Three of the women who, in the Fall of 2016, accused Donald Trump of sexual assault have publicly called on Congress to investigate their allegations. The women are: Rachel Crooks, who accused Trump of kissing her on the lips without consent in 2005; Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of moving his hand up her skirt decades ago; and Samantha Holvey, a former Miss North Carolina, who accused Trump of entering a dressing room to peek at undressed beauty contestants in 2006.
I tend to believe these women. Trump is on tape bragging about conduct similar to that described by Leeds and worse than that described by the other two. (According to some reports, he now questions whether it’s his voice on the tape. However, during the election he raised no such question. Instead, he called the tape “locker room talk” and apologized for it).
It’s understandable, moreover, that the women want their claims revisited. Recently, the mighty have fallen due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Why not President Trump, they must wonder.
The answer, I think, is that Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, etc. were not elected president (or, in Franken’s case, Senator) after allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against them. Indeed, each assumed the position they were forced or pressured into giving up before they were publicly exposed as sexual harassers.
However, this distinction would not apply to Roy Moore, if he is elected to the Senate tomorrow. That’s why I have said that GOP Senators who are calling him unfit to serve need to explain why the same isn’t true of President Trump.
If Moore wins, he should not be investigated, in my opinion. However, the case for investigating the sexual misconduct allegations against him would be stronger than the case for investigating the ones against Trump.
Moore hopes to join the Senate. The Senate has an interest in policing its membership (though I don’t think that, in this case, it outweighs the interest of Alabamans in being represented by the Senator of their choice). Trump does not seek membership in the Senate.
This doesn’t mean the Senate can’t investigate the claims of the three Trump accusers. But it need not do so in the name of consistency and, in my view, shouldn’t devote time and resources to investigating old claims of personal misconduct that were raised in the election and considered by the electorate.
The analysis would be different if the offenses to be investigated were impeachable ones. In this case, I don’t think they are. The conduct described does not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as that phrase has been, and should be, understood.
Remember, the articles of impeachment against President Clinton approved by the House cited him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. (An additional article based on his answers to questions from the House Judiciary Committee failed.) There were no charges based on sexual misconduct.
Nikki Haley is right. Trump’s accusers should be heard. But not via a Senate investigation.