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Biden should address the Tara Reade allegations and release relevant records



There are, at the moment, no clear conclusions. There may never be. But that is no excuse for not searching. One place to start is the records covering Mr. Biden’s 36-year Senate career, donated to the University of Delaware in 2012 and slated for release to the public two years after Mr. Biden “retires from public life.” These could contain confirmation of any complaint Ms. Reade made, either through official congressional channels or to the three other employees she claims she informed not specifically of the alleged assault but more generally of harassment. They could also contain nothing of the sort. Insisting on an inventory doesn’t mean one believes Ms. Reade or doesn’t believe her. It signals only a desire for the public to know all that’s able to be known, which ought to be in everyone’s interest.

There are 1,875 boxes and 415 gigabytes of electronic content, largely uncatalogued. Searching won’t be as easy as some might assume. But an inventory conducted with an eye toward releasing only relevant material could at least ascertain whether personnel records are part of this archive at all. Demands for the release of the entire trove invite a worthwhile debate about candidate disclosures, yet that’s not a battle that needs to be fought today. The narrower question is whether the public ought to have as much information as possible about an assault accusation against a presidential contender, and the answer is yes.

Another place to look is at the source: the candidate himself. Mr. Biden may have little to say besides what his campaign has already said — that he did not do this, and that this is not something he ever would do. Yet the way to signal he takes Ms. Reade’s case seriously, and the cases of women like her seriously, is to go before the media and the public ready to listen and to reply.

President Trump has been credibly accused of sexual assault, including rape, by dozens of women. He has responded by brushing the accusations off, once claiming repulsively, “She’s not my type.” It may seem unfair to hold Mr. Trump’s likely rival in the 2020 race to a standard that Mr. Trump has failed to meet again and again. But Mr. Trump shouldn’t be allowed to set that standard. A better man could.

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