Sexual Harassment on Capitol Hill
Reporting by James Rosen
In his first news conference since four women accused him of sexual misconduct, Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said he’s “tremendously sorry.”
Franken pledged to cooperate with an ethics committee probe and vowed to work to regain voters’ trust, but he declined to specify where he disputes his accusers’ accounts and couldn’t guarantee additional claims won’t surface.
“I take a lot of pictures in Minnesota—thousands of pictures; meet tens of thousands of people. So those are instances that I do not remember,” Franken told the press.
One colleague had already demanded more, with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida saying, “the things he’s already admitted to I find to be outrageous and offensive—and I do think on that alone he should consider resigning.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, America’s top elected woman, surprised many with her defense of Democratic colleague John Conyers of Michigan, whom she called “an icon.”
The 88 year old lawmaker stepped down as a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee on Sunday following his acknowledgment that he settled a misconduct claim by a female staffer in 2015,
VOX editor Laura McGann tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi went on national TV and ran through a list of excuses for John Conyers that are the very reasons women are afraid to report sexual harassment in the first place.”
Matt Schlapp, Chair of the American Conservative Union, wrote, “Pelosi is a survivor and knows she can’t lose support in black caucus so she is gentle with Conyers. It’s always about power.”
Conyers has denied all charges, but two more women have come forward. Former staffer Melanie Sloan alleges Conyers once appeared for a meeting in his underwear and behaved inappropriately on other occasions.
“He once pulled me out of a meeting with domestic violence advocates, no less, and started screaming at me in the hallway and berating me, I believe, for not wearing stockings on some hundred-degree Washington day.”
And Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, having apologized for a nude selfie he took for a woman with whom he had an affair, has confirmed to the ‘Washington Post’ the authenticity of a recording the woman made of a phone call in which Barton threatened to unleash the Capitol Police on her.