Commenting on the latest sexual misconduct allegations in politics, the Twitter user @ProudResister wrote Thursday that President Trump should resign — and the Department of Defense retweeted it by accident. @ProudResister also wrote in the same tweet that Republican Roy Moore should exit the Alabama Senate race and Democratic Sen. Al Franken should step down.
The official Defense Department account deleted the retweet shortly after it went out. A spokesman for the Pentagon, Col. Rob Manning, issued a statement clarifying that the message of the tweet "would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense.” Manning says in the statement that the retweet was an "error" and that the person responsible had deleted the tweet once the mistake was caught.
Allegations of sexual harassment and assault have toppled the careers of dozens of Hollywood titans and news media figures over the past year, from Bill O'Reilly to Harvey Weinstein. Now it seems some male politicians will follow that notorious trajectory. Moore faces allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, all of which he's strongly denied, and Franken stands accused of groping a fellow United Services Organization (USO) performer (he apologized). Trump himself has been accused of sexual harassment by 16 women. The president has denied all of those allegations.
In the original tweet, the @ProudResister account wrote:
The solution is simple... Roy Moore: Step down from the race. Al Franken: Resign from congress. Donald Trump: Resign from the presidency. GOP: Stop making sexual assault a partisan issue. It’s a crime as is your hypocrisy.
And while the retweet didn't stay up for long, there were enough eyes that caught it to turn the Pentagon's seeming endorsement of a Trump resignation into a Twitter bonanza.
The latest sexual allegations against Moore and Franken are the first of what some predict will be many more in the making. The public focus on the issue has brought to light a little-known congressional office and an enormous amount paid out in settlements to women and other victims of discrimination on Capitol Hill.
The OOC (Office of Compliance) was created in the 1990s with the explicit purpose of holding members of Congress and their staffs accountable for proper workplace conduct. But it seems many of the people it is supposed to help don't even know the OOC exists.
And the way the OOC processes claims of sexual harassment has raised many questions about its fairness and efficacy. Those who report their experiences must attend 30 days of counseling, followed by 30 days of mediation alongside the person they've accused of harassment or discrimination. At the end of that two-month process, settlement claims are sometimes granted, though the perpetrator is not made to pay. Instead, those payments come out of a special Treasury fund. It's unclear exactly what, if any, the consequences are for the men (or women) guilty of harassment or discrimination.
Total payments to date come in at $17 million. That's a lot of money, which implies a lot of discrimination and harassment, most of which never reaches the public's ear. It's an area ripe for reform with Rep. Jackie Speier leading the movement to make the process for victims less burdensome.
The sudden willingness of so many to discuss the reality and real harm of sexual harassment has brought renewed interest in the 16 women who have alleged Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them. Trump denies all of the charges against him. But for many, it's hard to believe the president with the Access Hollywood recording of him bragging about grabbing women by their genitals.
For those arguing Moore and Franken must step aside from politics for their alleged sexual misconduct, it would follow the same standard should apply to Trump as well. And for a brief moment Thursday, the Department of Defense seemed to endorse that view on Twitter.