Pence aide defends Meadows after ethics panel reprimand: He ‘had my back’

An aide to Vice President Pence defended Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan MORE (R-N.C.) on Saturday after he was reprimanded for his handling of sexual harassment allegations against his former chief of staff.

Alyssa Farah, Pence's press secretary, defended Meadows in a tweet, saying she was one of the women in the House Ethics Committee report about the allegations released the previous day.

Farah previously worked as communications director for Meadows and served as a spokeswoman and senior adviser to the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which Meadows chairs, before joining the Trump administration.

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“Meadows never sexually harassed anyone. His former staffer did. I know, I am 1 of the women in the report,” Farah tweeted Saturday.

“I respect the Ethics [Committee] but my experience was that Meadows had my back, took me at my word, & respected & protected me," she added. 

Farah was responding to a tweet from CNN, arguing it was misleading by making it seem like Meadows was the one who was investigated for sexual harassment, instead of his former aide.

Meadows was formally reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee on Friday for failing to address the sexual harassment allegations made against his former chief of staff, Kenny West.

Several female staffers in Meadows’s office alleged that West inappropriately touched them, stared at their breasts and tried to look down their blouses or up their skirts.

Meadows demoted West to a senior adviser but still kept him on staff after learning about the allegations, the report said.

West later resigned, but Meadows continued to pay him his full salary for another two months, as well as reimburse him for mileage.

Meadows told the panel that he continued to pay West after he resigned to ensure a smooth transition and “as severance.”

The aide continued to work for the congressman remotely during that time, including traveling to “constituent meetings on my behalf,” Meadows told the panel.

The GOP-led Ethics panel also ordered Meadows to repay taxpayers more than $40,000, the portion of the salary that Meadows continued to pay West after the allegations were reported.

“Representative Meadows’ failure to take prompt and decisive action to deal with the alleged sexual harassment in his congressional office was troubling to the Committee,” the Ethics report stated.

“The Committee found Representative Meadows violated House rules by failing to take appropriate steps to ensure that his House office was free from discrimination and any perception of discrimination.”

Farah began serving as spokeswoman and senior adviser for the Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 conservative hard-liners, in March 2016. Before that, she was the communications director for Meadows. She joined Pence’s team in September 2017.

The Ethics Committee on Friday also announced plans to formally sanction Rep. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (D-Nev.) over "persistent and unwanted" sexual advances towards women working for his campaign and in other roles.

The committee report found that Kihuen had made "persistent and unwanted [sexual] advances" towards women "who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities."