In the wake of congressional leaders dodging calls for a probe into accusations against President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, two lawmakers are calling on an independent federal agency to investigate the claims instead.
In a letter issued Wednesday, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) asked the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to investigate the 19 allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against Trump, who has firmly denied all accusations.
“Credible claims of inappropriate conduct against the holder of the highest office in the nation have gone uninvestigated,” the two representatives wrote. “Following the release of a video tape in October 2016 in which then-candidate Donald Trump admits ― and brags about ― making unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances toward women, numerous individuals came forward to share their own personal stories of their encounters.”
The tape they reference is the infamous audio recording in which Trump brags about kissing women without their consent and says he can just “grab ’em by the pussy.” The audio, a 2005 conversation with then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, was released by The Washington Post shortly before Trump won the election.
Trump now denies the audio is authentic.
Crowley and Speier’s letter comes a day after 59 Democratic congresswomen signed a letter urging the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate the allegations. However, both House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) haven’t been receptive to requests for an investigation.
Crowley and Speier’s suggestion to go through the U.S. Office of Government Ethics would bypass their objections.
Several of Trump’s accusers have also banded together to ask for an investigation.
“We believe public officials must set the gold standard for professional behavior, particularly those who hold the high offices of representative, senator, and ― especially ― president of the United States,” Crowley and Speier wrote.