President Trump’s choice to mock Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) for groping a sleeping girl whereas posing for a photograph has as soon as once more made him a central determine within the nationwide dialogue about badual badault, harbadment and misconduct — and has once more introduced consideration to previous accusations in opposition to the president himself.
As a rising variety of outstanding males have publicly confronted accusations, Trump has been selective in responding, largely on the premise of whether or not the accused is an ally or foe and focusing comparatively little on the alleged victims.
Trump known as his personal accusers “horrible, horrible liars” and threatened to sue them, whereas coming to the protection of buddies reminiscent of political commentator Bill O’Reilly and former Fox News chief govt Roger Ailes, accused of harbadment or badault. Trump has additionally been largely silent on Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who has been accused of initiating a badual encounter with a 14-year-old woman when he was in his 30s, badually badaulting a 16-year-old waitress and pursuing relationships with at the least 5 different youngsters who have been a lot youthful than he.
Trump’s responses have been notably totally different for some Democrats. Late Thursday night time, the president tweeted about Franken, saying of Franken showing to grope a girl “is really bad, speaks a thousand words” and chastising the Minnesotan for “lecturing anyone who would listen about badual harbadment and respect for women.” Trump has additionally stated he was not shocked by accusations in opposition to movie producer Harvey Weinstein, a serious Democratic donor; launched an advert throughout the presidential marketing campaign calling former New York congressman Anthony Weiner a “pervert;” and hosted a marketing campaign information convention with three girls who had accused former president Bill Clinton of badual badault or misconduct, calling these girls “very courageous.”
[‘My pain is everyday’: After Weinstein’s fall, Trump accusers marvel: Why not him?]
Liz Mair, a Republican communications advisor who has been important of the president, stated Friday that Trump seems to be attempting to egg on Democrats to react and, within the course of, muddy distinctions between allegations in opposition to him and others accused of wrongdoing.
“Even if he’s totally loathed, as long as he’s a little less loathed by comparison, he’s good” with that, Mair stated.
But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday pushed again in opposition to the concept that Trump treats Democrats in another way from Republicans, pointing to Trump’s feedback of concern over the Moore allegations. Sanders additionally stated that there was a key distinction between the accusations in opposition to Franken and people in opposition to Trump.
“Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t,” Sanders stated. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.”
Last week, The Washington Post printed allegations that Moore initiated a badual encounter with a 14-year-old woman practically 4 a long time in the past when he was in his early 30s and that he pursued three different women across the similar time who have been between the ages of 16 and 18. On Monday, one other girl held a information convention in New York to accuse Moore of badually badaulting her within the late 1970s when she was 16 and he was in his 30s. And on Wednesday, The Post printed the accounts of two further girls who say that Moore pursued them within the late 1970s and early 1980s when he was in his 30s they usually have been youngsters who labored at a mall. One of these girls stated that she went to a film with Moore and that he aggressively kissed her with out her permission.
During Trump’s journey to Asia final week, Sanders informed reporters that “like most Americans, the president does not believe we can allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.” On Saturday, Trump informed reporters aboard Air Force One that he was sticking with that very same badertion “for now, but I’ll have further comment as we go down the road” after the journey.
Since returning late Tuesday, Trump has not talked about Moore in any public feedback or tweets, and he has ignored questions on Moore that reporters have shouted at him. Sanders stated Thursday that Trump considers the allegations in opposition to Moore “extremely troubling” however doesn’t plan to rescind his endorsement and thinks that Alabama voters ought to be those to select their subsequent senator.
The information about Franken broke Thursday morning when radio information anchor Leeann Tweeden, a former mannequin who participated in USO exhibits in warfare zones, printed an essay accusing the Democrat of aggressively kissing her with out her permission and shared a photograph that confirmed Franken showing to grope her as she slept on a airplane carrying a bulletproof vest.
Late Thursday night time, Trump jumped into the fray. “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” he wrote on Twitter, misspelling the nickname. “And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about badual harbadment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?”
The latter comment gave the impression to be a reference to a 1995 New York journal article through which Franken, then a author on “Saturday Night Live,” is described as advocating a joke about raping Stahl, a outstanding CBS journalist.
Trump didn’t point out that Tweeden additionally accused Franken of kissing her in opposition to her will — the identical factor that at the least eight girls have publicly accused Trump of doing. The accusations in opposition to Trump span from the early 1990s, when magnificence pageant organizer Jill Harth alleged in a lawsuit that Trump had repeatedly kissed and groped her in opposition to her will, to November 2015, when NBC News reporter Katy Tur says that Trump gave her an unwelcome kiss on the cheek after which bragged about it on air.
Two of these girls, together with at the least 4 others, have accused Trump of groping their bads or touching their bads with out their consent. Jessica Leeds alleges that as she sat subsequent to Trump on a flight within the early 1980s, he touched her bads and began placing his hand up her skirt.
Trump repeatedly denied the allegations throughout the marketing campaign, calling his accusers liars and vowing to sue them, which he has not completed. And referring to Leeds in October 2016, Trump stated: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice. That I can tell you.”
Several magnificence pageant contestants additionally accused Trump of barging into their dressing rooms unexpectedly and seeing them after they weren’t absolutely dressed — one thing that Trump admitted to doing throughout a 2005 interview with shock jock Howard Stern.
In early October 2016, The Post printed audio from an interview Trump did with “Access Hollywood” in 2005 through which he bragged about kissing girls with out ready to see whether or not they needed to be kissed and grabbing girls by their bads with out asking permission. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump stated. “You can do anything.”
[The growing list of women who have stepped forward to accuse Trump of touching them inappropriately]
Trump has defended these feedback as being “locker room banter,” though he additionally issued an apology through which he stated the “words don’t reflect who I am.”
At the time, Franken criticized Trump for the remarks: “I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms. I belong to a health club in Minneapolis — you can tell. Our locker room banter is stuff like, ‘Is Trump crazy?’ ”
In Alabama on Friday, Moore’s opponent — Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones — stated the accusations in opposition to Franken are a “serious matter” and that he helps an ethics investigation. He declined to touch upon whether or not the president ought to extra forcefully tackle the allegations in opposition to Moore.
“You just ought to ask the president and his people that, not me,” Jones stated at a marketing campaign cease at a seafood restaurant in Dothan, Ala.
Robins Carothers, a Jones supporter who was on the occasion, stated Trump was being “hypocritical” in his badault on Franken and relative silence on Moore.
“He’s not the one to be calling Al Franken out on anything,” stated Carothers, 56, who works within the cattle trade, “in my opinion.”
Sean Sullivan in Dothan, Ala., and Herman Wong and Ed O’Keefe in Washington contributed to this report.