Transcript: Rep. Jackie Speier on "Face the Nation," Nov. 19, 2017

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, joined "Face the Nation" Sunday to discuss the fallout from the flood of sexual assault and harassment allegations across the U.S., and sexual harassment in Congress. 

What follows is a transcript of the interview with Speier -- an advocate for more rules to combat harassment in Congress -- that aired Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: The debate over sexual harassment moved into the halls of Congress after California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier went public with her own experience of unwanted sexual advances as a young Capitol Hill staffer. Speier's revelation actually inspired Leeann Tweeden to come forward with her allegations against Senator Franken.  

This week, Congresswoman Speier introduced legislation in the House aimed at fighting sexual harassment in Congress. And she joins us this morning from Palm Springs, California. Congresswoman, I want to start with something you wrote. You said that, "It's clear the good old boys club mentality of Capitol Hill still persists after all these years. It is perhaps the worst I've seen in 30 years of working on these issues." The old boys club was pretty bad. You're saying it's worse now?

JACKIE SPEIER: Well, I think it's worse in part because we have a system in place that allows for the harasser to go unchecked. Doesn't pay for the settlement himself and is never identified. So the Office of Compliance to which a victim must apply or complain is a place that has really been an enabler of sexual harassment for these many years because of the way it's constructed.

JOHN DICKERSON: As Congress and the larger culture tries to figure out what the standard is for treating accusers who come forward, something better than what has been where they've been blocked, but also something that doesn't allow false accusations, how does that standard get determined, in your mind?

JACKIE SPEIER: Well, first of all, we have to make sure that a complaint is taken seriously. And the person who is the victim is not somehow tortured or intimidated into not filing the complaint. That's what it is right now in Congress. There's a one month period where you're counseled. There's another month where you go through mandatory mediation and you have to sign a non disclosure agreement at the front end.

And then you have a month of cooling off period. I mean, that is truly ridiculous. It's important for us to remember too, John, that over 90% of those who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted are telling the truth. So all these victims who have come forward with Roy Moore or with the president or with Al Franken, all of them have to be, we expect to believe them because, for the most part, they are telling the truth. There is no gain for them to come forward. There're lots of down sides, frankly.

JOHN DICKERSON: What's your view about reevaluating the situation? You mentioned the president. The White House seems to suggest, and Senator Cotton also seemed to suggest that the voters knew about this. They voted for him. And so it's an issue that's in the past. How do you see it?

JACKIE SPEIER: Well, I think there is some truth to that. If the president was running today, I bet he would not be elected because I think we have had a huge cultural shift that was 40 years in the making, but I think all of us are grateful now that there is a new day for women in the workplace, where they do not have to put up with sexual advances that are unwanted. That they do not have to live and work in a hostile work environment. And that's going to be good for all of us in the workplace.

JOHN DICKERSON: As that cultural shift takes place, some people have argued, some Democrats and liberals have argued, that a reevaluation of Bill Clinton's presidency is required. What do you think about that in order to be clear about what the new standard is and use, you know, elements from the past that are well known?

JACKIE SPEIER: Well, first of all, let's remember that he did face impeachment. It wasn't as if it was just tossed to the side. He faced impeachment. I think that the victims who came forward were not treated as they should have been. They should have been believed because, as I have pointed out, most people who come forward are telling the truth.

JOHN DICKERSON: In the case of Al Franken, what's your feeling about that? There have been some columnists who've written that basically again, liberals have said he must leave the Senate in order for Democrats to retain their credibility on this issue, or else they're open to the charge that Democrats apply it when it comes to Republicans, but are more generous when it comes to their own team.

JACKIE SPEIER: I think it's appropriate for the ethics committee to do an investigation. Senator Franken has actually agreed to that as well. I also think that it has to be determined if there's a pattern of sexual harassment. Incidents have to be severe or they have to be ones that happen over a period of time. So I think we'll wait and see what the investigation determines.

JOHN DICKERSON: Is that an instructive distinction then, pattern versus specific mistake in terms of what might penalize somebody but be the difference between penalizing and expulsion?

JACKIE SPEIER: And that's what the Courts have held with sexual harassment cases. If there's a pattern, then sexual harassment is found to be in existence. If it's a one event and it's maybe a conversation versus, you know, sexual assault or an unwanted sexual advance, so it really depends on the circumstances in all of these cases.

JOHN DICKERSON: Final question on a different topic, on taxes. Eleven of your Republican colleagues in California voted for the House tax cut bill in which deductibility of state and local taxes is no longer allowed. They were told- at least one of them was told, "Well, that'll get fixed later. And Californians who have high taxes will be able to deduct them." What's your-do you believe that?

JACKIE SPEIER: No, I don't believe it. And I think for all of those members who basically have handed their constituents a $10,000 tax increase, that's what we're talking about. When you take the state and local taxes and the property taxes and the mortgage deduction that is reduced to $500,000, it is a huge hit for every single California family.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us. And we'll back in one--

JACKIE SPEIER: Thank you, John.

JOHN DICKERSON:--minute with White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.