ST. PAUL - The day after U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's ex-girlfriend went on TV to stand by her allegations that he physically abused her once, Ellison faced the full media for the first time.
Again he denied the allegations, and then went door-knocking, vowing to press forward with his general election bid for attorney general.
"All I can say is, I did not do this thing she's accusing me of," said Ellison, who handily won the Democratic primary Tuesday, Aug. 14, after allegations surfaced over the weekend from Karen Monahan.
Monahan alleges that in 2016, Ellison grabbed her ankle and pulled her off a bed in his Minneapolis home while screaming profanities at her. Monahan's adult son, Austin, first made the allegations public with a Facebook post in which he said he had seen a video recording of the incident. But Monahan has said several times that, while the video exists, she will not release it or show it to anyone because it's too "humiliating."
The allegations have shaken up the race-and particularly the Democratic Party, where Ellison has held star power as an outspoken progressive against President Donald Trump. Party leaders have cautiously continued their support for Ellison as they grapple with a subtheme of the #MeToo movement: #IBelieveHer.
For example, when asked Thursday whether he believed Monahan, Gov. Mark Dayton responded "I don't know," adding later, "I want to know the facts." Dayton said his endorsement of Ellison stands.
Ellison won't withdraw
On Saturday, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's Central Committee will meet to vote on endorsements for the November general election, which, as it stands now, will pit Ellison against Republican Doug Wardlow.
When asked Friday if he would withdraw from the race, Ellison answered flatly, "No," and he said no one in the party had asked him to. He said he would attend the DFL meeting in Cambridge to ask for the endorsement.
So it appears, under state law, that Ellison will remain on the November ballot, even if the party were to not endorse him. State law has provisions for removing someone from the ballot or nullifying the election, but none apply to this situation.
Monahan goes on TV
On Thursday, Monahan gave her first televised interview with CBS News in which she described the incident in the home where she and Ellison, who was divorced at the time, both lived:
"I was still in bed, and I was laying across the bed on my stomach. I was listening to my podcast, and he walked in. He said, 'I need you to take the trash out' ... and he looked at me, he goes, 'Hey, you f---ing hear me?' And then he looked at me. He goes, 'B----, get the f--- out of my house.' And he started trying to drag me off the bed. That's when I put my (cellphone) camera on to video him."
She told CBS she never reported the incident to police but told a friend about it. CNN has reported that three friends, who would not allow their names printed, have said Monahan told them of the alleged incident at the time. Austin Monahan has said he came across the video on his mother's computer in 2017.
The timing of the allegations has drawn scrutiny. In social media posts, Monahan has said it had nothing to do with the primary, and she has not called for Ellison to step down or asked voters not to support him. An organizer in the Sierra Club's North Star Chapter, she has a history of political involvement but does not appear to have done any work or made any reportable donations to any campaign recently.
When asked by CBS why she came forward now, Monahan responded: "I followed my gut-the gut that I kept trying to push down."
Should she have to show the video?
Monahan has said she shouldn't have to show the video to be believed-and at least one prominent women's rights group backs her.
On Thursday, the National Organization for Women said Ellison "must withdraw" from the race.
"It's very simple. We believe survivors," the group said.
Ellison on #IBelieveHer
The question was asked of Ellison on Friday: Should it be necessary for women to provide evidence if they claim they have it?
Here's some of what he said:
"That's a tougher question. ... I'm not the one who claimed to have evidence. I think the person who said they had something, it's on them to produce it. But at the same time, look, this happens within a context of a society where millions of women have been mistreated, abused, hurt. And they haven't been believed, and that's real."
His message to women who have supported him?
"Their trust in me was well-placed, and not only did I not do this, I will continue to be an advocate for safe homes for all people, especially women. I will continue to be a fierce opponent of domestic violence. ... I believe that every person who's a victim should be listened to. I don't believe that everybody who says something should be believed just because they said it, but I do believe people should be listened to."