The scandal surrounding ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) took several extraordinary turns on Tuesday as new allegations surfaced that Massa groped male staffers and behaved improperly with interns.
took to Fox television’s Glenn Beck show on Tuesday to deny the
allegations in a sometimes bizarre interview.
“No, no, no, no,” Massa said in response to questions about the
reports. “I did nothing sexual.”
He showed photos from his Navy
career to illustrate that his physical behavior with staffers was
innocuous, and held up an X-ray of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he
initially cited in his decision to retire from office.
throughout the day had attacked Massa for charging that they got rid of
him because of his opposition to their healthcare bill.
On the Beck show, Massa
acknowledged behaving inappropriately, but said the “groping” incident,
which he said occurred at his 50th birthday last September, was taken
out of context.
“Yeah, I did,” he said. “Not only did I grope
him, I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe. And they all jumped on
top of me. It was my fiftieh birthday and it was a game of kill the old guy. You can take anything out of context.”
He also said
that his chief of staff advised him to move out of a house he was
living in with other bachelor staffers because he did not deem it
“If somebody on my staff was offended...I own
that. That’s why I resigned,” he said.
The New York Democrat
said several times that he has “tickled” his staffers and his Navy
Massa credited his misbehavior but also said that he
was tired of fighting the Washington establishment of both political
“I can’t fight anymore; I can’t do it anymore,” he
House leaders have made it clear in the past two weeks
that they want to learn from the missteps of their GOP counterparts in
After learning of the allegations against Massa,
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took a hard line, warning his office
that Hoyer would tell the ethics panel of the allegations if Massa did
not within 48 hours.
Hoyer and other leaders on
Tuesday also pushed back hard against Massa’s charges. The lawmaker
savaged them and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on his way out
the door, saying House leaders pushed him out because he was opposed to
their healthcare bill and describing Emanuel as the “son of the devil’s
Hoyer called Massa’s statements “absurd” and
“absolutely untrue,” while White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said
they were “silly” and “ridiculous.”
House leaders did not
react to the new revelations about Massa, first reported by The
Washington Post Tuesday afternoon, but fretted behind-the-scenes about
their implications — both for the public perception of Congress as an
institution and for criticism over how Democrats responded to the
Massa has given several different
explanations for his resignation.
He initially said he would
not run for reelection because of his cancer, but a day later apologized
for his behavior and said he would resign.
On Sunday, Massa
had said the harassment allegations stemmed from his use of “salty
language,” or from an episode at a New Year’s Eve wedding reception at
which a male staffer suggested the married Massa should be chasing after
a bridesmaid. Massa said he grabbed the aide sitting next to him,
tousled his hair and suggested that he “should be fracking you.”
He also made the charge during that interview that House leaders were pushing him out because of his opposition to their healthcare bill.
still questioning exactly how much Hoyer knew, exactly who he told, and
whether he acted forcefully enough to stop the behavior.
That Hoyer knew at least some of the allegations against Massa recalls aspects of the Foley scandal, when GOP leaders did not immediately confront Foley about his activities and warn him of the penalties involved.
Unlike Republicans in 2006, however, Hoyer took steps that could have led to a bipartisan House ethics investigation.
By taking that action, Hoyer could avoid charges
that he didn’t act quickly, though he could also face criticism for
punting an issue to a panel known for slow-walking investigations.
ethics panel did not acknowledge it was looking into any allegations
against Massa until press reports appeared about the allegations three
weeks after Massa’s staffer notified it of the complaints. Even then,
the committee did not launch an investigative subcommittee to review the
allegations, a sign that it is taking the matter seriously.