A tangled web.
By Judd Legum Editor-In-Chief, ThinkProgress – – – – –
Last week, a slew of women came forward accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault.
Trump’s campaign vehemently denied the charges. In a statement, Senior Communications Adviser Jason Miller (who used to refer to his boss as #SleazyDonald) called two of the allegations in a New York Times article “a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump.”
Miller said the article “trivializes sexual assault,” adding that “It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story.”
After several evasions, Trump insisted during the presidential debate last Sunday that he has never committed sexual assault.
COOPER: Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?
TRUMP: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.
COOPER: So, for the record, you’re saying you never did that?
TRUMP: I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.
COOPER: Have you ever done those things?
TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you: No, I have not.
But in order to believe Trump’s denials — and his general denial that he has never sexually assaulted a woman — you have to believe everyone is lying, including Trump.
You also have to believe — either through coincidence or conspiracy — that these women were able to coordinate their stories to match Trump’s own description of his conduct in 2005. You have to believe this even though several of the women made their stories public well before Trump’s admission was known.
This gets confusing, so let’s break down how it all unfolded.
In 1997, Jill Harth — a beauty pageant executive — filed a federal lawsuit alleging Trump “continually made aggressive, unwanted sexual advances toward Harth.” These advances included groping her under a table. She eventually dropped the lawsuit after Trump settled a different suit with her concerning business matters.
So you have to believe Harth was lying.
Temple Taggart, who was Miss Utah in 1997, says that Trump kissed her and other contestants in Miss USA on the mouth without their consent. She told her story to the New York Times in May.
So you have to believe Taggart was lying.
Then, earlier this month, a videotape of Trump bragging about sexual assault in 2005 was released. It revealed what Trump said to Billy Bush right before he appeared on Access Hollywood.
Trump: “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Bush: “Whatever you want.”
Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
So to believe Trump, you have to believe he was lying to Billy Bush.
But you also have to believe that, by coincidence, his lie to Billy Bush was the same as the ones Taggart and Harth would have concocted earlier.
You have to believe this even though Taggart and Harth could not have been aware of Trump’s comments to Bush at the time they made their allegations.
Then, on Wednesday night, two women — Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks — told the New York Times that they were sexually assaulted by Trump.
Leeds says she was groped by Trump on an airplane in 1980, and Crooks said that Trump started kissing her outside an elevator in Trump tower in 2005.
So you have to believe that Leeds and Crooks were lying.
You also have to believe that these two women, who have no apparent connection to each other, were able to coordinate their stories to include striking similarities to the earlier allegations by Taggart and Harth, as well as to Trump’s own admission.
Also on Wednesday night, Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People Magazine, and Mindy McGillivray, alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Stoynoff says Trump stuck his tongue down her throat and McGillivray says he groped her from behind.
So you have to believe that Stoynoff and McGillivrary are lying.
You also have to believe that at least four women with no connection to each other were somehow able to coordinate their lies for maximum impact.
So it’s possible that this incredible confluence of lies and coincidences — including a key lie from Trump himself — are lining up against Trump, who is completely innocent of these allegations and has never committed sexual assault.
The other possibility is that Trump was telling the truth to Billy Bush and these women are telling the truth.
That’s also possible.