Last night, Jeff Greenfield asked on Twitter, “Has Trump nailed down Bill Cosby’s endorsement yet?”
This is a presidential candidate we’re talking about — a man who has bragged that, by virtue of his celebrity, he can sexually assault women with impunity. Then he’s shocked when some of his victims come forward. His supporters claim these women can’t be telling the truth because if Trump has groped and kissed them without consent, they would have made a stink about it right away. To say that is to not understand what it’s like to be a victim of sexual assault, particularly by a powerful man.
Several of the victims came forward this week after seeing Trump say during Sunday’s debate that he has never sexually assaulted any women. They know differently. Making their names and stories public is not an easy thing to do. They will be vilified and trolled and have their lives made hellish by Trump supporters. But if other victims are emboldened by these first few, their numbers could quickly grow from seven women (as of this morning) to many more, just as it did with Cosby and with Trump’s pal and adviser Roger Ailes.
Trump is making noises about suing the New York Times and the other media outlets that have reported the claims. However, Trump’s lawyers must know there’s no chance those cases would ever get to court, mostly because libel laws are on the papers’ side, but even worse, if he even begins legal proceedings against them, the Times and others would invoke the legal discovery process, which would put Trump’s entire sexual history under a microscope and open the floodgates even further. When Trump’s attorneys wrote a letter to the Times demanding a retraction, the paper’s assistant general counsel replied with a brilliant letter of his own that virtually dares Trump to sue.
Where Trump’s legal threats could have some impact is on the women themselves, making them victims yet again. His pockets aren’t as deep as he claims, but they are deep enough to underwrite campaigns of intimidation against not just those who have come forward, but other women who have been subjected to Trump’s disgusting actions.
There’s another Trump issue that isn’t getting as much attention as the sexual assaults, but should. For weeks, he has been going around telling his followers that the polls — which show his numbers dropping, even in formerly-solid red states like Utah — are rigged. Of course, when the exact same pollsters showed results in his favor earlier this year during the GOP primaries, he proclaimed them as “totally true” (for a laugh read this Onion piece in which Trump claims his own personality is rigged against him). He is also warning his cult that if he loses the election, it will be because the polls were rigged, and to ensure that doesn’t happen, he wants his listeners to go to the polls and “monitor” the proceedings.
As CNN’s Brian Stelter has pointed out, this is dangerous. I can easily foresee violence at some polling places as Trumpsters get in the faces of Hillary supporters, especially people of color. They’ll have confrontations with election officials warning them away from electioneering in the polling place — or stand outside the entrances with their barely-concealed weapons, hovering in a threatening manner to dissuade anyone who doesn’t support him from voting for her.
Election officials, media outlets, and local police departments will have to keep an eye out for such incidents — and hopefully they won’t be like the motorcycle cops in San Antonio who face discipline for wearing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats while on duty. Imagine how intimidated a Latino or African-American would be if they saw that at the polling place on election day.
What’s ironic about this is that Trumpsters believe his boy-who-cried-wolf garbage about polls and the election being rigged — as well as all of his other evidence-free claims — but dismiss the women coming forward about his sexual assaults on them, despite their assertions being made more believable by his own words.