As expected, the column I wrote a few weeks back accusing Donald Trump of being a racist generated several angry rejoinders from his most ardent fans and a rather nasty one from Floyd (not his real name). Floyd, you may remember, is the reader who becomes especially hostile when I call Trump out for his callousness and cruelty and racist behavior.
Well, Floyd, it seems that your beloved president is an accused rapist, as well.
In late June, another in a long line of women came forward to accuse Trump of a forcible, sexual assault. In this case, however, it was purported to have been violent, a distinction that meets the legal definition of rape in New York State.
Trump’s accuser, longtime writer and columnist Elizabeth Jean Carroll, is a well-known and highly respected American journalist and advice columnist. Her “Ask E. Jean” column has appeared in Elle magazine since 1993.
Carroll’s allegation is detailed in her upcoming book, excerpted in New York Magazine, and reported by the New York Times. She accuses Trump of attacking her in the dressing room of a New York department store—Bergdorf Goodman—back in the late 1990s. According to Carroll, she confided in two friends soon after the event, and both have recently corroborated her account to several news organizations.
Carroll writes, as reported in the Times, that Trump “pushed her against the wall, pushed his mouth against her lips, then pulled down her tights…and it was a fight. I want women to know that I did not stand there. I did not freeze. I wasn’t paralyzed, which is a reaction that I could have had, because it’s so shocking. No, I fought. And it was over very quickly. It was against my will, 100 percent.”
Trump has repeatedly denied the accusation, saying, “it’s a totally false accusation. And I don’t know anything about her.”
Quoted in The Hill (a DC newspaper), Trump said of Carroll, “She’s just not my type,” implying that if she was, his behavior would be understandable.
As Charles Blow put it in his New York Times opinion column: “Place yourself, or your mother, or your wife, sister, daughter, cousin, girlfriend or friend, in that dressing room. Imagine the struggle. Imagine the violation. Imagine the anger. And now remember that the alleged perpetrator is now the president.”
Over the years, at least 16 women have accused Trump of a sexual transgression or assault. Carroll is the second woman to accuse him of rape. (Ivana Trump, his first wife, accused him of rape in divorce papers, but later withdrew the accusations.) Trump has denied each and every one of these accusations and, given Carroll’s timeline, he cannot be charged because the statute of limitations for rape expired.
Carroll’s accusation is consistent with what Trump said he frequently did in that infamous “Access Hollywood” tape when he said, quite proudly, that he grabs women by the genitals, and takes advantage of them without hesitation.
The American public has been force-fed so many repulsive actions by Trump over the last 30 months that it is has become inured to his alarming behavior. This latest revelation, though, is truly ugly and revolting. Are we now to believe that rape is no longer a big deal and, according to his Republican supporters, “let’s just let Trump be Trump?” Is this the new normal in America?
There are numerous Trump crises and potential disasters to focus on, whether it is immigration and the caging of children; the environment and climate change; healthcare; women’s reproductive rights; trade wars; relations with European allies; attacking the FBI and our security agencies; and looking for a war with Iran. Do we have time, even, to consider rape? I guess not.
A significant segment of our society seems to accept his malignant form of evil, even as he deliberately chips away at long-held American values. Republican politicians are gutless and afraid to upset him. Republican men—almost entirely white—stand on the sidelines and cheer him on, as if he’s competing in a 100-yard dash.
As Blow says, “This president acts as if he is above the law or is the law. He lies and he cheats, and he bullies. He is hateful and rude and racist. He talks about women to whom he is attracted as if they’re objects to be possessed and about women who dare to challenge him as enemies who must be destroyed.”
And he has surrounded himself with moral cowards, unwilling to call him out. What remains to be seen is whether women will rise up and throw him out.