In October, 2016, ninety minutes before the second presidential debate, Donald Trump hosted a panel that comprised four women, all of whom accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct. One of them, Juanita Broaddrick, said “Actions speak louder than words,” in reference to Donald Trump’s recorded admission about grabbing women’s genitals, adding: “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s anything worse.”
I won’t argue that there is nothing worse, and whether her closing words were an editorial comment supplied by the Trump campaign or words from the heart, it was a statement that deserved to be made.
Fast forward to February, 2018—when the line of White House men accused of sexual misconduct and/or domestic violence forms on the right—and the same Donald Trump has found religion, or at least jurisprudence: even though he pronounced Bill Clinton guilty of sexual misconduct and/or assault regarding those four women sixteen months ago, he suddenly wants due process for men like Rob Porter and David Sorensen because, unlike Clinton, their guilt has not been “proven.”
Trump seems to have forgotten that Clinton’s has not been proven either.
I don’t like being in the position of defending Bill Clinton, but the law that works for Trump must work for everyone else too. Nobody wants to eliminate the presumption of innocence, but let’s not forget that this is the same Donald Trump who said of accused child molester Roy Moore that “[Moore] totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”
…and of course the same Donald Trump whom a dozen or so women have accused of sexual improprieties accrued during his career as a celebrity. His plea for due process becomes just another way of framing his own situation as a victim of angry and vengeful (and in Jessica Leeds’ case, he claims, “not attractive enough”) women.
Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Kathy Shelton composed that Trump pre-debate panel in 2016, after which they were seated in the audience in an attempt by Trump to gloss over the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, the ones in which he declared his uncontainable urges when it came to beautiful women.
The strategy was political, and complaining about the morality of it is just silly—entirely dependent upon your party of choice. But the principle of due process—one which Trump never suggested for Al Franken, for example—is one that Trump assumes will save him and exonerate Porter, Sorensen, and perhaps others whose deeds have not yet come to light. Too bad he’s willing to bypass that principle when it suits him.
He worries that men’s reputations might be ruined, while we wait for some Trumpian concern for the victims of Porter, Sorensen, Moore, himself(!)—the women who need photos or tapes to prove their veracity while the men, well, to paraphrase the president: they totally deny it; they say it didn’t happen.
Noted, Mr. Trump. Noted.