Dems to invite sex misconduct victims to State of the Union

Dems to invite sex misconduct victims to State of the Union

- in US

WASHINGTON — Some Democratic House members are planning to invite victims of sexual assault to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address this month to highlight the issue, according to an aide to a lawmaker who has been a prominent voice on sexual misconduct.

“Some members will be bringing survivors of sexual assault and advocates as their guests,” said an aide to Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, who is a leader of the Democratic Women’s Working Group in the House. The aide asked not to be identified.

Two Democratic congresswomen told NBC News Thursday that there had been discussion about bringing women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct to the nationally televised address but that the idea was scuttled.

“That was killed,” one of the congresswomen said, declining to say who put the kibosh on it.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has pressured Frankel not to hold mock hearings with Trump accusers, suggested Thursday that she doesn’t support anything that smacks of politicizing the issue and risks turning off Republican lawmakers who are inclined to legislate with Democrats on sexual misconduct.

“It’s not all about Donald Trump,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol. “I don’t think that that would be helpful in terms of what we need to do for the American people.”

Party leaders generally don’t dictate who rank-and-file members can invite with the one ticket each one gets for a seat in a gallery above the House floor where the president delivers the address. But it’s clear that there’s still some uncertainty within Democratic ranks over where to draw the line between addressing sexual misconduct and turning the topic into a partisan political war.

Earlier this week, Pelosi urged Frankel not to hold mock hearings with Trump accusers, an idea the Florida Democrat had floated at a private Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting Monday night.

Pelosi told Frankel and other Democrats that such a “hearing” — only official committees, which are run by Republicans, can hold hearings — would distract from a focus on victims across the country and on developing bipartisan efforts to craft legislation on sexual assault and harassment issues, according to two sources who were in the room.

Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women since before taking office; he has denied the claims.

It was Trump who organized a news conference with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct right before a 2016 presidential debate with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, the former president’s wife. One lawmaker who spoke to NBC said Democrats would be “no better” than Republicans if they retaliated in kind at the State of the Union.

Image: Lois Frankel

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., speaks at right as Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, center, and Debbie Dingell, left, look on at a news conference on Capitol Hill in December.