President Trump has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but his dismissals aren't sufficient for some women in Congress. On Monday, 56 female Democrats called for a congressional investigation into Trump's alleged behavior in a letter, joining three of Trump's accusers who did so earlier in the day. The move serves as the first official action taken by members of Congress to address sexual harassment allegations against the president.
Members of the Democratic Women's Working Group wrote a letter asking House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to investigate the numerous allegations made against President Trump. "The American people deserve a full inquiry into the truth of these allegations," the letter asserted, noting that at least 17 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct. The White House has called Trump's accusers liars, and on Monday claimed Trump has "eyewitness accounts" that discredit the allegations.
The female lawmakers' letter also alluded to the Access Hollywood tape — "The President has boasted in public and in crude terms that he feels at liberty to perpetrate such conduct against women" — and the 56 women who signed the letter believe the recording contradicts Trump's continuous denials of sexual impropriety. "The President's own remarks appear to back up the allegations," the letter claims. The women requested a response within 10 days "so that the Democratic Women's Working Group can proceed accordingly."
The letter to the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform followed a press conference held by Brave New Films and three of Trump's accusers, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey, and Rachel Crooks. The women first came forward with their accusations against Trump in October 2016, and detailed his alleged behavior to the nation again on Monday, asking Congress to formally investigate.
"I ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump's history of sexual misconduct," Crooks said at the press conference streamed on Facebook.
The DWWG named Leeds, Holvey, Crooks, and 14 other women who have come forward with allegations against the president in their letter to the House Oversight Committee. Leeds alleges Trump groped her and put his hand up her skirt on a flight in the late '70s. Crooks claims he forcibly kissed her in Trump Tower in 2005. And Holvey alleges he "inspected" her and other 2006 Miss USA pageant contestants.
The White House responded to their renewed allegations on Monday, writing in a statement:
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.
Both Trump's accusers and the group of female Democrats evoked the #MeToo movement to assert that no one should be immune to the national reckoning happening around sexual harassment because of the office they hold. They also noted that Congress opened ethics probes amid sexual misconduct allegations against multiple congressmen, asking that the president be held to the same standard.
"We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr. Trump," the DWWG's letter said.
Over in the Senate, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called for President Trump to resign over the sexual harassment allegations.
In response to the press conference held by Trump's accusers, Wyden tweeted:
"These women are right. If @realDonaldTrump won't resign, Congress must investigate allegations by many, many women that he sexually assaulted and harassed them. No one is above the law.
While the number of lawmakers calling for Trump to be held accountable rose significantly on Monday, the DWWG's letter made the request official. Time will tell if Gowdy and Cummings respond within the requested timeframe.