Former vice president Joe Biden was unequivocal Friday as he addressed the allegation that he sexually assaulted a Senate staffer nearly three decades ago: “It never, never happened,” he said in an interview Friday on MSNBC.

But then Biden took it two steps further:

  1. He said he believes that his accuser, Tara Reade, never filed any sort of complaint about him.
  2. To prove it, he urged the National Archives, where he says his personnel records would probably be located, to release any kind of complaint from Reade. “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” he said, later adding, “I’m confident there’s nothing.”

In other words, Biden left no room for nuance about what happened, even after recent weeks have brought forward new reports with details that could corroborate Reade’s account. The most notable comes from a former neighbor of hers in California who said that a few years after Reade worked in Biden’s office, Reade described the assault to her. “I believed Tara at the time she told me that Mr. Biden assaulted her, and I continue to support her now,” Lynda LaCasse told The Washington Post in a text message.

In the days following those new reports, a number of high-level Democratic women have publicly stood with Biden. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she was “satisfied” with his response.

But if they were looking for more reassurance, Biden just tried to inspire confidence, specifically for anything related to Reade. He was also unwavering about what people might find in those papers: He did not even allow for the possibility that Reade may have filed a complaint about him for other issues.

A year before Reade made the assault allegation, she told The Post and other news outlets that Biden made her feel uncomfortable by putting his hand on her neck and shoulders. She did not mention anything about sexual assault.

A complaint Reade filed against Biden from 1993 would be a significant piece of evidence. Reade has said she complained to supervisors and was let go. She told The Post that she filed a complaint with a congressional employment office about her treatment in Biden’s office. Critically, she said she did not mention the assault allegation, and she has also given varying reasons for her departure from his office. But if any record of a complaint by her exists, she would almost certainly be on the record as having said something about Biden’s treatment of her around the time of the incident.

Reade said she does not have a copy of the complaint, and The Post could find no record of it. The office she probably would have filed a complaint with has since morphed into a different office.

Biden says if such a record exists, it would be in the National Archives. There is also a huge archive of documents of Biden’s decades-long career in public office at the University of Delaware. The university is in the process of sorting through that, and it is sealed until two years after Biden leaves public life.

On Friday, Biden said the papers in Delaware contain his public speeches and papers, and transcripts of private conversations with world leaders, not personnel documents related to the management of his Senate office. He declined to release them, saying they could be taken out of context in the midst of a presidential campaign. And he seemed perplexed at the suggestion that he have someone search those papers for anything with Reade’s name on it. As The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes, it’s possible that the Biden team has already scoured the University of Delaware trove.

The university in its comments Friday morning said members of Biden’s team did review the documents in 2019. Reade had been one of several women who came forward alleging inappropriate touching in the spring of that year, so it’s possible the campaign might have looked for such records, though Biden didn’t say as much Friday. The university said no members of Biden’s staff had accessed the files this year, which would include the period after Reade made a more serious allegation of sexual assault.

That may be a political sticking point for Biden going forward, whether he’ll allow a search of his documents in Delaware since the large cache of papers and electronic documents could have some kind of corroborating evidence of a complaint — or of a lack of one.

But Biden just tried to squelch the need for that by offering to open up the past management of his office for scrutiny, specifically for anything related to Reade.