One of the closest reporters to the President in the White House Press Corps has let the public know that Donald Trump’s insistence on transparency extends to allegations of sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill.
Chief White House Correspondent Trey Yingst tweeted recently that “President Trump tells me he believe[s] Congress should release the names of lawmakers who have settled sexual harassment claims.
President Trump called on Congress to release the names of lawmakers who have settled any sexual harassment claims. When asked by reporters on Tuesday concerning the issue and whether he thinks names should be released to the public, Mr. Trump told reporters “I do – I really do,” as he was leaving the White House to spend his Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, according to The Guardian.
The statement comes after recent scandals in Congress have prompted numerous investigations by various ethics committees. Among the most notable, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the longest-serving member in the House, is accused of using Congressional resources to fly in women that he had affairs with. Other accusations include having inappropriately touched numerous women – going so far to fire one who didn’t yield to his sexual advances.
A former House employee said she lost her job for refusing to return his affections, an account that’s matched by other documents and four affidavits from former members of Mr. Conyers’ staff. The complaint, first filed in 2014, resulted in settlement of $27,000 along with a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from speaking to the public.
Nor is this the only prominent case to grab mainstream attention. Another Democrat, Sen. Al Franken (D-MI), a former comedian-turned-politician, came under fire for inappropriately kissing and touching a woman many years ago for a skit he was during overseas.
The Washington Post reported that over the past 20 years, the Congress’ Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for over 260 settlements with federal employees. The problem, however, is that the process has become so mired with bureaucratic red tape that most cases end up grinding to a slow, frustrating halt. The women in question in the 2014 settlement with Rep. Conyers ended up accepting a money in exchange for her silence.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said, choosing anonymity out of fear of retribution.
Leaders of the House Ethics Committee announced on Tuesday that the panel had begun to look into Rep. Conyers after receiving numerous allegations. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the second most senior Democrat on the committee, called the claims “extremely serious and deeply troubling.”
The President said yesterday that he was glad these alleged sexual assaults are finally exposed after being suppressed for too long, suggesting that the political climate has changed to one where such behavior is no longer acceptable.
A number of members of Congress have been accused of sexual misconduct. Should Congress take action?
“I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women, and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I’m very happy it’s being exposed,” Mr. Trump stated, as reported by The Post.
Revealing the names of those who settled sexual harassment claims is something that all Americans would likely support, and would send an important message to those who think such behavior is acceptable on Capitol Hill.