Eyeing big gains in November’s midterms, House Democrats say they’d like to give a national platform to President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE’s sexual harassment accusers if they win back the lower chamber.
More than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual harassment abuses dating back decades, claims Trump has fervently denied. But as the #MeToo movement continues to sweep the country — toppling titans of business, Hollywood, the media and a handful of lawmakers on Capitol Hill — a growing number of Democrats think Congress should lend a voice to Trump’s accusers if their party controls the House next year.
“I think it would be most appropriate,” said Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenOmar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia Trump says being impeached twice didn't change him: 'I became worse' Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-Tenn.), among the handful of Democrats who’s pushing to impeach Trump.
“I mean, this is the most unusual circumstance that you have a president with over a dozen accusers of sexual harassment occupying the most prestigious position in the country.”
Long-dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct, Trump this month fueled the controversy surrounding his past when he suggested that two former senior aides, Rob Porter and David Sorensen, were unfairly treated after allegations surfaced that both men had abused their ex-wives. Trump suggested the aides were convicted in the court of public opinion without the right to self-defense. Both were forced to resign.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,” Trump tweeted last weekend. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
The comments were not overlooked by Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.), who called for immediate congressional hearings featuring similar due process for Trump’s accusers, who number at least 19.
“The President has shown through words and actions that he doesn’t value women. It’s not surprising that he doesn’t believe survivors or understand the national conversation that is happening,” tweeted Gillibrand, a possible presidential candidate in 2020. “If he wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let’s have Congressional hearings tomorrow.
“I would support that and my colleagues should too.”
Aside from Cohen, Gillibrand has found an early ally in Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDrug companies on verge of sinking longtime Democratic priority Failed drug vote points to bigger challenges for Democrats Democrats brace for toughest stretch yet with Biden agenda MORE, a fellow New York Democrat, who characterized Trump’s comments as just the latest evidence that the president is “tone-deaf on any issue having to do with harassment or even domestic violence.”
“He just has a disturbing lack of appreciation for the seriousness of these cases, and a predilection to always believing the accused instead of these victims,” Rice said. “It’s probably hard for him to condemn other people who engage in behavior that’s similar to his own — I understand the potential hypocrisy there — but when you’re the president, you’re supposed to make people feel like you care about their issues.”
Rice emphasized that inviting Trump’s accusers to testify on Capitol Hill is a call for party leaders, not her. And she stressed that the decision ultimately lies with the women themselves.
“It’s going to be up to each individual woman who’s had an incident with Donald Trump to decide how public they want to be now about it,” Rice said.
“But,” she added, “these are long overdue conversations having to do with sexual harassment and domestic violence.”
Amid mounting pressure, Trump on Wednesday told reporters in the Oval Office that he’s “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.”
“Everybody here knows that,” he said.
The Democrats, though, are not convinced. Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMcConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling House passes bill to prevent shutdown and suspend debt limit Hoyer tells Israel removal of Iron Dome funding is 'technical postponement' MORE (Md.), the minority whip, said that given the accusations facing Trump, the president has no moral authority to attack those alleging domestic abuse.
“This empathy for battered women?” Hoyer said Thursday. “It’s pretty late in coming and pretty lame in articulation.”
Harassment claims have swirled around Trump long before he arrived in Washington.
His first wife, Ivana Trump, told a court in 1989 that her then-husband had “raped” her during an argument, though she later said she didn’t use the term in a “criminal sense.” A makeup artist filed a lawsuit against Trump in 1997 alleging attempted rape. And in October of 2016, just a month before Trump was elected, The Washington Post published the audio of a previously unreleased Access Hollywood interview, recorded in 2005, in which Trump boasts that his celebrity has allowed him to “do anything” to women.
“You can grab them by the p---y,” he told host Billy Bush.
Trump dismissed the remarks as “locker room talk,” but the story prompted a number of women to come forward with their own allegations against the then-candidate. Trump has denied them all, and his White House team is pushing back hard against Gillibrand’s suggestion that his accusations should be given a voice on Capitol Hill.
White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayPoll from conservative group shows tight governor's race in Virginia Psaki defends move to oust Trump appointees from military academy boards Defense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle MORE said last Sunday that those alleging misconduct against the president have “had their day,” while accusing Gillibrand and the Democrats of hypocrisy for supporting former President Clinton amid his White House tryst with a young aide.
Cohen pointed to Trump’s response to Wednesday’s shooting massacre in Florida — in which Trump urged the public to “always report” instances of “bad and erratic behavior” — as a template for the Democrats to follow in investigating the sexual harassment charges against the president.
“The president basically called for it,” Cohen said. “He said when the public sees bad and erratic behavior, or actions by somebody that’s mentally disturbed, they should report it.
“Congress has that same responsibility.”