Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat from California, gave a farewell speech this week as she prepared to officially resign from Congress.
The rising star and freshman lawmaker announced her resignation this month after images of her interacting romantically with a staffer came forward. Several right-leaning news websites published the images, which featured her in a fully-nude pose, BuzzFeed News reported.
The images came about, Hill has claimed, because her abusive ex-husband leaked them to the press.
Although ethics rules forbid relationships between lawmakers and staffers, the rules do not explicitly state that a member has to resign if they’re found to be in violation. Hill’s relationship with her staffer appeared to be consensual, though it still would have been a breach of ethical rules.
In her final statement to the full Congress, Hill made clear that she accepted her actions were wrong, and apologize for them. She also apologized to her family, her constituents, and the communities she represented in Congress within her remarks.
“The mistakes I made and the people I’ve hurt that led to this moment will haunt me for the rest of my life and I have to come to terms with that,” Hill said, per reporting from CNN. It was her first public statement since the images surfaced.
Hill said that as a result of a smear campaign by right-wing media, she received “thousands of vile, threatening emails, calls and texts” that caused her to “fear for my life and the lives of the people that I care about.” Being on the floor of the House on Thursday was the first time she had left her apartment since the scandal broke, she added.
The California Democrat hoped her story would be used for women in the future to not have to step down if they faced similar calls to do so where men have stayed in power, which she described as a “double standard.” Hill made direct comparisons to her situation, which was consensual, to accusations against President Donald Trump.
Rep. Katie Hill is resigning from Congress after facing allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with staffers in her office and on her campaign, per two Democratic sources.
Trump is still in office after two dozen allegations of sexual assault.https://t.co/uTAmwcjhK4
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) October 27, 2019
Hill added that her final vote in Congress — in favor of putting into place standards going forward for impeachment — was especially warranted, in her mind.
“Not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice or gross misconduct, but because of [Trump’s] deepest abuse of power, including the abuse of power over women,” she said.
At least 25 women have accused Trump of sexual assault or rape since the 1970s, Business Insider reported. The president, during his 2016 campaign for office, has called all of his accusers liars.
“Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” he said. To date, no such lawsuit from the president has materialized.