Reminder: Trump Bragged About Sexual Assault and Blamed His Accusers For Being Too Ugly
In the past few months, we’ve seen a wave of allegations of both sexual harassment and assault that have ruined careers of powerful men in the entertainment industry and world of politics. It’s a remarkably ugly and growing series of sexual misconduct stories – that shows no sign of abating any time soon.
But there is one very important individual who has thus far dodged any political comeuppance or consequence for his alleged behavior: President Donald Trump.
Some might suggest that the recent avalanche of misconduct charges feels like past behavior being weaponized for political gain. And in some instances that may be true. But, presuming that charges can be reasonably verified, that shouldn’t matter at all. The fact that lecherous behavior is finally being called out is nothing less than a terrific development for anyone who believes in a social contract of acceptable behavior.
So if we are going to take down the political career of Roy Moore over believable but unverified allegations, and therefore hold Senator Al Franken to the same standard, then why is President Trump getting a pass? Yes, each of these cases is different and should be treated uniquely. But there are enough similarities to suggest that there are different standards.
To sum up: Moore has had numerous women go public and retell stories of his misconduct. The Moore campaign has utilized the “best defense is a good offense” tactic by blaming a media conspiracy designed to bring him down. But in the parlance of at least one former president (and alleged sexual miscreant) that dog won’t hunt — at least judging by recent polls in the Alabama senate race.
In the instance of Franken, there appears to be actual proof of his misconduct in the form of a photo of his appearing to grab his USO co-host Leanne Tweeden, who is nothing if not a believable re-teller of her experiences with Franken’s unwanted groping and kissing. Some have suggested that comparing behavior between Moore (and alleged attempted rapist) and Franken (whose behavior David Frum dismissed as “boorish”) is a false equivalence. But the key difference is that damning photo of Franken posing with his really poor judgment on full display.
Which brings us to the Commander-in-Chief.
Lest we forget that during last year’s remarkably bitter and, at times, surreal, general election, over a dozen women publicly alleged similar charges against President Trump when he was a private citizen. And of course, there is that leaked audio of Donald Trump bragging to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that “when you are a star, you can get away with anything” and that sometimes he grabs women “by the pussy.” Yes, he really said that and he is currently the President of the United States.
When pressed about his bragging of sexual assault by debate moderator Anderson Cooper, then-candidate Trump unequivocally denied that he ever did the things that he bragged about in that now-famous audio leak. And if anyone ever made specific charges alleging that he did that, that would be corroborating evidence, right? Well, there is.
In the weeks before the November 8th vote, The New York Times reported two specific accusations made by women who alleged that Trump had groped them. Rachel Crooks described, on the record, an encounter with Trump in which she received an unwanted kiss on the mouth during a shared elevator ride. Jessica Leeds described sitting next to Mr. Trump in the first class section of a flight in which he had his hands all over her. She even goes so far as to say that if his unwanted groping had stayed above her waist she may have stayed quiet, but it was his alleged attempt to put his hands up her skirt that led her to speak out.
Trump defended at least one of these claims by suggesting that the accuser was too ugly to draw his unwanted advances, imploring an adoring campaign rally crowd to “look at her” — at some point before or after chants of “lock her up” were probably cheered.
The precipitous falls of previously considered giants of the earth like Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Brett Ratner, Roger Ailes, and now quite potentially, politicians like Roy Moore and Al Franken, suggest that we are entering a brave new world where inappropriate touching and sexual misconduct are no longer dirty secrets. And that victims are now finally encouraged to speak out, and more importantly, are taken seriously.
But if we are going to take seriously these allegations towards powerful men, then we should we also more closely re-examine President Trump’s past. I mean, there is audio of his bragging about grabbing a woman’s vagina, which is more than enough evidence to hold him as accountable as we’re holding Moore and Franken. It’s time for the double standard to end.
Colby Hall is the Managing Editor of Mediaite and fervently believes in a social contract of treating people in the manner that you would like to be treated yourself. Follow him on Twitter @ColbyHall.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.