Obama team fully vetted Biden in 2008 and found no hint of former aide's allegation
By: David Axelrod (CNN)
David Axelrod, a senior CNN political commentator and host of "The Axe Files," was senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist for the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaigns. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinion articles on CNN.
When it became clear that Barack Obama would be the nominee of the Democratic Party in the spring of 2008, he commissioned a team of lawyers to begin an in-depth vetting process of potential candidates for vice president.
Dozens of women and men under consideration were reviewed. Those who rose on the list of contenders were subject to a deep-dive investigation of their strengths, vulnerabilities and, of course, any disqualifying defects. At the top of the list of those contenders was Senator Joseph R. Biden of Delaware. The comprehensive vet certainly would have turned up any formal complaints filed against Biden during his 36-year career in the Senate. It did not. The team would have investigated any salacious rumors of the sort that travel far and wide in Washington. There were none. While I was not on the vetting team, as senior strategist to the campaign, I was briefed on their work and potential problems. Read More Through that entire process, the name Tara Reade never came up. No formal complaint. No informal chatter. Certainly, no intimation of sexual harassment or assault from her or anyone else.
The team of investigators, expert in their work, would not have missed it. We need to talk about Tara Reade Reade did not surface her allegations of a criminal sexual assault when Biden was a candidate for president in 2008, nor did she offer them confidentially to the Obama vetting team when Biden emerged as a principal contender for vice president later that year. Had any credible issue been raised, you can be sure Biden would not have been the nominee. Obama would not have tolerated it, even if he and Biden were close then, which they were not. Their friendship grew only after Biden joined the ticket and through their eight-year partnership in the White House. At that time, they were distant Senate colleagues and most recently rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Our society is just now confronting a long, sordid history of disregarding accusations and silencing women who were sexually abused or assaulted. Women who come forward deserve to be taken seriously and treated with respect, and Tara Reade's story should be heard and thoroughly investigated. Get our free weekly newsletter
But it is striking that when an experienced vetting team put Biden under a microscope before he was chosen to be second-in-line for the presidency, neither her allegations, nor anything resembling them in Biden's history, showed up.