A Joe Biden advocate has called for journalists to be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) due to their reporting on Tara Reade‘s sexual assault allegation against the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Lindy Li helped lead Joe Biden’s Asian-American outreach team and is a delegate candidate for the 2020 Democratic National Convention on Biden’s slate.
“Now that Tara Reade’s story has completely imploded, I hope the @FBI investigates [Current Affairs‘ Nathan J. Robinson, Rolling Stone‘s Katie Halper and The Intercept’s Ryan Grim] for their role in this fraud,” Li tweeted on Saturday. (The original tweet used each journalist’s Twitter handle.) “Tara or whatever your actual name is, you have gravely harmed real #metoo survivors.”
— Lindy Li (@lindyli) May 2, 2020
Biden campaign deputy communications director Bill Russo disavowed Li after this article was originally published.
“To be clear, you do not speak for this campaign and are not representing our values with comments like this,” Russo said in a tweet directed at Li. “If you really support the Biden campaign, you would do well to see the VP’s recent comments about how we respond with dignity and respect.”
Li’s attack on the press was also widely ridiculed:
I don’t think this would be a good idea. pic.twitter.com/xx6TIqa3wp
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) May 2, 2020
Only after the FBI investigates you for treason. Has Joe seen this? pic.twitter.com/brbHnxhBgo
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) May 2, 2020
It’s unclear what Li is specifically referring to, but many Biden supporters have recently taken solace in the former Delaware senator’s categorical denial of Reade’s allegation during a Friday appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Li’s immediately earlier tweets may offer some insight into her perspective on Reade’s claims and what exactly her anti-media tweet concerned.
“#BREAKING: Tara Reade canceled her interview with Chris Wallace that was set to air on Fox News tomorrow morning,” Li tweeted mid-afternoon on Saturday. “Also, now she’s saying she filed a complaint on the clipboard attached to the fridge in the Senate cafeteria?!”
#BREAKING: Tara Reade canceled her interview with Chris Wallace that was set to air on Fox News tomorrow morning
Also, now she’s saying she filed a complaint on the clipboard attached to the fridge in the Senate cafeteria?!
— Lindy Li (@lindyli) May 2, 2020
Li also retweeted a story from the Associated Press which contained a vague description of the nature of the complaint Reade claims to have filed with Biden’s Senate office in 1993. That AP tweet reads: “Tara Reade says a Senate report she filed against Joe Biden didn’t refer to sexual harassment or assault.”
The vagueness of the headline was quickly criticized as suggesting that Reade did not, in fact, mean to complain about alleged sexual harassment or alleged sexual assault in her complaint. The AP report itself, however, is clear that Reade’s complaint simply does not use the exact phrases “sexual harassment” or “sexual assault.”
Li, like many Biden backers on Twitter, took the AP‘s vague language and ran with it in an attempt to poke holes in Reade’s story.
“Guys, what version of her story are we on right now?” Li captioned her retweet of the AP article. “I’ve lost track.”
Grim, one of those targeted by Li’s outburst, drily noted that the AP eventually recognized their error and updated the story’s headline:
The AP changed its headline, so maybe call the cops back and tell them to stand down for now. She described sexual harassment but didn’t use the term. pic.twitter.com/LWREqU864n
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) May 2, 2020
The call for law enforcement to investigate Robinson, Halper and Grim is unlikely to be followed up on. While the FBI has been accused of having a less than stellar track record for respecting the First Amendment, the bureau is not known for prosecuting journalists in the manner Li is requesting.
While Grim and Halper mocked Li’s demand for the literal policing of dissent, at least one of subjects of the Biden apparatchik’s call for an investigation was none too amused.
“Hey look it’s an official @JoeBiden campaign surrogate calling for me to be investigated by the FBI!” Robinson noted. “Is the Biden campaign’s official position that those who cover the sexual assault allegation against him should be subject to criminal investigation? Or will they denounce this?”
However, Biden himself said on MSNBC on Friday — before the tweets in question — that claims of Reade’s nature should be investigated and vetted by journalists.
BIDEN: Look, from the very beginning, I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claims seriously when she steps forward — and then vetted. Look into it. That’s true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters, and in this case, the claims are false.
Li is not new to the spotlight for her pro-Biden advocacy.
As Law&Crime and Vanity Fair previously reported, Li lost her job as treasurer of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats in February after tweeting out a doctored video of Biden’s then-opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
[image via Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]
Editor’s note: this article has been amended post-publication to include a response from Biden’s campaign.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]