Political News

Democratic lawmaker suggests mock 'hearings' for Trump accusers

Posted January 11, 2018 11:07 a.m. EST

— A Democratic congresswoman suggested holding mock "hearings" featuring women who have previously leveled sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump, prompting Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to request that the lawmaker stand down.

Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, a Democrat and head of the Democratic Women's Working Group, told CNN that she did raise the issue of bringing in women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct for mock hearings at a policy meeting earlier this week.

When asked in a phone interview Thursday morning whether she will not pursue these mock hearings after getting pushback from Pelosi, Frankel said: "I'm just going to say: We're going to focus on bipartisan efforts (for now). ... But that's all I'm going to say to you about that ... what we're going to do in the future, I'm not going to predict."

A Democratic aide said Pelosi asked Frankel not do hold hearings with Trump accusers, and Pelosi herself told CNN that the idea would not be "helpful," adding that all efforts regarding sexual harassment on Capitol Hill should be bipartisan .

"I don't think that that would be helpful in terms of what we need to do for the American people," Pelosi said. "It's not all about Donald Trump. Everything isn't. It's about our responsibility to America's women."

News of the proposed mock hearings were first reported by NBC. In pushback on that report, Frankel said this was not at all an "extensive discussion."

"It was probably 30 seconds. ... I don't want anyone to exaggerate this," she said.

At least 15 women have come forward with a wide range of accusations against Trump, spanning from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. Of the women, 13 say Trump attacked them directly and two others say they witnessed behavior that made them uncomfortable. All the alleged incidents took place prior to his assuming the presidency. Trump and the White House have repeatedly denied all the allegations.

The news comes as a number of lawmakers are under pressure from outside groups, according to one Democratic aide, to bring victims of sexual harassment and their advocates to the President's State of the Union address later this month -- a move that could create a distraction at the highly anticipated speech by highlighting sexual misconduct allegations against the President. Many of those lawmakers, according to the aide, have not yet made up their minds on what they want to do.

Rep. Jackie Speier, who has been one of the most vocal lawmakers on the Hill on sexual harassment issues, has invited #MeToo founder Tarana Burke to be her guest at the State of the Union. The California Democrat said she expects to hear back from Burke later Thursday.

Some members of Congress are also planning to wear black to Trump's State of the Union address -- a nod to the growing #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. That would mirror actors and actresses wearing the color black and #TimesUp pins earlier this week to the Golden Globes Awards ceremony in a show of solidarity.