President Donald Trump’s Transportation Secretary told women who have been the victim of past sexual harassment must “let it go” and move on with the rest of their lives.
Elaine Chao, who is also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, made the remark during Politico’s Women Rule Summit on Tuesday.
Chao said that coming forward or dealing with past incidents of sexual misconduct “holds you back” in the professional world. Chao seemed to offer advice from both sides of her mouth, on one hand offering to support women, but also telling them to leave trauma in the past.
“I will fight for other women and I will stand up for other women, but, of your own, you gotta let it go,” Chao said. “Because otherwise, it’s too corrosive, it’s too negative, and it does you a double injury because it holds you back.”
Referring to the “#MeToo” campaign on social media to raise awareness of how common sexual harassment and abuse are, Chao said she had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but chose not to reveal who that person was.
“The person is still here and they’re still around,” she said. “Things change, times change, and it’s not worth my while to go back and revisit those negative moments.”
Another Trump administration official, Kellyanne Conway, was also in attendance at the summit.
Chao’s comments indicating that victims of sexual harassment should not come forward or out their abusers for the sake of their jobs were made the same week that President Donald Trump fully endorsed Alabama Republican and Senate candidate Roy Moore. Moore has been accused by numerous women of past sexual conduct when they were in their teens and Moore was in his 30’s.
The Republican National Convention — which had cut ties with Moore last month — said it was reestablishing fundraising efforts for Moore.
Chao’s husband McConnell had initially said he believed Moore’s accusers and indicated that Moore should end his campaign, but has since walked those comments back.