justice can be delayed but should never be denied.”
Biden has previously defended himself against the allegation by commenting on MSNBC: “Well, I think they should vote their heart and if they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade. Look at Tara Reade’s story. It changes considerably. And, I don’t want to question her motive, I don’t want to question anything other than to say the truth matters. This is being vetted, it’s been vetted, and people, scores of my employees over my whole career. This is just totally, thoroughly, completely out of character. And, the idea that in a public place, in a hallway, I would assault a woman? I mean, it’s just — I — anyway, I promise you. It never happened.”
More than one Reade associate told the media that she confided about the alleged assault to them immediately after the incident. Reade’s former lawyer Douglas Wigdor, who withdrew from the case on Friday over circumstances he claims are not related to the case, had this to say last week on Reade’s treatment by the media: “Much of what has been written about Ms. Reade is not probative of whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her, but rather is intended to victim-shame and attack her credibility on unrelated and irrelevant matters… We have and will continue to represent survivors regardless of their alleged predator’s status or politics.”
The press has scrutinized Reade far past the investigative resources it directed toward any accuser of Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearing. This has drawn charges of hypocrisy and bias from Republicans and conservatives. In that vein, ABC News reports, “(Biden) Defense attorneys are reportedly now trying to determine if the [academic] transcripts show she provided false testimony about her credentials.” The network noted that her claim of earning a B.A. from Antioch University is under probe. Reade also previously, under oath, applauded “Biden’s work for women.”
Omar’s statement could possibly be followed by other statements by progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who has also not automatically sprung to Biden’s defense on this matter, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and former Democrat presidential contenders Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
But when it comes to November, Omar herself is staying loyal to a man she believes committed sexual assault.
Believing survivors is consistent with my values. Yes, I endorsed against Biden and I didn’t pick him as our nominee. With that said, in this interview I did on May 6th, we talked about that and quotes aren’t always in context. I will vote for him and help him defeat Trump.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 25, 2020
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The momentum of Omar’s statement, as opposed to her stated current support, may start a process that could upturn current Democrat plans for the fall and result in a splintered party, much to the advantage of President Trump.