WATCH: DNC Chair Tom Perez Says Party 'Never Hesitated To Take Action' On Sex Assault Claims

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Sunday that his party has "never hesitated" to take swift action on sexual assault claims, even in the case of Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, who was recently accused of domestic assault.

Perez made the claim during an interview with CNN's "State of the Union." Host Jake Tapper didn't buy Perez's assurances that the DNC was doing everything in its power to fully investigate claims leveled at its members.


Perez began his linguistic meltdown after Tapper asked him about Ellison specifically — and why Ellison remained a deputy chair of the DNC even though Ellison is under investigation by a House Ethics Committee and faced an independent investigation conducted by Minnesota's Democratic party earlier in the summer.

"What I say is that we should always take those complaints seriously, and we do, and that's why an investigation was conducted, that's why Congressman Ellison asked for a House Ethics investigation," Perez said. "And Democrats have never hesitated to take action, unlike Republicans."

Ellison denied his former partner's allegations and asked for the House Ethics Investigation himself, though; Perez had no part in handling that, and didn't initiate a separate investigation within the DNC — something Perez is likely entitled to do.

Jake Tapper didn't address that part of Perez's contention specifically, instead focusing on a broader mistake Perez seemed to make: insinuating that Democrats have, historically, been more adept at identifying, investigating, punishing, and controlling sexual predators in their midst.

"Democrats have never hesitated to take action," Perez said. "Do you mean in the last year or do you mean historically? Because historically, I could go through a list of people," Tapper pointed out, apparently referencing some big names, from former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to the late "Lion of the Senate," Ted Kennedy, both accused in multiple incidents of sexual impropriety.

Perez, of course, served in Sen. Kennedy's office as a special counsel.

"Well, and, again, you saw what happened in Sen. Franken's situation," Perez responded. "Democrats didn't hesitate to do something, even if it was difficult because that was the right thing to do."

But, of course, they did. Although Democratic senators like New York's Kirsten Gillibrand insisted at the time that pushing Franken out of the Senate were evidence of a "zero tolerance" policy within their ranks, it took more than half a dozen independent allegations before Democrats took action, and then, they still hesitated. Some Democrats have recently said that they regret pushing Franken out over a handful of groping incidents.

"I think Keith Ellison's ex-girlfriend deserves to be heard, and deserves to be treated with dignity, and deserves to have a fair and full investigation, and that's exactly what has been done," Perez continued, ending the line of questioning.

Perez then appeared to blame his own inaction on President Donald Trump, whom he believes is still worse for American women than Democrats who routinely ignore claims of sexual assault: "And I also believe that when women succeed, America succeeds. And the agenda of this administration is an agenda that's making it much harder for women to succeed."

Perez doubled down on his commitment to American women in a later interview with Quartz, calling himself a "feminist" and blaming "toxic masculinity" for "inequality."

Ellison, meanwhile, declined to run for another term in the House of Representatives and is instead competing to become Minnesota's next Attorney General. Earlier in the summer, it seemed Ellison would cruise to an easy win, but polls conducted in late October showed the race narrowing and Ellison in danger of becoming the first Democratic competitor to lose Minnesota's Attorney General race in decades.


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