House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she hasn’t been paying much attention to news about author E. Jean Carroll accusing President Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s.
Asked what Congress should do about Carroll’s claim, Pelosi suggested Democrats are too busy addressing policy issues, including how to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, to add that to their docket.
“Oh my gosh, we’re so immersed in what’s happening in Iran, what’s happening at our border,” Pelosi told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “So many policy issues that we have responsibility for, including keeping our elections safe today, as well as protecting the children to the best of our ability.”
“I haven’t spent any time on that,” she continued. “I just am not ― I don’t know the people you’re referencing. I don’t know the person making the accusation. I just am not ― I haven’t paid that much attention to it.”
Here’s Nancy Pelosi verbally shrugging in response to a question about what she thinks Congress should do about a credible rape accusation against the president. Not great. pic.twitter.com/NPoEUB3jgg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 27, 2019
Carroll made headlines Friday when New York magazine published an excerpt from her upcoming book “What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal,” in which she described Trump pulling down her tights in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s and forcibly penetrating her with his penis.
The famed advice columnist has said the alleged assault “hurt” and that she had to “put up a fight” to escape. She is one of more than a dozen women who say Trump sexually assaulted, groped or forcibly kissed them since the 1980s.
Trump has repeatedly denied sexually assaulting anyone, including Carroll. And despite the fact that the magazine story includes a photograph of Carroll with Trump, the president claimed Friday that he had never met the writer.
Pelosi on Thursday told reporters that she’s “more concerned” about coming to an agreement with Republicans on policy decisions that impact “the lives of the American people.” She said she respects any woman who comes forward to “present their case,” but she doesn’t know what role Congress could have in this case.
“This is about not what Congress would do, but what the president’s own party would do,” Pelosi said during the press conference. “You’d really have to ask them. I’m busy worrying about children not being in their mothers’ arms because of the policies that we may have.”
She added: “I’m respectful of any woman who comes forth with her story … Perhaps others [in Congress] are working on this but I’m not.”
Though many members of Congress have been tight-lipped about Carroll’s claim, at least one House Democrat and two Republican senators have called for some sort of an investigation into it. It’s unclear, however, what power Congress would have to do so.
“It’s a very serious allegation. … I hope that it is fully evaluated. The President said it didn’t happen and I certainly hope that’s the case,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told CNN, adding that he’s unsure whether Congress or another entity should perform the “evaluation.”
Earlier Thursday, The New York Times published an interview with two women who say Carroll told them about the sexual assault shortly after it allegedly occurred.
Author Lisa Birnbach said Carroll told her about the alleged assault minutes after leaving Bergdorf Goodman’s that day. Carol Martin, a former TV news anchor in New York, said Carroll confided in her within a few days after the incident.
“It wasn’t like she started crying or nothing that was a frantic kind of response to it,” Martin told the Times. “It was like, ‘I can’t believe this happened.’”
Watch Pelosi’s full press conference below. Her comments regarding Carroll’s allegation begin around the 15-minute mark.