Interior nominee grilled on Trump's comments on sexual assault

Zinke: Zero tolerance for sexual harassment
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Zinke: Zero tolerance for sexual harassment 02:31

Story highlights

  • The questions about military sexual assault came from combat veteran Tammy Duckworth
  • Zinke said he is committed to the issue in the Parks Service

Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of interior nominee faced tough questions Tuesday about his and Trump's views on sexual assault during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Illinois Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a combat veteran, asked Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke a series of questions about his views on sexual assault -- referencing specifically comments made by Trump. She cited a 2013 Trump tweet blaming military sexual assaults on the fact that men and women serve together -- which is widely criticized as victim the blaming -- as well as Trump's 2005 hot mic comments bragging about committing sexual assault.
Duckworth asked Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, how he would tackle problems of sexual harassment within the National Parks Service, where men and women serve in sometimes remote and rugged locations.
    "I take issues of sexual assault ... absolutely seriously," Zinke said, saying there is "zero" tolerance in the military.
    He said that needs to be true in the Parks Service, as well.
    "They have to know from leadership from the top to the bottom that we have zero tolerance," he said.
    Duckworth, who previously served in the House alongside Zinke, pressed over his introduction of a bill that would have women register for the draft, a policy he does not support. She called the move a "gimmick."
    "I think it's important for America to have that discussion ... I don't think it's a 'gimmick' to have that discussion about whether women should be in the selective service," he responded.
    Later, Zinke committed to Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow that he would study the issue of sexual harassment in the Parks Service.
    "You do have my commitment, I take it very, very seriously," Zinke said. "(Everyone) should absolutely have the right expectation of a work environment that is conducive to success. And if there is a culture of sexual harassment, that is flat wrong. And I'm going to stamp it out if confirmed."