While the specter of impeachment has been hanging over Donald Trump due to the escalating investigation into his Russia ties and whether his campaign colluded with the Russian government to tamper with the 2016 election, Congress may now open an investigation of Trump into another series of serious allegations against him — the accusations of sexual harassment or assault leveled at Trump by 19 separate women.
The allegations, made by women who have given their names on the public record, range over four decades from the early 1980s to as recently as 2013. Many of the allegations came to light during the 2016 presidential election campaign, but have resurfaced in recent weeks as a series of sexual harassment and assault allegations against prominent men in politics, the entertainment industry, and the media have burst onto the public scene, and caused the firings or resignations of such prominent figures as film producer Harvey Weinstein, TV personality Matt Lauer, and journalist Mark Halperin, among numerous others.
Trump has denied the allegations, claiming that he never met and does not know any of the women he is accused of sexually molesting. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the official White House stance on the accusations against Trump is that all 19 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct are lying.
As of Tuesday, five senators, all Democrats, have called on Trump to resign over the sexual harassment accusations — citing the resignation of Democratic senator Al Franken last week after he faced accusations of improperly groping a number of women, mostly as he was posing for photographs with them.
Though Franken announced that we would step down over the allegations, he did not set a date for his resignation and remains in the Senate as of Tuesday.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was the only one of the five to receive a direct response from Trump, whose tweet attacking her was immediately slammed for its apparent sexual innuendo, suggesting that in the past Gillibrand had come to him willing to "do anything" for a campaign donation.But on Monday, three of the women accusing Trump of harassment — Samantha Holvey, Jessica Leeds, and Rachel Crooks — held a press conference in New York at which they called for a congressional investigation into the sexual harassment and assault claims against him. Crooks labeled Trump's behavior "serial misconduct and perversion," while Holvey added, "They've investigated other Congress members so I think it only stands fair he be investigated as well."
But the women who say they were among Trump's victims were not alone in their calls for a congressional investigation. Approximately 60 congressional representatives, all of them women, jointly signed a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanding that the committee open an investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against Trump.
Crooks says that Trump attacked her in a Trump Tower elevator in 2005, when she was working as a receptionist at the real estate firm Bayrock, which had offices there and which partnered with Trump on the failed Trump Tower Soho project which is now reportedly a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Leeds alleges that when she was randomly seated next to him in the first-class section of an airline flight in the early 1980s, Trump suddenly assaulted her, grabbing her breasts and sticking his hand up her skirt. She also said that when she ran into Trump, again by chance, three years later at a work-related social function, he said that he remembered her and then insulted her by calling her "a c***."
Holvey says that during a 2006 beauty pageant in which she was a contestant, Trump barged into the women's dressing room and "ogled" the participants who were in various states of undress.
A Quinnipiac poll released in November showed that 61 percent of American voters believe that if even one of the sexual harassment allegations against Trump is proven to be true, he should face impeachment and removal from office. While 65 percent of women and 56 percent of men felt Trump should be impeached if he sexually harassed women, only 28 percent of Republicans — compared to 88 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents — agree.