Leaders of the Democratic Women’s Working Group are urging Congress to open an investigation into the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump.
On Monday evening, 59 Democratic congresswomen signed and published a letter to Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The letter received an overwhelming amount of support from the House Democratic Caucus and, as of Tuesday afternoon, had received more than 100 signatures from male as well as female Democrats.
The letter, which was spearheaded by Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), requests a formal congressional investigation into the 19 allegations against Trump of sexual harassment and assault.
“The American people deserve a full inquiry into the truth of these allegations,” the letter reads.
Trump has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting at least 19 women. In October 2016, a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked to The Washington Post in which Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Trump has denied all accusations. In October of this year, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested that all of Trump’s accusers were lying.
“Regardless of the victim or alleged perpetrator, every voice deserves to be heard and justice demands transparency, accountability and respect of due process,” Lawrence said in a press release. “A thorough investigation into these accusations of sexual misconduct by President Trump is long overdue.”
Cummings issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the request for an investigation.
“Congress is in the midst of a critical and long-overdue examination of allegations against its own Members ― both before and after they were elected to Congress,” he wrote. “The Oversight Committee is charged with examining similar allegations against Executive Branch employees and the President. It is extremely hard for Republicans to argue that Congress should ignore these multiple allegations. They deserve a bipartisan review, and I hope Chairman Gowdy will launch an investigation immediately.”
A thorough investigation into these accusations of sexual misconduct by President Trump is long overdue. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.)
Speier said that Trump’s behavior “warrants a call for his resignation,” but that the most important thing right now is to start an investigation.
“What I find most disturbing is the fact that his victims were dismissed out of hand or, even worse, called liars,” she said in a press release. “These women deserve to have us engage in a serious examination of the allegations and facts, as does the American public.”
On Tuesday evening, Gowdy responded to the Democratic Women’s Working Group with a letter addressed to Frankel. He said he would refer the accusations to the Department of Justice because the allegations against Trump “constitute crimes.”
“We are sending a copy of your letter to the Department of Justice albeit with the understanding the Department does not have jurisdiction over state law violations,” Gowdy’s letter reads. “This Committee, nor any other Committee of Congress, does not, and cannot, prosecute crimes. This is true for many reasons but especially true in crimes of this series nature.”
The Oversight Committee has investigated criminal behavior in the past (including the Benghazi and the Fast and Furious investigations). The DOJ is allowed to investigate the same issue simultaneously.
“While previous Chairmen took a different approach, throughout his time in Congress, Chairman Gowdy has been consistent in steering clear of investigating crime. As a former prosecutor, Chairman Gowdy strongly believes criminal investigations should be left up to law enforcement,” a Gowdy spokeswoman told HuffPost.
Four of Trump’s accusers held a press conference on Monday urging Congress to open an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations.
“Unless Congress gets the courage to act as a body and hold him accountable, then nothing is going to happen,” Jessica Leeds, who alleges that Trump groped her on an airplane over 30 years ago, told HuffPost on Monday.
Samantha Holvey, who accused Trump of leeringly inspecting her and other 2006 Miss USA candidates during a contest event that year, told HuffPost that Trump’s behavior is not limited to just these allegations.
“This is not even 16 individual instances ― this is a lifetime of him and how he treats women,” Holvey said.
A White House spokesperson responded to the women’s accusations on Monday in a statement to Megyn Kelly on her NBC show.
“These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgement by delivering a decisive victory,” the statement read. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”
Read the letter in full below.
These are the 59 representatives who originally signed the letter on Monday evening:
Lois Frankel (D-Fla.)
Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.)
Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
Gwen Moore (D-Wis.)
Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)
Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.)
Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.)
Kathy Castor (D-Fla.)
Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
Dina Titus (D-Nev.)
Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.)
Norma Torres (D-Calif.)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)
Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)
Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)
Julia Brownley (D-Calif.)
Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
Judy Chu (D-Calif.)
Alma Adams (D-N.C.)
Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.)
Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.)
Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Doris Matsui (D-Calif.)
Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.)
Grace Meng (D-N.Y.)
Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.)
Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.)
Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.)
Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)
Val Demings (D-Fla.)
Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.)
Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)
Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.)
Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.)
Susan Davis (D-Calif.)
Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio)
Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.)
Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.)
Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.)
Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)
This story has been updated to include Cummings’ comments, the House Democratic Caucus’ response to the letter, and response from Gowdy.