Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday said that his department’s employees will be subject to mandatory sexual harassment training by June 1 and are expected to intervene and take action against any misconduct they witness.
Speaking to embassy staff in Cairo, Tillerson said: “There is no form of disrespect for the individual that I can identify, anything more demeaning than for someone to suffer this kind of treatment.”
He added, “It’s not okay if you’re seeing it happening and just look away. You must do something. You must notify someone. You must step in and intervene.”
Tillerson’s comments came just two days after President Donald Trump tweeted his sympathy for those accused of sexual harassment and domestic violence, saying that they were not given “due process” and that their lives and careers are “destroyed by a mere allegation.”
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Trump’s tweet, posted on Saturday morning, was taken as a defense of White House Secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen, who have both been accused by ex-wives of being physically and verbally abusive. Porter and Sorensen vehemently deny the accusations against them, with Sorensen alleging that his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, in fact abused him.
Porter’s first ex-wife actually has a photo of herself with a black eye he said he gave her, and his second wife obtained a temporary emergency protective order after Porter punched through the glass on the front door and refused to leave her home. Corbett told the Washington Post that during their brief marraige, “Sorensen ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast, an incident she said left her fearing for her life.”
On Monday morning, Fox & Friends hosts repeatedly asked White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley to ask the president to condemn domestic violence.
Trump has a history of sympathizing with the men accused of misconduct, and has himself boasted that he feels entitled to grab women by the genitals. He has also been accused of sexual assault by 14 women, and has a long history of defending me who have raped, assaulted, and harassed women, from Mike Tyson to Bill O’Reilly.
A State Department official told ThinkProgress that the mandatory training will include employees who have diplomatic immunity overseas. This means that consequences stemming from misconduct will apply to all State Department employees — including diplomats — regardless of where they and who they mistreat.
Note: This piece has been updated to include a response from the State Department.