A famous quote from the Watergate investigation from Republican Senator Howard Baker was ” What did the President know and when did he know it?”.
Today Heather du Plessis-Allan asks much the same question. She writes:
We’ve asked the Prime Minister to come on the show this evening to answer questions about the Labour party staffer sex allegations.
Our requests went unanswered.
This is what we want to ask her: When did she know that the allegations against a staffer in her office were of an alleged sex crime?
She told media yesterday: ”I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual.”
She told RNZ this morning that she found out yesterday.
“The first I’ve seen the complaints of that nature was when I read then.” Asked when that was, she said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”
That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.
If you believe that yesterday was the first the Prime Minister heard of this, then you must believe that the Prime Minister of this country does not watch, read or listen to the news reported in this country.
That she for the last five weeks has missed every bulletin, newspaper and programme that mentioned the fact this guy is alleged to have committed a sexual crime.
It is nearly impossible to believe.
You have to also believe that the Prime Minister didn’t ask what allegation was so serious that a staffer in her office stopped coming to work five weeks ago.
You also have to square it with this comment she made yesterday in her press conference”:
“A month ago I visited New Zealand [Labour Party] Council. Very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour of members of the Labour Party. But particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. And that would be their view too.”
Why would she say to the Labour Party council that they were not the right people to investigate an alleged sex crime, if she didn’t know the allegations were of a sex crime?
Because she did. She did know.
Of course she knew.
On the 6th of August, one day after the story broke in the media, Mike Hosking raised it with her right here on this station.
He asked her: “How many people have quit your party as a result of this investigation into this bloke who may or may not have sexual assaulted someone?”
Her response was: “I’m going to be very careful answering that question Mike because this is an inquiry and work is still underway and it is still a party matter.”
Exactly when the Prime Minister knew is important for a bunch of reasons.
Did she fail in her duty of care to staffers and volunteers? Was this supposed to be covered up? But mostly it’s important because this is now about her integrity
It’s becoming increasingly hard to believe her version of events, and possibly this is the first time that we’ve had reason to question Jacinda Ardern’s honesty.
This makes it very likely that Party President Nigel Haworth will be thrown under the bus. Ardern is far too vital to Labour to be allowed to take the blame for this, so Haworth will go to allow her to look like she is taking action.
Bear that in mind with this Newshub story:
Newshub has obtained emails that show Labour was sent details six months ago of sexual assault allegations against a party staffer.
Not a party staffer, but a staffer in Jacinda’s office.
Jobs are now on the line.
The Prime Minister said she will expect Haworth’s resignation if he’s found to have done something wrong.
Haworth said he is “not resigning” but will “look into my situation as the process develops”.
National leader Simon Bridges suggested the blame’s falling on the wrong person.
“Whose employee is this person? It’s not Nigel Haworth’s – it’s Jacinda Ardern’s,” he said.
It’s one of the few facts not being disputed.
Can you imagine that she wasn’t fully briefed considering it involved one of her own staff. To not be knowing what is happening in your own office is either incompetence of the highest order, or they’re lying.
UPDATE: Cactus Kate has a must read take on this.