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writing for godot

Congressional Dems Can (and Should) Conduct Their Own Hearings About Sexual Misconduct

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Written by David Bass   
Monday, 11 December 2017 14:18

October 5, the day the New York Times published its explosive investigation of  decades of sexual harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, was probably the tipping point.

Pretty soon, #MeToo was trending, a growing list of high profile individuals have been outed and/or resigned over serial sexual misconduct, Time magazine has named The Silence Breakers as 2017’s Person of the Year, and now multiple accusers of President Donald Trump plus a large group of Democratic congresswomen and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand all are calling on Congress to investigate Trump’s accusers’ claims

The Republicans in charge of Congress won’t do that.  But the Democrats can, and should.  Here is how.

In previous articles about Tax Reform and Healthcare Reform, I suggested that Democrats hold unofficial, off-site “mock” hearings on these important issues if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell weren’t going to allow a regular legislative process.

This time there is no rush to pass a bill.  There is plenty of time to set up and stage mock hearings.  The Democrats can form their own ad hoc committee, which does not have to follow normal Congressional committee structures, because the hearings won’t be officially sanctioned.

With private funding, the Democratic joint investigative committee can set up a hearing room that looks just like a Congressional hearing room.  Invite victims of sexual misconduct – many of whom have already gone public with their stories in mainstream news media, cable news, social media and elsewhere – to come and testify under oath.  Let the full stories be told and archived, not just the media sound bites and edited-for-space articles we’ve seen so far.

If charges should be brought for crimes committed under existing law, put the justice system to work.  If new laws need to be enacted or existing laws strengthened, build the case.

Show the country how a hearing should be managed.  Invite the news media and publish transcripts.  This way, a far more comprehensive record of the scope of predatory behavior by powerful men can be pulled together in a single place than has been attempted to date.

This isn’t without risks.  Numerous Democrats have already been named as serial perpetrators of sexual misconduct.  Surely there are more, and they deserve to be publicly named and shamed.  Some may decide to recede from public life before the shoe drops on them, and that’s OK.

The joint committee’s motto should be:  “There are no secrets!”

Of course, Donald Trump’s and Roy Moore’s accusers would get their opportunity to testify too.  It should be riveting.

Getting started is really simple.  A handful of Congressional Democrats demanding hearings can stop acting like they have no power in this Congress, redirect some of their fundraising efforts to pay for mock hearings, and get started on the most impactful process of their generation.

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