Revealed: Cain describes hand gesture that led to harassment claim; Update: Small settlement, says Cain

File that under “Headlines I never thought I’d write.”

Is this really it?

Cain told van Susteren that he remembered one woman who was a writer in the Association’s communications department. “I can’t even remember her name, but I do remember the formal allegation she made in terms of sexual harassment,” Cain said. “I turned it over to my general counsel and one of the ladies that worked for me, the woman in charge of human resources. They did investigate…and it was found to be baseless.”

Van Susteren asked Cain how often he saw the woman. “I might see her in the office because her office was on the same floor as my office,” Cain said. Van Susteren asked whether the woman traveled with Cain, who spent a lot of time on the road speaking to restaurant associations around the country. “No, never,” Cain said…

Van Susteren asked what Cain did that led to the accusation. There were reportedly more than one accusations in the complaint, but Cain said he recalled just one incident. “She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying — and I was standing close to her — and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, ‘My wife comes up to my chin.'” At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin. “And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable,” Cain said, “something that was in the sexual harassment charge.”

So that was part of it — an exceedingly lame part of it, if Cain’s memory is accurate — but maybe not all of it. The detail about “the woman in charge of human resources” is interesting too: Politico spoke to her last week and she denied ever having heard of a complaint by a woman employee against Cain. After Cain himself acknowledged today that the complaints had happened, Politico called her back — and she no longer wanted to talk. Very curious.

Ed and Tina have been all over this today but I still have two questions. One: Like Kevin Williamson, I don’t understand how Cain didn’t know at the time if a settlement had been reached or not. I understand why he didn’t have to consent to the settlement — it was the National Restaurant Association that presumably would have been sued, not Cain personally — but if my employer was inclined to pay five figures to someone who’d accused me baselessly of sexual harassment, I’d surely want to know it. Especially if I was thinking about running for office someday, when the settlement would surface and become a rolling clusterfark for the campaign. Two: Why hasn’t anyone revealed the amounts of the settlements yet? Politico said it saw “documentation” describing the allegations and asserted vaguely that the payouts were in “the five-figure range,” but that won’t cut it. The actual numbers matter. The smaller the payouts, the more likely it is that the claims were weak and that the NRA felt comfortable driving a hard bargain. Someone somewhere knows the numbers, whether inside Cain’s campaign, at the NRA, or in Politico’s newsroom. Let’s have ’em. The man’s credibility is at stake and that’ll be a useful data point.

Here’s a new clip showcasing his best moment at the National Press Club this afternoon, goofing on the Karen Finneys of the world who claim the right’s interest in him is chiefly as an aegis against racism charges. Exit quotation: “This many white people can’t pretend that they like me.”

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Update: Byron York updated the piece I linked above with this key detail:

Cain also offered new information about the settlement of the case. Politico, which broke the sexual harassment allegation story, said that the woman received a money settlement “in the five-figure range.” When van Susteren asked about that, Cain said, “My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.” When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said. “Maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”

“I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded” — and yet, this morning he claimed that he “wasn’t even aware” of a settlement. Maybe his campaign staff researched it and briefed him sometime between this morning and the interview with Greta? Or maybe, as a Twitter pal suggests, Cain was playing coy earlier because his lawyers had to double check on what he was legally able to disclose?

He also claims that he’s only aware of one formal complaint even though Politico claims there were two separate accusers. Stay tuned.

Update: An excellent point from Philip Klein. Politico was in touch with his staff for 10 days about this story. If Cain did get briefed this morning about the details of the settlements, why did it take the campaign 10 days to do that? They weren’t blindsided here.

Update: The Times asked a lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment claims whether it’d be unusual for the accused not to know about the settlement. The answer: It wouldn’t be unusual for him not to participate in the settlement, but knowing about it is a whole other matter.

“A prudent general counsel, will say, ‘Look–I want you out of the mix. You should not be involved in this.’” she said. The matter would not have to be taken up with the full board of an organization, and depending on its rules, could be handled by individual board members and officers.

But Mr. Cain’s further contention that he learned nothing more of the matter, she said, “completely defies credulity.” If the organization had, in fact, conducted a “thorough investigation,” as Mr. Cain said, he would have probably picked up a great deal of information from the questions that would have been put to him.

For most executives in this position, she said, it is only natural to inquire after the fact as to the outcome — even if it’s just to say, “Hey, what happened with that, and why are these ladies no longer here?”

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