Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) said Wednesday that she isn’t sure what to do about her Democratic colleagues facing sexual harassment allegations.
Hirono did not say Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn) or Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) should step down, adding that the world is not "so black and white" as to make it clear what to do. Franken was photographed with his hands over a sleeping woman’s breasts and Conyers is facing numerous harassment allegations, but Hirono called for regular procedures to continue.
"I think that we are [cleaning up politics] in the sense that we have procedures, you know?" Hirono said to MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "We are figuring out how we can best deal with the kinds of complaints that have come forward, the allegations."
She was quick to say that the problem is not confined to the Democratic Party and extends to other parties and industries. Todd countered by saying, "you have to start somewhere," and he asked Hirono if she was comfortable working with Conyers and Franken.
"I have served with them before we knew that they engaged in this kind of behavior—which, by the way, anybody who engages in this kind of behavior should be held accountable—but notice that good people do bad things," Hirono replied. "Gee, I wish that life were so black and white that you can't think of a single good person who has done bad things."
Hirono emphasized that the problem is cultural and argued that people should not focus too much on individual offenses.
"This gets a little complicated but occurs in a culture where women are seen as objects," she said. "It's going to keep on happening; it’s not going to change unless we as a culture can get our arms around: what the hell are we going to do with this?"
Todd asked for her to hold leaders accountable first, and Hirono said that all should be accountable, but then quickly turned the topic to allegations against President Donald Trump. Todd inquired about this.
"There seems to be a hesitance to be too critical of a member of your own party, but for instance, just now you had no problem going after President Trump," he said, saying that politicians across the board seem to show this partisanship.
Hirono said that the partisan nature of the debate further shows that she is right that it is a cultural problem that has to be faced collectively. She defended her stance on Conyers and Franken by saying "there are good people who do bad things" and she cannot "assuage everyone’s concerns" with what she says.
Todd said he understands why Hirono is not yet blaming Democratic leadership, but he said there is a problem with "political tribalism."
Democratic leaders have expressed concerns over the allegations against Franken and Conyers but have said that the ethics committees should proceed as usual. Meanwhile, some Democrats, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) have called for Conyers to resign.