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The politics of sexual harassment revelations

New sexual harassment allegations have roiled the political careers of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss why President Trump has weighed in on Franken but not Moore and reconsidering old allegations against former President Bill Clinton.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    For more on the political fallout of new sexual harassment allegations and the battle over the Republican tax plan, I’m joined by our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome to you both.

    So, let’s start with the story that we are coming back to tonight because of new allegations, as you heard at the top of the show, new allegations just out late today about journalist Charlie Rose of PBS, CBS, Bloomberg, and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times, sexual allegations.

    Amy — but I do want to ask both of you. We’re here to talk about politics.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We have these — this new — another new allegation now against Bob Franken — I’m sorry — Al Franken.

  • Amy Walter:

    Al Franken, yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Who has had one woman state that he sexually harassed and worse with her.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But now you have a new one.

    Does this change? Because this one involves him, Al Franken, as a senator. Does this change, in a way, what — the seriousness of all this?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, I think that, already, even at the very beginning, Democrats were — including Senator Franken, said, we need to have an ethics investigation in order to get exactly at things like this.

    Was this just a one-time event that happened during the USO era with this one woman or did this happen more frequently, especially while he was a senator?

    Now we have at least one case, one woman coming forward. An investigation would unleash more.

    The real question, though, is, how much time do we have before we start to see groups or individuals come out calling for Al Franken’s resignation? Already, just watching Twitter today, you could see some liberal voices, some groups saying it’s time for Al Franken to step down.

    Let’s see what happens, especially in Minnesota, over the next few weeks. Is there a building cry for his resignation?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There have been calls, of course, almost immediately when these allegations came out, Tamara, from the right and the left, and Al Franken himself said there should be an ethics investigation.

    But how — you know, how much of a platform or leg does he have to stand on right now?

  • Tamara Keith:

    An ethics investigation, how serious is that? How long does it last?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And, in the meantime, what else comes out?

    I think that there are a lot of people in Washington and beyond holding their breath, not knowing where this goes, whether there are more names that will come out, out of Congress or elsewhere.

    And there’s a very palpable sense that this is not the end. And we don’t know if we’re at the beginning or in the middle of these revelations and this cultural moment, and sort of where that ends up.

    And, you know, Al Franken right now is standing alone. Will he continue to stand alone?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I think that’s a very big piece of this.

    Every day, we have a new name coming out in different businesses, obviously, today, a big focus on journalists. But we will have it back on onto politics soon enough.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Jackie Speier, the congressman from California who has been out front in speaking of her own experience, just said a few days ago that there are two sitting members of Congress right now who have allegations against them. But she hasn’t yet said who they are. There is a nondisclosure agreement that is signed under congressional rules.

  • Tamara Keith:

     Right, but will someone go on the record? It’s just — this is quite a moment that we’re in.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The other name, of course, the other person we’re watching is Roy Moore, the Senate candidate, Republican Senate candidate, of Alabama.

    Amy, the president has gone after Al Franken, but he has not said anything about Roy Moore. The White House has said, let the voters of Alabama decide.

    I guess, can the White House stand on that position?

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

    I mean, to say that the president is doing something that’s contradictory is not new, right? That he’s saying one thing about one person and then has another rule for another person is totally within keeping with the way the president has behaved, including the fact that, of course, one is a Republican and one is a Democrat.

    So, in that sense, I think, you know, we have long understood that the way that the president sees the world in terms of like putting people who are on his side and people who are on the other side — this sort of fits into that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, meantime, Amy, you have the allegations resurfacing — or I should say conversation resurfacing about President Bill Clinton and whether he should have done something. He should have stepped down.

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made that comment last week. A lot of pushback from the Clinton camp.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Certainly, there was.

    But this is — when Bill Clinton was running for president, there was a different default setting. The default setting was to criticize the women, in part by — led by people who were affiliated with Bill Clinton.

    The default setting now is to believe the women. It’s like a hashtag. The default setting has completely changed.

    But, in the meantime, since Bill Clinton, you had Arnold Schwarzenegger get elected shortly after there were groping allegations in California. And you had the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, get elected after some very serious allegations that remain outstanding. It’s not like anyone has recanted those allegations.

  • Amy Walter:

    I think there’s — it’s also an interesting discussions when we talk about the Clintons.

    If you go back to 2016 and look at how much of the Clinton legacy was already being — how many Democrats were already distancing themselves from the Clinton legacy ideologically and on issues, on trade, on the Defense of Marriage Act, on the crime bill, on welfare reform.

    So, it’s yet one more reminder of how — a Democratic Party that is moving away of the legacy left by the Clintons, by Bill Clinton specifically. And I think this is one case where we are going to see both the party, but also society moving on from what was acceptable back then.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, what we know is that all of this is moving very fast and new allegations coming out. It feels to me almost hourly.

  • Tamara Keith:

     Like, our phones just keep buzzing.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     That’s right. It’s been going on certainly all day long.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Amy Walter:

     And we still don’t know how to deal with this.

    As I said, the floodgates have opened. There is a whole bunch of water that is flowing through. And we don’t know what to do with all the water now. And that’s what’s going to take a long time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, Politics Monday, thank you both.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You’re welcome.

  • Amy Walter:

    You’re welcome.

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