Dec 7, 2017 - Politics & Policy

Dems more willing to take on their own over sexual harassment

Roy Moore, Sen. Al Franken Photo: Brynn Anderson, Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Two Democratic lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct were pushed out of Congress this week, while Republican Trent Franks announced his resignation Thursday night after being advised to step down by House Speaker Paul Ryan. However, Republicans have yet to apply similar pressure in two of their most prominent cases of alleged misconduct: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and President Trump.

The bottom line: There's a clear difference in how each party is handling sexual misconduct. Republicans — especially if Roy Moore becomes a U.S. senator — will have to decide whether to impose the same standards on members of their own party. And of course, there's the irony Franken mentioned in his farewell speech — the Republican president was caught on tape boasting about sexual assault.

Democrats accused:

  • Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.): Stepped down from Congress Tuesday after being called to resign by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. James Clyburn, among others.
  • Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.): Announced he will resign from the Senate on Thursday after more than 30 Democratic senators called for his resignation.
  • Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.): Pelosi and other leading Democrats in the House have called for Kihuen to resign, but he told ABC News earlier this week that he won't.

Republicans accused:

  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas): Only one of his House GOP colleagues, Barbara Comstock, is calling on him to resign.
  • Senate candidate Roy Moore (R-Ala.): Senior Republicans initially called on him to step aside, though many softened their stances over time. Trump eventually gave Moore his full endorsement, and the RNC reinstated their financial support this week. (Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Weekly Standard today that the group will “never" endorse Moore.)
  • President Trump: No Republicans recently have called for him to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct, although Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Bob Corker have been far more critical of the president recently. After the Access Hollywood tape was released toward the end of the 2016 campaign, some condemned Trump's words, but few Republicans withdrew support for his campaign.

What they're saying:

  • White House press secretary Sarah Sanders: "We feel strongly the people of this country addressed [the allegations] when they elected Donald Trump as president."
  • RNC vs. DNC: On the same day, the DNC called for Franken to resign and the RNC reinitiated their financial support for Moore's campaign.
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "I think it's not a good time for the U.S. Senate," he told Axios' Caitlin Owens. "Every time I turn around there's some new information. This is very different from last week and next week will be very different ... I don't think Roy Moore should be a member of the U.S. Senate, I've said that from the beginning."
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.): "We have a president who acknowledged on tape that he assaulted women. I would hope that he pays attention to what's going on and think about resigning."
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.): "The electorate took care of [President Trump]," he told Owens. "And I don't know enough about [Rep. Farenthold] to comment."
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): "When you say there's different consequences in the two partes, I don't know that I concur," Murkowski told Owens, noting that Moore has not been elected yet, but refusing to speculate about what would be done if he was. "I don't think it is a party issue," she said. "I think that you when you have had a series of accusations that impacted a member's ability to represent their state it demands that action be taken," referring to Al Franken.
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that it is "entirely in the hands of Republicans at this point to decide whether or not they are going to take this issue seriously." He praised Flake for denouncing Moore. On Trump, Durbin said the president's reaction to the many allegations against him has been irresponsible ... He has a responsibility to address these issues more forthrightly and not to ignore them."
  • A spokesman for Ryan pointed to The Office of Congressional Ethics, saying the independent group "investigated this claim and voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint against the member. ... We clearly need to reform this entire system and process, and that is the purpose of the House Committee on Administration hearing this week." Ryan also reiterated his position that Moore should bow out of the race to reporters on Thursday.

This story has been updated with Rep. Trent Franks' resignation.

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