Bill Press: Unequal on sex charges

Bill Press: Unequal on sex charges
© Greg Nash

It’s hard to argue with what Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSchumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana Navy, Marines chiefs say no morale issues with transgender troops Dem senators call on FCC to protect against robocalls MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierFarenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him Dem lawmaker calls on Fox News to fire Hannity Dems want Mattis to reveal experts behind Pentagon transgender policy MORE (D-Calif.) and Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosWe need more women in STEM — Aviation may be the key Rural Democrats deserve a better farm bill Lawmakers trade barbs, torch Trump at DC soiree MORE (D-Ill.) say about the issue of sexual harassment: “When it comes to sexual assault, harassment, and the general mistreatment of women, we must be able to call out anyone, Democrat or Republican.”

After being ignored or vilified for so many years, the fact that women victims are being listened to today with accounts of sexual misconduct by men in power only makes sense if their charges are taken seriously, regardless of political party. Sadly, that’s not the case. Republicans still don’t seem to get the point.

Compare how leadership handled recent reports of congressional misconduct. Fifty-two year veteran Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersDem hoping to replace Conyers pushes Trump impeachment Did California's Ro Khanna get duped by Russia's propaganda? Met opera fires conductor after sexual misconduct probe MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) flatly denied charges of sexual harassment leveled against him by several women. Nonetheless, after waffling for a couple of days, Democratic leaders Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos MORE (Calif.), Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse consumed by leadership races Hoyer: Dems eyeing ways to roll back GOP tax law Trump order targets wide swath of public assistance programs MORE (Md.), and James Clyburn (S.C.) all called on Conyers to resign, absent any House Ethics Committee investigation. They’ve demanded the same of freshman Rep. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus Kihuen BernalNevada Democrat accused of sexual harassment reconsiders retirement: report Former Dem congressman jumps into race for Kihuen seat Dems eye GOP rep's seat after sexual harassment allegations MORE (D-Nev.).

On the other side of the aisle, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Wis.), who was quick to demand that Conyers resign, has still not called on Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFarenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him House Ethics calls on Farenthold to pay back K taxpayer-funded harassment settlement Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (R-Texas) to step down, even though Farenthold’s acknowledged spending $84,000 of taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by a former staffer. Meanwhile, facing accusations from two women, Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona GOP tinkers with election rules with an eye on McCain's seat More than 40 Dem House challengers outraising GOP incumbents Cook Political Report shifts seven House races toward Dems MORE (R-Ariz.) abruptly resigned his seat — again, before we heard a peep from Speaker Ryan.

The contrast is equally shameful in the Senate, where 32 Democratic senators, including leaders Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThrowing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds Congress should build on the momentum from spending bill MORE (N.Y.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHannity, Kimmel, Farrow among Time's '100 Most Influential' The Hill's Morning Report: 200 Days to the Election Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (Ill.), called on their colleague Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenWhy Smokin' Joe leads the pack of 2020 Democratic hopefuls Pawlenty to announce bid for Minnesota governor Al Franken: Sessions firing McCabe ‘is hypocrisy at its worst’ MORE (D-Minn.) to resign his seat. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo MORE (R-Ky.), after admitting that he believed the women who accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of preying on them when they were teenagers, has backed away from his condemnation of Moore and is instead now hiding behind the cowardly excuse that he’ll let the people of Alabama decide today whether or not to send a pedophile to the Senate. If they do, McConnell and fellow spineless Republicans will no doubt embrace Moore as the people’s choice.

Hanging like a black cloud over the GOP’s support for Roy Moore, of course, are the multiple charges of sexual assault against President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIG investigating Comey memos over classified information: report Overnight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Top Pruitt aid requested backdate to resignation letter: report MORE. Indeed, it’s hard for Republicans to reject Moore after embracing Trump, because Moore is simply following the Trump playbook: deny, deny, attack, attack, and hope it will all go away.

Even U.N. Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyBolton meets with Russian ambassador at White House Overnight Finance: IMF chief warns against US-China trade war | Trump, Abe can't strike deal on tariff exemptions | Republicans push Trump to rescind Gateway funds Mnuchin on Haley's Russia sanctions comments: 'She wasn't left twisting in the wind' MORE, a Trump loyalist, says that Trump’s accusers “deserve to be heard.” But that’s not the White House position. Trump himself still calls them liars and fabricators. And Trump’s attorney was in court last week, arguing that the president can’t be charged with a crime because he is, well, president.  Or, as Richard Nixon put it: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

From top to bottom, then, there’s a vast difference in how our two major parties are responding to charges of sexual harassment. It’s OK for Republicans, but not for Democrats. Instead of resigning, maybe Al Franken should have just changed his party.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”