Saturday, February 10, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

Whether or not he realizes it, he accused himself of ruining two of his employees' lives.

Trump is apparently still worried about the fate of the two White House employees who lost their jobs this week amid disclosures that their histories of reported spousal abuse were keeping them from getting security clearances. (He has spoken several times on the subject now, but has yet to mention the women given black eyes or burned with cigarettes.) Showing an empathy he rarely displays except when the subject is men accused of beating or sexually harassing women, he tweeted:

As many people noticed, Trump has "merely alleged" more than a few things himself, with the explicit intention of "shattering and destroying lives." For example, in 1989 he spent $85,000 on a full-page ad calling for the death penalty for the so-called Central Park Five, black and Hispanic teenagers who were accused of raping a white woman. They were convicted based on what was later shown to be a coerced confession, then completely exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002. To this day, Trump continues to "merely allege" that they must be guilty all the same.

"Due process" is a legal term that doesn't apply to Rob Porter and David Sorenson, who don't face criminal charges for the assaults they've been accused of. But if Trump was trying to say that it was unfair that they had to leave, then he's stepping on his own story. After the Porter story broke, the White House changed its story several times about whether and when Porter was leaving, and whether he was being fired or resigning voluntarily. Finally, the Trump administration settled on a story that Porter had been fired immediately upon chief of staff John Kelly learning that the allegations were "true." (White House staff immediately contacted the Washington Post to say that they didn't really believe this.)

Although Porter's inability to get a security clearance affected his ability to do his White House job, there was nothing stopping Trump from insisting that he or Sorenson stay on. Given Trump's comments since their firings, it's not clear whether he simply believes they were innocent all along, or if he simply doesn't think that what they're accused of means they're unfit to work in the White House.

So what?

  • It's bad if a president's working assumption is that a woman who claims to have been beaten or sexually assaulted is making it up.