The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump started things down this slope. He famously bragged on the “Access Hollywood” tape (yes, it was him) that “when you’re a star they let you do it,” and even now is standing by Roy Moore on the grounds that “he totally denies it.”
But that doesn’t leave Nancy Pelosi on firm ground. The House Democratic leader’s defense of Rep. John Conyers – calling him “an icon in our country” who “has done a great deal to protect women,” and declining to say she believes Conyers’ accusers – makes the partisan nature of reactions to the sexual harassment scandals bipartisan.
The Michigan congressman is now stepping away from his post as the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Pelosi issued a statement declaring that “zero tolerance means consequences.”
The cleanup, though, is unlikely to suffice to Pelosi’s many critics, both inside and outside the Democratic Party. Democrats are still hoping to occupy high ground in the national disgrace surrounding revelations of powerful men who abuse power.
Pelosi has been under pressure for years from a new generation of lawmakers to step aside from leadership; look for those rumblings to grow now.
And as Congress comes back to town, the stock answer – to let the ethics committees handle matters, whether it’s Conyers or Sen. Al Franken or whoever will be next on the list – seems increasingly hollow. “That’s not real, and that’s not accountability,” Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said Friday.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
For Roy Moore, it’s now an audience of one.
After President Donald Trump’s comments last week in which he defended Moore against allegations of sexual misconduct, the embattled U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama has continued to use the president’s comments to boost his campaign in the crucial final weeks before the Dec. 12 special election.
Blasting out the president’s comments in a fundraising appeal, taking to Twitter to attack his Democrat opponent, Moore isn’t just taking a page from Trumpist politics. He’s taking the whole book.
Like Trump in the wake of the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape on which he was recorded making a vulgar comment about women, Moore, with the election just a little more than two weeks away, looks like he’s going to stick with a position of defiance.
For now, the president seems content to try and direct all the attention toward Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, but it remains to be seen whether his anti-Jones tweets will have their intended effect. It wasn’t long ago that Trump made a last-ditch attempt to help sitting Sen. Luther Strange take down Moore in the GOP primary, but ended up sparking a national firestorm over NFL players protesting the national anthem.
The TIP with Katherine Faulders
President Trump is back at the White House after a six-day Thanksgiving holiday at his Florida estate in Palm Beach.
Upon arriving at the White House, Trump ignored shouted questions from the media about whether he would campaign for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (and about passing tax cuts) — but the president didn’t engage.
A senior White House official told ABC News on Sunday there are no plans for Trump to campaign for Moore. Of course, the president himself has not directly confirmed that, only teasing a possible decision to come this week.
For now, the president will kick off the week focused on taxes. The White House said the president made some phone calls on tax overhaul while he was in Florida. On Tuesday, he plans to head to Capitol Hill to meet with the Senate GOP on the matter.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If you had asked me two weeks ago, ‘Would any woman say I had treated her with disrespect?’ I would have said no. So this has just caught me by surprise …” — Sen. Al Franken on whether he expects any other allegations about him to come to light.
NEED TO READ
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