- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Democrats intensified their calls Tuesday for an investigation of President Trump over old accusations of sexual misconduct, as the White House batted down a fresh outcry from liberals accusing the president of posting a sexist tweet about a female senator.

At least 59 female House lawmakers signed on to a letter urging the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the decades-old accusations by multiple women about Mr. Trump, saying “the American people deserve a full inquiry into the truth of these allegations.”

But the panel’s Republican chairman promptly rejected their call, saying his committee does not investigate crimes or even determine fitness for office.

“Allegations brought for now or in the future that, while serious, do not allege violations of specific criminal statutes, should be referred to the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over allegations related to fitness for office and non-criminal matters,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, told the group in a letter.

As the Democrats increased their drumbeat against the president, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, accused Mr. Trump of tweeting a “sexist smear” against her Tuesday.

The president, punching back online against Ms. Gillibrand’s earlier criticism of him, said on Twitter that the lawmaker “begged” him for campaign contributions years ago and that she “would do anything” for a donation.

Ms. Gillibrand, who first learned of the president’s tweet while sitting in a bipartisan Bible study group at a Senate office building, blasted Mr. Trump for “the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.”

“I will not be silent on this issue. Neither will women who stood up to the president yesterday, and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the Women’s March to stand up against policies they do not agree with,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

The media and fellow Democrats rushed to the senator’s defense, with outlets such as The Washington Post saying the president had attacked Ms. Gillibrand “in a sexually suggestive tweet.” Others said the president had essentially accused Ms. Gillibrand of prostitution.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, accused the president of trying to “slut-shame” Ms. Gillibrand.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the furor as mock indignation in a town where many lawmakers routinely accept campaign cash with the expectation that they will “carry water” for their donors.

“I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way,” Mrs. Sanders said about the idea of sexual innuendo in the president’s tweet.

“There’s no way that this is sexist at all. This is simply talking about a system that we have that is broken in which special interests control our government,” she said.

She added, “And I don’t think that there’s probably many people that are more controlled by political contributions than the senator that the president referenced.”

Several critics in the media and Democrats in Congress promptly said Mr. Trump never would have accused a male lawmaker of being willing to “do anything” for campaign cash.

But in fact, Mr. Trump has done so.

For example, on Jan. 25, 2016, during the Republican presidential primary, Mr. Trump blasted rivals Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz on Twitter in a nearly identical vein.

“Cruz lies are almost as bad as Jeb’s,” Mr. Trump tweeted at the time. “These politicians will do anything to stay at the trough!”

Said Mrs. Sanders, “He’s used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women, and certainly in his campaign to drain the swamp.”

“The system is clearly broken. It’s clearly rigged for special interests, and this president is someone that can’t be bought,” she said.

Washington’s addiction to campaign cash has been noted by humorists from Mark Twain (who once said, “We have the best Congress money can buy”) to P.J. O’Rourke, who authored the book “Parliament of Whores” in 1991.

But Democrats were in no laughing mood over Mr. Trump’s tweet as they sought to gain the higher moral ground on the issue of sexual harassment.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said there is a “course of action” regarding a possible House oversight investigation into claims of sexual assault regarding Mr. Trump.

“The committee should allow the investigation to go forward. The court should allow the case to go forward, and the due process work its will,” Mrs. Pelosi said at a press briefing on Capitol Hill.

Asked whether Mr. Trump should resign from office, Mrs. Pelosi deflected the question.

“I don’t think he ever should have been president,” she answered.

Joining calls from three male Senate Democrats, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, also called for the president to step down, declaring that his tweet against Ms. Gillibrand was “just another example of his misogyny.”

“He is a liar. He is an admitted sexual predator, and the only thing that will stop him is his resignation,” Ms. Hirono said. “He not only owes Kirsten an apology, he owes an apology to our entire country, particularly the women in this country.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, called it “an ugly and suggestive tweet, and we all know what he was trying to say there, and it is beneath the office of the presidency.” Rep. John A. Yarmuth, Kentucky Democrat, said Mr. Trump had “proven to be a poison for the presidency, a cancer on the country and a truly disgraceful human being.”

Republicans were mostly silent about the tweet. Only Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a frequent Trump critic, said he “didn’t think it was appropriate at all.”

Mr. Trump has been accused by several women of sexual harassment or lewd behavior — stories that were aired extensively during the presidential campaign.

The recent wave of women coming forward in various industries — dubbed the #MeToo movement — has inspired some of Mr. Trump’s accusers to come forward again, with appearances Monday on live TV in New York City.

In their letter to Mr. Gowdy and the oversight panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the Democratic Women’s Working Group requested the investigation, saying both the president and 17 women who have publicly accused him of bad behavior should have a chance to explain their sides.

“Sexual abuse will not be tolerated whether it’s by a Hollywood producer, a chef at a restaurant, a member of Congress or the president of the United States. No man or women is above the law,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, a Florida Democrat who heads the working group.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, declined to back calls for an investigation, although he said he respected the rights of other Democrats to demand a probe.

“I’m not going to add anything today on that subject,” Mr. Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, was even less enthusiastic, saying that while the legislative chambers can police their own members, there wasn’t an obvious route to investigate the president.

“What we’re in charge of here is the Senate,” Mr. McConnell said. “That’s what we’re dealing with here.”

Despite what Mr. Growdy said about any suspected crimes being the purview of state law and/or the Justice Department, the Democratic lawmakers said the investigation’s immediate goal would be to get to the facts behind the accusations and they didn’t rule out an eventual effort to impeach Mr. Trump.

“History has shown us that we impeached a president for inappropriate sexual behavior in the past,” said Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence, Michigan Democrat.

Sally Persons and Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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