Heard on the Hill

Ashton Kutcher’s Lovefest With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Actor speaks on his organization’s efforts to stop human trafficking

Actor Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, prepares to testify during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Everyone agreed on two things in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Human trafficking should be stopped and Ashton Kutcher should be swooned over.

The actor, co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an organization that works to combat human trafficking, testified at the committee’s Ending Modern Slavery: Building on Success hearing on Wednesday.

Before the “That ’70s Show” actor began his heartfelt testimony about his work, he blew a kiss at Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“You were better looking in the movies,” McCain said.

“My wife says that, too,” Kutcher said.

Later in his testimony, the actor said McCain is “not only a war hero, but a hero to his issue.”

“He, by the way, flew all night. He’s working right now on a film,” chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said introducing Kutcher.

Corker said the actor had dinner with his wife, actress Mila Kunis, before taking a redeye to D.C.

“Very smart man on Valentine’s Day,” the senator said.  

“It’s a great day for us, a lot of work ahead,” he added, noting that the committee and its staffers were wearing red X pins on their lapels and some had red Xs written on their hands, a symbol of the END IT movement.

kutcher_BC_105_021517
From left, Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduces actor Ashton Kutcher to ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kutcher said he was thrilled to be in the room.

“I pledge my allegiance to that flag every single day and it’s an honor, maybe one of the greatest honors of my life today, is to be here,” the actor said opening his testimony.

“This is the time the Internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job. Let me tell you about my day job,” he said before explaining the work of Thorn to the committee.

Kutcher said he has seen victims of human trafficking in Russia, India, Mexico, New York and New Jersey.

“I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,” he said about going along on FBI raids.

To make a more powerful point, he added, “My other day job is I’m the father of two.”

“I’ve seen video content of a child that is the same age as mine being raped by an American man,” Kutcher said, tearing up. “She thought she was engaging in play.”

“That’s my day job and I’m sticking to it,” he added.

Kutcher discussed a web-based tool Thorn created, Spotlight, which is reducing the investigation time of trafficking cases by 60 percent.

While explaining other Thorn tools, Kutcher said the Department of Homeland Security asked him a while ago if his organization could help their efforts to find victims.

“I had to say no and it devastated me, it haunted me,” he said. “For the next three months I had to go to sleep every night and think about that little girl that was being abused and the fact that if I built the right thing, we could have saved her. Now, if I got that phone call, the answer would be yes.”

To help his efforts, he made recommendations, especially for financing.

“Did you believe Abraham Lincoln had to consider the economic backlash of shutting down the cotton fields?” Kutcher said.

When senators trickled out of the room to vote, Corker called for a recess.

“These people are coming back, by the way, we have a vote underway,” the chairman explained to Kutcher.

 “I prefer not to talk to no one, although I do it quite often,” Kutcher responded.

Attendees walked up to take photographs of the actor and committee staffers had to stop the charge toward him.

After returning from their vote, Corker tried to wrap things up, telling Kutcher, “I know you’ve got a couple of days jobs… We’ll try to keep [follow up questions] to a minimum knowing you’ve got a couple other things you do in life.”

The hearing precedes the END IT Movement’s fifth annual Shine a Light on Slavery Day on Feb. 23.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.