That Donald Trump has a long history of misogyny is beyond dispute. However, recent events have revealed that that Trump's misogyny may well have crossed the border from mundane chauvinistic piggery into the realm of sexual assault.
October 7 was a bad day for Donald Trump. That was the day that "pussygate" became a household word with the release of this video.
Anderson Cooper asked Trump about this video during the second presidential debate. Pay close attention from 1:24-1:50 of the next video where Trump explicitly denies that he ever kissed or groped women without their consent.
The pussygate video and Trump's denial during the second debate that he ever groped women or kissed them without their consent opened up the floodgate to new accusations that he is a sexual assaulter. Huffington Post is keeping a running tally of all the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. As of October 16, twelve women have stepped forward--four who went public before the second debate and eight who stepped forward after the debate. This count does not include Donald Trump's first wife who used the word "rape" during their divorce hearings to describe Trump's behavior but who recanted her story later. The woman who is suing Trump for allegedly raping her when she was just 13 years old remains anonymous. The others have revealed their names. I will look at the stories of three of these women because each has at least one detail that makes it particularly credible.
Natasha Stoynoff, a reporter for People magazine clamed that Trump groped her when she was interviewing him for a story about his wedding anniversary with Melania. Here is the most important part of her story, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.
We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.
What makes Stoynoff's account particularly believable? Believe it or not, it wasn't anything that Stoynoff said or wrote. Instead, it was something that Melania Trump's lawyer wrote and that Melania Trump posted to her Twitter account that has convinced me that Stoynoff was telling the truth. But before I get to that, I need to cite one more passage where Stoynoff describes an incidental encounter between her and Melania that, at first blush, seems unimportant.
I asked to be taken off the Trump beat, and I never interviewed him again. A few months later, I saw Trump at the memorial service of a mutual friend, designer Oleg Cassini. We were both giving eulogies, but I avoided him. That winter, I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron.
“Natasha, why don’t we see you anymore?” she asked, giving me a hug.
I was quiet and smiled, telling her I’d missed her, and I squeezed little Barron’s foot. I couldn’t discern what she knew. Did she really not guess why I hadn’t been around?
Naturally, Melania Trump's lawyer wrote a letter demanding that the article be taken down because it defamed Donald Trump. Oops! That's not quite what happened. Here is what Melania Trump's actually lawyer wrote.
The following statements in the Story, among others, are false and completely fictionalized. We therefore demand that you immediately and permanently remove each of these statements from the Story, and print a prominent retraction and apology:
1. “That winter, I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron.”
2. “‘Natasha, why don’t we see you anymore?’ she asked, giving me a hug.”
3. “I was quiet and smiled, telling her I’d missed her, and I squeezed little Barron’s foot.”
The true facts are these: Mrs. Trump did not encounter Ms. Stoynoff on the street, nor have any conversation with her. The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly.
At the time in question, Mrs. Trump would not even have recognized Ms. Stoynoff if they had encountered one another on the street.
Your publication of the false statements is actionable and gives rise to claims of damages. Please confirm in writing within twenty-four (24) hours of the transmission of this letter that the foregoing demands will be, and are being, fully complied with. Failure to do so will require Mrs. Trump to consider her legal options.
This letter is not intended as a full or complete statement of all relevant facts or applicable law, and nothing herein is intended as, nor should it be deemed to constitute, a waiver or relinquishment of any of my client’s rights, remedies, claims or causes of action, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.
Note that the lawyer DID NOT CONTEST THE CENTRAL CLAIM OF STOYNOFF'S ARTICLE--THAT DONALD GROPED HER. This LOOKS like a tacit recognition that the groping did occur. After all, if a cop arrested you for murder and jaywalking, would you reply, "But officer... I didn't jaywalk" if you were innocent of murder? I don't see anything defamatory in the account of the encounter between Melania and Stoynoff. That Melania's lawyers would make a big stink about this is bizarre. Unless, of course, Princess Melania thinks that she is so high and mighty that to be seen conversing with a commoner tarnishes her image.
There is one more reason to believe that Trump groped Stoynoff. Paul McLaughlin, a former jounalism professor of Stoynoff's, claims that Stoynoff called him after the alleged groping. He said that Stoynoff was upset and angry and confused and she turned to him for advice on how to deal with the situation. McLaughlin says that Stoynoff decided not to go public with her accusation because Trump was very popular at the time and she thought people would not believe her.
Kristin Anderson said that Donald Trump slid his hand up her miniskirt and felt her vagina through her underwear. What makes this allegation particularly shocking is that Trump and Anderson had not even met before. They happened to be sitting next to each other in a croweded nightspot and Trump allegedly assaulted her out of the blue. As Anderson described it.
It wasn’t a sexual come-on. I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it, and nothing would happen. There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.
There are four reasons that this story is especially believable.
- This story is an exact match for Trump's boast that he could grab women by the pussy.
- Anderson swithced her registration from Democrat to "no party preference." She does not like either Trump or Clinton.
- Anderson did not apprach the Washington Post to ask them to publish her story. Instead, Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty got wind of it from someone else. When Tumulty asked Anderson if the rumors she heard were true, Anderson took several days deciding whether to go public. She only gave the go ahead for her story after three other women had come forth and said that Trump had groped them.
- The Washington Post had quotes by two friends who claimed that Anderson had told them about Donald's groping much earlier. Kelly Stedman said that Anderson had told her about the incident soon after it happened. And Brad Trent said Anderson had told him about it in 2007.
Clearly, Andrson did not make this story up because she sought fame. She did not make it up because she likes Hillary and wants to sabotage Trump's candidacy. And either her two friends who claim that Anderson told them about this years ago are lying or else Anderson decided just now to make up the story and used a time machine to travel back in time to whisper her story into their ears.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, claims that Trump groped her in a hotel room when she was trying to get a job in his real estate empire. Here is the press conference where Zervos and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, discuss what happened. Zervos's testimony starts at 5:34. There are several points worth noting about her testimony.
- She claims to have told two people about the incident long before she decided to go public with her story.
- She claims Trump urged her to default on her mortgage. This is consistent with other reports that Trump is a scam artist who skips out on his debt. (See also here and here.)
- She claims to be a Republican.
Zervos: I'm being truthful. I'll always be truthful.
Trump: How stupid is that?
Trump and his supporters will no doubt argue that when Trump said, "How stupid is that", he was not showing disdain for Zervos's insistence on telling the truth. Instead, they will claim, that he was saying that Zervos was stupid for interrupting him as he was about to fire one of her competitors instead of her. Fine. Let's give them that point. What is beyond dispute is that this clip shows that Zervos is a fundamentally honest person with a lot of courage and integrity. She KNEW that she was on thin ice because she had contributed little to the team's assignment. She KNEW that there was a very good chance she would be fired. She almost certainly had to have known that Trump was on the verge of firing Tarek, thus sparing her for the next week of competition. Yet, she thought Tarek was being unfairly portrayed and didn't want him to be fired for the wrong reason. Thus she spoke out on his behalf, knowing full well that doing so increased the risk that she would be fired. Thus, a minute of video from The Apprentice should bolster most people's confidence in her trustworthiness.
Bonus Creepiness: Or Beauties and the Beast
Five contestants for a Miss Teen Beauty pageant that was owned by Trump claim that he waked into their dressing room when they were in various states of undress. At least one of the pageant's contestants was only 15 years old.
CNN recently uncovered tapes of Trump being interviewed by Howard Stern. Here Trump brags about entering the changing room when contestants were naked. It is unclear whether Trump was referring to a teen-age beauty contest or a beauty contest for adults.
Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it..You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone okay?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.
Update 10/20/15: Yet another woman, Karena Virginia, has accused Trump of groping her. According to her, thought they had never met, he came right up to her and touched her breast. Trump denies the story (of course.)
Update 12/14/17: There are now 21 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.