House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will not investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault against President Trump because Congress does not handle criminal issues.
"As you know, the person in charge of that committee, Trey Gowdy, is given a very articulate responsibility, which are — those are criminal matters. Congress doesn't do criminal investigations," Ryan said on NBC.
“President Trump has been accused as well. 3 of those accusers recently asked for a Congressional investigation. They want you... Would you support such an investigation?” @savannahguthrie asks @SpeakerRyan about Trump/sexual misconduct pic.twitter.com/77yRIfumxa— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 20, 2017
Three of Trump's accusers — Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, and Samantha Holvey — called last week for a congressional probe into the matter. More than 100 Democratic lawmakers have called on the House committee to look into the allegations.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded that Congress does not need to investigate as the president has denied the allegations.
"The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations. And, this took place long before he was elected to be president," Sanders told reporters at the White House. "And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process."
Ryan, high off a major tax reform win this week, said he is working with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to introduce reform bills in Congress that would give victims of harassment more support.
"We need to make sure that this moment is the cultural changing moment it needs to be. And that means not only do we have to change our laws, not only do we have to change how disclosure and transparency work, not only do we have to change how the laws work going forward, but we need to change the culture," Ryan said. "Let's give this issue the respect it deserves so that we can change the culture so that we're not having this story a year from now."