With the present weaponising of allegations of sexual impropriety against American politicians, it was inevitable that Donald Trump would soon be front and centre. The #MeToo searchlight is now shining directly on the president and the flak is bursting around him.
This week three women amongst those who have accused Trump of sexual molestation publicly called on Congress to investigate the president’s actions. They are not, however, going to take Trump to court.
The three women spoke at a press conference with Brave New Films, a studio which has made a short video presentation about 16 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault between February 2016 and January of this year. The allegations of the three, Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey, go back to before Trump became a presidential candidate.
Rachel Crooks, a former Trump Tower receptionist who accused Trump of kissing her on the lips without her consent in 2005, agreed that the 16 accusers intended to take their case to ‘the court of public opinion’. Crooks described the accusations as ‘serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr Trump’.
‘What am I going to sue him for? Being really creepy? That’s not something that would stand up in court,’ said Samantha Holvey, a former Miss North Carolina who accused Trump of entering a dressing room to ogle Miss USA 2006 contestants.
‘I don’t think the courts are the place to go,’ agreed Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of moving his hand up her skirt when she was sitting next to him during a flight in the 1970s. This alleged incident happened so long ago that a legal case is not really possible. It would come down to ‘she said, he said’.
‘I don’t even think a judge would enter into any sort of case in it,’ Leeds said. ‘I don’t have any thoughts of going to the courts for this. We have to deal with the public.’
And there is the rub. In the present atmosphere of widespread allegations of sexual impropriety coupled with almost hysterical animosity towards Trump, actual evidence tested in a real court is bypassed: it is the allegation which is paramount. A win is easy in ‘the court of public opinion’ when almost the entire establishment, including the media, is on your side and willing you on.
Those making the allegations, whether or not they are true, are in a win-win situation. Allegations are made and widely believed on the simplistic principle of ‘There’s no smoke without fire’. By the very fact that there are allegations, Trump is already guilty in the eyes of many.
Social media, an electronic lavatory wall for the emotionally incontinent, is already aflame with condemnation of Trump. This is of course fanned by the establishment who give a veneer of respectability to the outpourings of the easily enraged.
Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, supposedly a reputable politician from a moderate political party, accused Trump of being ‘fundamentally evil’ in a BBC News interview on November 30. His interviewer passed over the utterly outrageous statement without comment or enquiry. When someone is routinely slandered so viciously by those who are held up as sober responsible leaders and are not called to account by a state-sponsored broadcaster, what chance do they have in ‘the court of public opinion’?
If Trump, who denies the allegations completely, were to sue those who accused him of sexual impropriety, all that would happen is that the claims would be kept before the public for even longer. It would give the media even more time to attack.
Several Democratic senators, on the basis of unproven allegations, have already called on Trump to resign. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told CNN: ‘These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.’ New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley have joined demands that Trump resign.
Allegations are deemed sufficient in themselves to destroy the reputation and position of the President of the United States, if that President is Donald Trump.
That Democratic politicians have got away with worse is immaterial. Teddy Kennedy behaved like a drunken degenerate when he left a young woman to drown in a submerged car. Bill Clinton has a reputation as the worst kind of sexual predator. These things are in the past, whataboutery is a distraction.
What is important is that the political atmosphere in America today is such that we shall never know whether the allegations are true or not. The general hysteria surrounding American politics and the continual unearthing of sexual impropriety in Hollywood and Washington has created an environment where truth has become irrelevant and sides are taken on the basis of political identity. People are believed on the basis of whether or not they are pro- or anti-Trump.
This is to the disadvantage of all involved. Without a credible judicial process we can never know if the women’s allegations are true and if they were sexually assaulted. If they were, they deserve our thanks for stepping forward no matter how long after the events, even if they are politically motivated. If Donald Trump is innocent of any impropriety, as he declares, we shall never really be able to believe him due to the number of allegations and their prevalence on our TV screens.
American politics, like American society, has become a cesspit of bitterness and anger. Identity politics has a credible chance of destroying a once-great nation.