Trump says latest rape accuser not his 'type'

Washington Post ,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 12:51PM
Trump says his latest rape accuser is "totally lying" and that he's never met her (Image / AP)
Trump says his latest rape accuser is "totally lying" and that he's never met her (Image / AP)

The news that another woman had accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault landed with barely a political whimper.

When the allegation by magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll emerged Friday afternoon, there was little response from Capitol Hill, where the Senate was gone for the weekend and the House was rushing through votes to leave town. On the presidential campaign trail, Democratic candidates did not raise the topic as they spent the weekend wooing voters in South Carolina and preparing for the first debates.

The muted reaction to the claim by Carroll, who said Trump attacked her in a dressing room more than two decades ago, reflected a sense among resigned Democrats that the president will never face serious political damage from accusations of sexual misconduct, which have now been made by 16 women.

"There's so many allegations of sexual harassment and other things on this president. I wouldn't dismiss it, but let's be honest, he's going to deny it and little is going to come of it," said Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Republicans remained largely silent about Carroll's charge. The one political figure who has brought the most attention to her story is Trump himself, who has vigorously denied her story, saying she was "not my type."

When asked Tuesday if Trump's response was appropriate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell replied, "I don't have any comments about that."

Carroll first made the allegation in a book excerpt published Friday by New York magazine, and recounted the details in interviews with The Washington Post and other news organizations.

During a chance encounter with the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, she said, Trump attacked her in a dressing room. Carroll said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out. She said she described the episode shortly afterward to two friends, who spoke to The Post and confirmed her account.

Trump said Monday that she was "totally lying." He has said he never met Carroll, although a photo show them together at a party a decade earlier.

"People have to be careful because they are playing with very dangerous territory," the president told reporters Saturday.

On Capitol Hill this week, Republicans lawmakers sought to deflect questions about Carroll's allegation.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he had no comment. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida pleaded ignorance. "I honestly have been reading on policies, I just don't know about the case," Rubio said. "You're asking me about a story I've never even read."

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who has spoken publicly of being raped when she was in college, said that "it's important any types of allegations like this are taken seriously, but they do have to be properly vetted."

"We have to find out - are these accusations, is there a grave truth, is there not?" she added. "I don't know that at this point."

Even Democrats - who expended considerable political capital trying to stop the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year after he was accused of sexual assault as teenager - seem to have little appetite to take up the issue.

"It's not particular new news, so I don't know," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. "I think it stands on its own . . . I don't think we need to take action."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York Tuesday said he thinks "every allegation like this should be taken seriously" and that he believed Carroll to be "credible."

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who this week came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, chuckled and sighed when asked if Congress should launch an inquiry into Carroll's allegation.

"Allegations of sexual assault against Trump are almost monthly thing," Himes said. "I guess I haven't thought about it. I don't know enough about this allegation to have a smart comment on it."

Said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan: "This unfortunately does not surprise me, given his past behavior."

Democratic presidential candidates shared the same weary reaction.

"We know Donald Trump's character and it's revealed every single day," Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, shaking her head Saturday at a campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina. "There aren't any real surprises here other than the details."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has made sexual assault awareness a cornerstone of her presidential campaign, waited four days before speaking out about Carroll's allegation.

"This president's misogyny is disqualifying. Women deserve better," she tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "I believe E. Jean."

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