For President Donald Trump, the allegations that his now-former staff secretary was a serial domestic abuser are another #HimToo moment.
Never mind the FBI background check that found the allegations and restraining order credible enough to delay Rob Porter’s security clearance, or the close-up photos of the black eye Porter’s ex-wife says he gave her on vacation in Italy.
To the president, sitting in the Oval Office on Friday, the victim here seems to be Porter.
“It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now,” Trump told reporters. “He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that.”
Trump made no mention of the women. No denunciation of domestic abuse to line up with Vice President Mike Pence, who initially told reporters he’d catch up with the Porter drama when he gets back to Washington from his trip to the Winter Games in South Korea, only to later clarify in an interview with NBC News: “There’s no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse.”
On Saturday, the president tweeted: “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. 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?”
Trump has been down this road before — many times — starting with two dozen women who’ve alleged he sexual harassed or assaulted them. His ex-wife Ivana Trump claimed once in a deposition that he raped her, in a rage over bad hair plugs. She later said she didn’t mean “rape” literally.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), a former district attorney and one of the more outspoken members in Congress about women’s issues, said she isn’t surprised, given Trump’s handling of accusations dating back to the 2016 campaign that he himself groped or assaulted women.
“Of course he never believes the women — he can’t,” Rice said. “Donald Trump’s presidency is built on people not believing women. If people start believing women, maybe they’d think about believing any of the dozen-plus women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and harassment.”
(Excerpted from Politico 2/9/18)