A Look At President Trump's Pattern Of Responding To Accusations Of Sexual Misconduct

Jun 25, 2019
Originally published on June 25, 2019 10:15 pm
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump is once again denying that he sexually assaulted a woman - this time, the writer E. Jean Carroll. And his response is familiar. In an interview with The Hill newspaper, Trump said, quote, "no. 1, she's not my type. No. 2 it never happened." Carroll is among more than a dozen women who've accused Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted touching to forced penetration. To talk about the president's pattern of responding to these claims, Anna North, senior reporter at Vox, joins us now. Welcome.

ANNA NORTH: Thanks so much for having me.

SHAPIRO: Let's begin with the latest claim. E. Jean Carroll says Trump assaulted her in the mid-'90s. Here's how she described it on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

E JEAN CARROLL: It was a very short incident in a - the Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. I could move on. Many women cannot. And so to me, it's just disrespectful to say - to use the word rape, although it hurt, and it was against my will.

SHAPIRO: So, Anna North, other prominent men accused of sexual misconduct - and there have sadly been many examples - they've said this was consensual or it was a misunderstanding. But that's not how President Trump has responded at all.

NORTH: No. In fact, the president has responded pretty much in the way he's responded when more than a dozen other women have come forward accusing him of misconduct. And he said that E. Jean Carroll is a liar. He has hinted that maybe she's being paid by Democrats. And then in his latest response, he said that she is not my type, as though whether or not she would be attractive to him were something that should figure into this discussion.

SHAPIRO: We should say, by the way, E. Jean Carroll responded to the she's not my type line by telling CNN I love that I'm not his type. Let's look at other times Trump has used variations on this response. In 2016 on this program, Jessica Leeds described a time more than 30 years ago when she says Trump touched her inappropriately on a flight.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JESSICA LEEDS: Mr. Trump started coming over to me and groping me, and then his hands started going up my skirt.

SHAPIRO: Here's how Donald Trump responded to that at a campaign rally in 2016.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Believe me. She would not be my first choice. That I can tell you.

SHAPIRO: And one more example. After People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff said Trump forced his tongue down her throat in 2005, here's what Trump said at a rally.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so. I don't think so.

SHAPIRO: Anna, he clearly seems to think this is an effective response. Why do you think that is?

NORTH: Well, you know, he's getting cheers from it at his rallies, but a lot of people who are advocates for anti-sexual assault have pointed out that assault typically isn't about sexual attraction as much as it's about power and domination and violence. And so the question of whether someone is his type really isn't quite relevant here.

SHAPIRO: I have to ask whether the response actually is effective. We hear the audience cheering, and many of these claims were made before the election, which he won. Many have been made since. They don't seem to affect his approval ratings.

NORTH: Yeah. So I think a lot of people would say that some of these allegations really led to the recent explosion of the #MeToo movement and a lot more women and people of all genders coming forward about sexual harassment and assault. So the question in my mind is Trump is going to face the American people again in 2020, and what effect are these allegations going to have on the ballot box then?

SHAPIRO: Put this in context of the "Access Hollywood" tape for us where Trump, speaking with Billy Bush, bragged about being able to grab people between the legs without their permission.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: 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.

NORTH: Right. So the reason that a lot of these women came forward in the first place was actually that this tape came out, and some of his defenders said this is just the way men talk. And a lot of women came forward and said, no, it's not just talk. This happened to me. And now E. Jean Carroll is coming forward. So I think these allegations are sort of counter to the claim that President Trump was just having a little laugh on that "Access Hollywood" tape and it wasn't serious.

SHAPIRO: Anna North, senior reporter at Vox, thank you for joining us today.

NORTH: Thanks so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARIEL ABRAMOVICH'S "RICERCAR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.