Reporter asks Sanders if she has ever been sexually harassed

Amid an ongoing national discussion about sexual misconduct, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to answer directly when asked during Monday’s press briefing if she herself has ever been sexually harassed.

CNN’s Brian Karem asked Sanders the question during a tense briefing in which Sanders had sparred with reporters over “fake news” and discussed the sexual harassment allegations against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE.

“As a woman standing up there talking to us, I know your job is to relate what the president says, have you ever been sexually harassed and do you understand — and I’m not saying by the president — I’m saying ever,” Karem asked. “And secondly, do you have any empathy for those who come forward? Because it’s very difficult.”

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Sanders responded that she does empathize with sexual harassment victims, but did not say whether she had personal experiences with harassment.

“I absolutely would say that I have an empathy for any individual who has been sexually harassed, and that certainly would be the policy of the White House,” she said. “I’m not here to speak about my personal experience on that front, but I’m here to relay information on behalf of the president.”

The press briefing came after several senators called for Trump to step down over the resurgence of the more than 16 accusations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women. Three of Trump’s accusers held a press conference Monday in which they called for a congressional investigation into their allegations.

The official White House position on the Trump allegations is that all of the women are lying.