Trump's history of defending men — and attacking the women who accuse them

Senior Editor
Yahoo News

President Trump appeared to express doubt on Saturday about the multiple accusations of domestic violence that led to the resignations former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen.

“Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”


The tweet came a day after Trump publicly addressed the Porter scandal, repeating Porter’s denial without mentioning his alleged victims.

“We wish him well,” Trump said while speaking to reporters at the White House. “It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career. And hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it. And certainly he’s also very sad. Now he also, as you probably know, he says he’s innocent. And I think you have to remember that.”

In an op-ed for Time magazine, Jennie Willoughby, Porter’s second ex-wife, treated Trump’s remarks as an insult.

“The words ‘mere allegation’ and “falsely accused” meant to imply that I am a liar,” Willoughby wrote. “That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted.”

While Willoughy said she was “floored” by Trump’s remarks, she “can’t say I was surprised.”

It wasn’t that surprising. Trump has a long history of defending men accused of sexual harassment and assault, including himself, but with the conspicuous exception of political opponents such as Bill Clinton and Al Franken.

Feb. 21, 1992

On NBC “Nightly News,” Trump defended boxer Mike Tyson, who was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island, in an Indianapolis hotel room the year before. Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison.

“It’s my opinion that, to a large extent, Mike Tyson was railroaded in this case,” Trump said. “You have a young woman that was in his room, his hotel room late in the evening at her own will. You have a young woman who was seen dancing for the beauty contest [the next day], dancing with a big smile on her face, looked happy as could be.”

March 29, 2016

After his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery after an alterecation with Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, Trump questioned the injuries she sustained when she reported the incident to police.

“How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?” Trump told reporters aboard his campaign plane. The then Republican candidate also questioned the closed-circuit television footage of the altercation.

“To me, you know if you’re going to get squeezed, wouldn’t you think that she would have yelled out a scream or something?” he said. “Take a look at her facial expression — her facial expression doesn’t even change.”

Trump refused to criticize Lewandowski, who claimed, despite video evidence, that he “never touched” and had “never even met” Fields.

“I’m sticking up for a person because I’m not going to let a person’s life be destroyed,” Trump said.

July 23, 2016

After former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes resigned in the wake of host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit, Trump issued a full-throated defense of the disgraced executive.

“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” the then Republican nominee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.”

“It’s very sad,” Trump lamented. “Because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly.”

Oct. 13, 2016

Trump lashed out at more than a dozen women who accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct.

“These people are horrible people,” Trump said at a rally in Florida. “They’re horrible, horrible liars. And it happens to appear 26 days before our very important election.”

He also threatened to sue the New York Times for printing a story about one of his accusers, suggesting the woman was part of a conspiracy by the Times and Hillary Clinton to derail his campaign.

“You take a look. Look at her,” Trump said, suggesting one of his accusers was not attractive enough for him to have pursued. “You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

April 5, 2017

Nine months after Ailes’s ouster, Trump came to the defense of Bill O’Reilly in the wake of a bombshell report that the top-rated Fox News host had paid settlements to at least five women who made harassment claims against him. O’Reilly was forced to leave Fox News after nearly 20 years at the top-rated cable network.

Trump said that O’Reilly, his longtime friend, “shouldn’t have settled” with his accusers.

“I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” Trump told the New York Times. “I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.”

Nov. 21, 2017

Trump urged Alabama voters to look past the disturbing allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore because the alternative was a Democrat.

At least nine women accused Moore of behavior ranging from uncomfortable and unwanted overtures to sexual assault. Most of the accusers said the misconduct occurred when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Moore fiercely denied the assault allegations.

As he did in Porter’s case, Trump quickly pointed to Moore’s denials.

“Well, he denies it,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Look, he denies it.

“He says it didn’t happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also.”

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