Hollywood’s #MeToo hits Washington


WASHINGTON: From the White House to Congress to the Supreme Court, the city has had its share of sexual scandals.

But the #MeToo movement which initiated the exposition of sexual misconduct in Hollywood has made way to the US capital this week, triggering an unparalleled slew of allegations, apologies, and resignations.

Democratic Senator Al Franken said he was sorry after a radio talk show host accused him of forcibly kissing her in 2006 and for posing for a picture, which showed him groping her while sleeping.

US President Donald Trump, despite numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, was quick to respond to this and referred to the Senator as “Al Frankenstein”, saying the picture was “really bad”.

Trump’s Twitter attack on the Democratic senator was in stark contrast to his relative silence over another scandal: allegations that Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, once preyed on teenage girls.

Meanwhile, two female members of the House of Representatives, one Democrat and one Republican, have accused two lawmakers, who they declined to name, of sexual harassment.

A congresswoman’s chief of staff has also resigned amid allegations that he had sexually harassed co-workers.

Former president George H.W. Bush, 93, has also found himself in the line of fire, accused by half a dozen women of groping them during photo ops, both before and after he became confined to a wheelchair.

“There a lot of nervous people around wondering who will be next,” White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News.

Hastert, Thomas, Clinton

One of the most high-profile cases of sexual misconduct in Congress involved Dennis Hastert, the former Republican speaker of the House, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to making illegal payments to hush up his molestation of teenage boys.

Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearing in 1991 was overshadowed by allegations he sexually harassed a staffer, Anita Hill, charges which he denied.

Former Democratic president Bill Clinton, who admitted to having sexual relations with an intern Monica Lewinsky while serving in the White House is also part of this list.

The Trump presidential campaign repeatedly brought up Bill Clinton’s indiscretions during the bitter 2016 White House race against his wife, Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, the Trump campaign rejected the claims of multiple women that the billionaire real estate tycoon had acted inappropriately towards them, a pattern of behaviour Trump more or less admitted in a notorious 2005 recording.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women; I just start kissing them,” he said in the audiotape which surfaced during the campaign. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

While the White House continues to deny that Trump has ever engaged in inappropriate behaviour towards women, Congress is attempting to be proactive.

Republican speaker Paul Ryan announced this week that the House would adopt “mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training” for lawmakers and their staff.

“Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution,” Ryan said.