(ABC News) — More than 110 House Democrats have joined a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight Committee calling for an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump.
“I think when you go back to the [election], there were so many issues being litigated that may have overshadowed the allegations of the many many women who accused him of sexual abuse,” Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida, the leader of the letter, said at a news conference today. “If you look at the mood of the country and the Me Too movement, the time is right to really get to the truth of the matter.”
More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault in the years before he was president. Trump and the White House have denied the allegations.
On Monday, prompted by a national reckoning with sexual harassment in media, entertainment and politics, four of the women who had previously accused Trump of sexual harassment called on Congress to investigate their allegations.
The letter sent to the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday was initially organized by a group of female House Democrats, but many of their male counterparts asked to be a part of the effort, Frankel said.
Asked about the focus on allegations that predate the Trump administration, Frankel cited congressional investigations into Whitewater during the Clinton administration.
“It represents the conduct of a person who is ill equipped to be the president of the United States,” she said.
Frankel told ABC News that Democrats should take up an investigation of the allegations against Trump in the Oversight Committee — which has broad jurisdiction over the federal government as well as subpoena power — if the party retakes the House in 2018.
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, supported Democrats’ push, and cited Paula Jones’ lawsuit more than two decades ago against President Bill Clinton as precedent to sue a sitting U.S. president.
“If there are allegations against the president, and someone wants to take him to court, there is the law and there is the precedent that this has already happened to a president,” Pelosi said. “When the president says that he has witnesses to the fact that none of this stuff ever happened, that would be quite a remarkable thing, but nonetheless, he may have his chance in court to prove that.”
In a reply to Frankel, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said he would refer the request to the Department of Justice.
“This committee, nor any other Committee of Congress, does not, and cannot, prosecute crimes,” he wrote. “This is true for many reasons but especially true in crimes of this serious nature. Those alleging sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct deserve to be interviewed by law enforcement professionals, and charging decisions should be made by prosecutors based on the quantum and quality of the admissible and provable evidence.”