Sunday, September 15, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He once again declared that women who report sexual assault are lying.

Yesterday, the New York Times released an excerpt of a forthcoming book on Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The authors corroborated the claim raised by his former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez that he pulled down his pants at a party and pushed it towards her face, forcing her to swat it away. The excerpt also reports on a separate party where witnesses say Kavanaugh pushed his penis into a woman's hand.

Ramirez's accusations did not get the same attention as those made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, whom Kavanaugh reportedly assaulted while drunk at a high school party, and who testified against him directly at his confirmation hearing. Trump stonewalled allowing an FBI investigation until it became clear that Kavanaugh's nomination was in jeopardy, and then only allowed one that lasted a few days and had to carefully observe certain limits

The NYT report makes clear that the FBI was either unable, or—given Trump's absolute insistence that Kavanaugh must be found innocent—unwilling to pursue most of the leads they had about Kavanaugh's alleged crimes against women.

Today, Trump waded back into the debate, calling all of Kavanaugh's accusers liars and saying that Kavanaugh should sue them for "liable." (He later corrected it to "libel.")

While Trump is sometimes confused about what a libel suit would involve, he's correct that Kavanaugh could sue anyone making such an accusation. But any such trial would make Kavanaugh subject to an actual investigation, and force him to testify. This is why Trump has never made good on his own threats to sue the many women who have accused him of sexual violations ranging from harassment to rape.

In spite of some calls for his impeachment, Kavanaugh's Supreme Court seat is not likely in jeopardy, given that removing him would require 67 votes in the Senate. But it's no mystery why Trump is anxious to defend him: he has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by at least 24 girls and women. In spite of having admitted on tape to some of the same acts he's accused of here—for example, sexually grabbing women or using his status as a hotel owner to peep on pageant contestants while they undressed—Trump insists that every single one of them is lying.

Kavanaugh is hardly the only friend or supporter that Trump has defended against allegations of rape or harassment. He's also branded as liars the women who have accused former Fox pundit Bill O'Reilly, accused pedophile and Trump-endorsed Senate candidate Roy Moore, Mike Tyson (with whom Trump had a business relationship), Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and White House aide Rob Porter.
In fact, there are only two times that Trump has shown any willingness to believe that a woman has been sexually mistreated. The first was during his publicity-seeking vendetta against the so-called Central Park Five, a group of black and Hispanic teenagers wrongfully charged with the rape of a jogger. The victim in that case was unconscious and did not accuse them directly. (To this day, Trump continues to maintain, in the face of DNA evidence, that they must be guilty and should be executed.) The other time was immediately before a debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he invited as his guests three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.

Why should I care about this?

  • People's actions are what determine whether they're innocent of an accusation, not how Donald Trump feels about them.
  • Finding out the truth about criminal acts committed by people in high office is more important than Donald Trump's political needs.
  • People in power assuming that all women are lying about sexual crimes is why women don't report sexual crimes.