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Donna Brazile On The Democrats And Sexual Harassment


Minnesota Senator Al Franken says he'll make an announcement today. His staff insists that Franken has made no decisions, rejecting a report by Minnesota Public Radio that he's planning to resign. What is certain is that Franken support among Democrats collapsed yesterday after multiple women said he touched them inappropriately. Donna Brazile is our next guest, former chair of the Democratic Party. Good morning.

DONNA BRAZILE: Good morning. It's good to be with you.

INSKEEP: Good that you're with us. Any doubt in your mind about the choice that Al Franken faces?

BRAZILE: Well, I think he's going to be very difficult for Senator Franken to remain in the United States Senate given the fact that many of his colleagues, especially his Democratic colleagues, people he has known for many, many years have called for him to step aside. Last night the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, released a statement that said essentially sexual misconduct, harassment and assault have no place in the Democratic Party, the United States Congress, the White House or anywhere. And that's why chairman Perez has also called upon Senator Franken to step aside.

INSKEEP: Of course it's taken a couple of weeks to get to this point. What has the discussion been like among Democrats these last couple of weeks? How, if at all, has it evolved?

BRAZILE: Well, with the accusations that came about after Mr. Moore down in Alabama, the Me Too movement that started following Harvey Weinstein, as you know, there's an awakening taking place across the country. Women and, yes, men too are well aware of the sexual misconduct and harassment that has gone on for years. They have decided to come forward as Democrats who have upheld these principles of ensuring that we have a workplace free of any form of sexual misconduct. I think the party has been quite equivalent and strong in saying we have a zero-tolerance policy.

Now, I understand there's some complexity, especially as it relates to members of Congress. And I believe Democrats are going to come down hard on ensuring that taxpayers' money should not pay for these lawmakers. There's a meeting this morning. The House Administration Committee, they need to take a look at the system that puts the burden on the victims who come forward. That takes well over 90 days for them to even get a hearing and over 250 days to forward a complaint. So I think that Democrats are going to set new standards, standards that apply to everyone and not just simply to, you know, celebrities and members of Congress, but a standard that applies to all.

INSKEEP: Donna Brazile, one of the last accusers against Al Franken, Tina Dupuy, who is a writer, wrote an article in which she brought up the Democratic Party's own past and the party's past defense of Bill Clinton. And she writes, quote, "Democrats sold our soul," the suggestion seeming to be that Democrats helped to make the problem worse. Is that true, do you think?

BRAZILE: You know, I take some - you know, I don't like the broad brush because I recall back in those days that not every Democrat, not every American, you know, acquiesced. There were many people who spoke out, just like Anita Hill and that situation back in 1991, when many Democratic women of Congress walked across to the Capitol to demand that Anita Hill get a hearing. So I would like us to take a look at the entire story of the Democratic Party and not just one episode.

INSKEEP: OK. And, in a few seconds, are Democrats hoping to raise in a higher-profile way the accusations against President Trump?

BRAZILE: Not just President Trump, but we still believe there's no place in the United States Senate for Roy Moore. Someone who was banned from the Mall should not have a seat in the United States Senate. Yes, we're going to continue to raise the fact that we have someone who has harassed women who's sitting in the Oval Office, and Democrats will continue to point that out as well.

INSKEEP: Donna Brazile, thank you very much for the time. Really appreciate it.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: She's a former chair of the Democratic Party. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.