A day after he told a bunch of lies and made the world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly laugh at him, President Donald Trump held a bizarre solo press conference where he rambled on and on for about 81-minutes, talking about everything from alleged Chinese interference in the midterm elections to the situation in Cuba.
It was a wild ride.
However, it was his comment on sexual assault that became the most talked-about part of the evening. Not only did the commander-in-chief insist all the accusations leveled at his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a “big, fat con job” but also made false claims about similar allegation that he has been facing.
It all started with a fiery back-and-forth exchange between Trump and CNN's White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Since the president had called only been calling on male reporters, Acosta prefaced his question by asking if Trump could call on his female colleagues next.
Trump, in his typical petulant fashion, appeared offended.
“What — what does he mean by that?” the POTUS asked, looking visibly annoyed. “Explain. What — what does — what does that mean?”
When Acosta repeated his earlier statement, saying it would be great if a female reporter got a chance to pose the next question, the president dismissively said “I wouldn’t mind that at all” and “Wouldn’t make any difference to me.”
The CNN reporter then asked Trump the question everyone has been wondering for quite some time.
“Why is it, Mr. President, that you always seem to side with the accused and not the not the accuser? You have three women here who are all making allegations, who are all asking that their stories be heard,” Acosta began. “And you know, if you look at the case of Roy Moore, if you look at the case of one of your staffers, you seem to, time and again, side with the accused and not the accuser. Is that because of the many allegations that you’ve had made against you over the years?”
Former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of pedophilia and having relationship with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, yet he was endorsed by the president during his contentious election campaign. As for White House staffer Rob Porter, the administration reportedly knew about his ex-wives’ domestic abuse allegations against him, but still offered him a position in the West Wing.
However, instead of explaining why he tends to side with alleged sexual assailants – as the country has seen time and again, the former reality TV star talked about how he wasn’t a big fan of Roy Moore and only supported him because he was a Republican.
Trump has also slammed the women who accused Kavanaugh of misconduct.
Still refusing to answer the main question, Trump then segued into a one-sided discussion about how such allegations can go both ways and made a reference to the allegations made by Palo Alto University Professor Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh.
The alleged assault took place when the two were in high school.
“Allegations can go the other way also, you understand that. And whether it was a man or woman 30 years ago, 36 years ago, in fact I don’t even know how many years ago because nobody knows what the time is,” Trump continued. “That’s a long time and I could pick, as an example, hopefully I won’t have to do it as a replacement, because hopefully this is going to go very well on Thursday. It’s going to go very well on Monday or Saturday or Sunday or whenever they vote, but I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago also.”
He then insisted alleged victims were not reluctant to come forward and showed some empathy towards Ford, who is set to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I don’t think people are reluctant to come forward,” the president added. “They have major chance to speak and it will be tomorrow, I assume ... They’re giving the women a major chance to speak. Now it’s possible I’ll hear that and I’ll say hey I’m changing my mind. That is possible. We want to give them a chance to speak.”
A reporter then asked Trump if it was his own history of sexual abuse allegations influenced how he viewed the allegations now facing his Supreme Court nominee.
“I've had a lot of false charges made against me,” Trump replied. “Does it affect me in terms of my thinking, with respect to Judge Kavanaugh? Absolutely. Because I've had it many times.”
He then went on to make some false claims about the accusations leveled at him, highlighting one of the biggest reasons most victims of sexual assault are reluctant to come forward: they know they would be demonized and called a liar.
“I’ve been accused, I’ve been accused. I believe it was four women, you can check with Sean Hannity, you can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly,” the commander-in-chief told the reporters. “I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it. There were four women, and maybe more.
First of all, nearly two dozen women have accused Trump of making inappropriate advances and sexual misconduct, with allegations dating back decades.
Secondly, there is no evidence to back up the claims that those women were paid to “make up” stories.
“I think the number’s four or five. But one had her mortgage paid off her house, $52,000,” Trump added. “Another one had other things happen. And the one that reported it I believe was offered $750,000 to say bad things about me.”
As the Huff Post pointed out, Trump was probably referring to civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who is known for representing sexual abuse victims. Bloom had set up a GoFundMe page for her client Jill Harth, who filed a lawsuit against the real estate developer back in 1997, claiming he had attempted to rape her.
The fundraising campaign only managed to get about $2,300, and as Snopes found out, she never wanted her case to go public in the first place.
These lie and the attitude of men like Donald Trump (and almost all conservative leaders) is one of the biggest reasons most victims chose to stay silent and not raise their voice against the injustice they face.
In the era of #MeToo movement, where women from across the world are coming forward to expose the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault in all professions, Trump’s rhetoric is extremely damaging.
Although Kavanaugh’s future on the Supreme Court appears to be hanging in balance, it is important to note that Trump managed to be elected even after an audio recording of him bragging about grabbing women by their genitals was leaked.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Carlos Barria