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McCaskill avoided elevators as congressional intern to evade harassment

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Tuesday that as an intern she avoided elevators to evade harassment from lawmakers.

“When I was an intern, I learned to avoid elevators, because elevators were when you were captured,” McCaskill told NBC News, referring to her time in Washington and back in Missouri. “And so, after one unfortunate incident in the elevator, I began taking the stairs everywhere I went in the state capitol when I was there as a college student.”

McCaskill said that when she was sexually harassed as an intern on Capitol Hill in the 1970s she did not report the incident, fearing it might hurt her career. 

The senator’s comments come as female congressional staffers have begun to speak out on the long-hidden culture of sexual harassment and bullying by male lawmakers and congressional aides. 

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At a special House committee session examining the chamber’s harassment policies on Tuesday, one congresswoman said at least two of her male peers have engaged in sexual harassment. 

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday requiring sexual harassment training for all sitting members and their staffs. 

“We’ve got to make sure that everyone understands that this is serious and there is consequences,” McCaskill said. “Each individual senator’s not going to get to decide whether or not this is important.”

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