What a night for my internet to go out! It's back on now, thank God...
Not many hours ago, I had planned to spend this night writing a long-ish post about the women who made accusations against Bill Clinton in the 1990s. And then...
Then we saw a flurry of news stories about Donald Trump popping into a dressing room filled with unclothed teenaged girls competing in the Miss Teen USA pageant. Some of the girls were as young as 15.
That was only the beginning. The NYT published a story about two women who claimed that Donald Trump groped them.
The first, Jessica Leeds (now 74), says that Trump "moved" on her when they shared a first-class flight in the early 1980s. Leeds' account struck me as problematical on first read, but the video interview embedded above seems very persuasive. Her words indicate that she initially responded to Trump's kisses, which may have emboldened him to go further. In other words, this story contains a grey area. Arguably, that grey area increases Leeds' believability, since a concocted story probably would have been grey-free.
The second incident occurred in 2005. A woman named Rachel Crooks, then 22 years old, worked as a receptionist with the Bayrock firm in Trump Tower. (Interestingly, Bayrock figures in various news stories about Trump's Russian links.) Crooks says that immediately after she met Trump near an elevator, he started to kiss her on the mouth -- just as Trump himself described in the infamous Access Hollywood video.
A lawsuit would subject Trump to Discovery. That should be droll.
It seems obvious that the NYT's lawyers must have vetted this story as thoroughly as possible. For a libel suit to succeed, Trump's lawyers would have to prove that the NYT knowingly published false information for malicious reasons. I just don't see how that standard can be met.
The fact that the two women may now face legal action only adds to their credibility. What would they have to gain from making up a yarn out of whole cloth?
One cannot easily argue that both the accusers and the newspaper are telling lies in order to prevent Trump from winning the White House. Before the NYT published, Trump was not exactly on the cusp of victory: Even many Republican leaders had given up on this election. Hillary Clinton was not in a desperate situation and needed no dramatic October Surprise.
As the night wore on, we received word of further "Donnie the Groper" stories.
One came from People Magazine. Journalist Natasha Stoynoff, who often reported on Trump during the early 2000s, says that in 2005 -- at a time when Melania was pregnant -- Donald Trump gave her a tour of his Florida mansion.
We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.
Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview.
I was still in shock and remained speechless as we both followed him to an outdoor patio overlooking the grounds. In those few minutes alone with Trump, my self-esteem crashed to zero. How could the actions of one man make me feel so utterly violated? I’d been interviewing A-list celebrities for over 20 years, but what he’d done was a first. Did he think I’d be flattered?
I tried to act normal. I had a job to do, and I was determined to do it. I sat in a chair that faced Trump, who waited for his wife on a loveseat. The butler left us, and I fumbled with my tape recorder. Trump smiled and leaned forward.
“You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?” he declared, in the same confident tone he uses when he says he’s going to make America great again. “Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.” He also referenced the infamous cover of the New York Post during his affair with Marla Maples.
“You remember,” he said. “‘Best Sex I Ever Had.’ ”
Actually, Marla did not say those words. The quote was provided to the NYP by Donald himself, who (according to David Cay Johnston) planted the story in that newspaper. Trump did so to humiliate his wife Ivana, to whom he was still married at the time (and who once testified that her rage-fueled husband had tried tried to yank out her hair). Trump's three young children also saw that Post cover.
The Palm Beach Post published still another "groper" story. This one concerns a woman named Mindy McGillivray who says that Trump groped her at the Mar-A-Lago in 2003. A photographer named Ken Davidoff confirms that McGillivray told him at the time that "Donald Trump just grabbed my ass."
A fifth story comes to us from Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013. Like McGillivray, Searles claims that Trump grabbed her hindquarters.
Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, recalls that when she was a contestant, the businessman demanded the women redo their introductions when they failed to look Trump in the eye. In a Facebook post this year, Searles called Trump a "misogynist" who "treated us like cattle" and "lined up so he could get a closer look at his property." Other contestants from the same year, like Paromita Mitra of Mississippi, bolstered Searles recollection. Mitra commented, "I literally have nightmares about that process.
Searles added in a comment on her initial post's thread, "He probably doesn't want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room."
Trump was, of course, married at this time. He was also (according to Wayne Barrett) considering a run for the presidency.
All in all, newswatchers witnessed one hell of a barrage last night.
My first reaction: What if one of these women is a ringer? Some are comparing Trump to Bill Cosby, but that accusation works two ways, since many observers believe that at least one of the women making claims against Cosby is a liar. In the current round of accusations against Donald Trump, one provably false claim will taint the rest.
Never forget: Trump's pal Roger Stone is the consummate dirty trickster. He's capable of anything.
Maybe all five of these women are telling the truth. Maybe one or more of them is bearing false witness. I don't know. On first read, Stoynoff's account strikes me as the most convincing of the lot. That said, none of the claims present insurmountable difficulties at this point, although tomorrow may bring new evidence and a new perspective.
One thing is certain: Given Trump's notoriously litigious nature, no sane editor in the mainstream media would want to publish such an accusation without first making sure that each and every duckling was aligned in a very neat row.
Hilariously, the Trump campaign issued a statement decrying the NYT for publicizing a case that is "decades old." What hypocrisy! The entire Trump campaign now revolves around rehashing ancient claims against Bill Clinton.
Steve Bannon says that he is going to transform Bill Clinton into Bill Cosby. I doubt it: Right now, the Cosbification of Donald Trump overshadows all. I don't see how Team Trump can get their "Bad Bill" message out to a mainstream audience; the Trumpers have been reduced to talking to themselves. Besides, Bannon has nothing new and credible to offer on the Clinton front. All of the older accusations were thrashed out at great length in the 1990s -- and during that time, Bill Clinton's approval ratings increased. So did Hillary's.
In the 1990s, the public understood that the amounts of money lavished on Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers could explain why both of those women changed their stories. Juanita Broaddrick is a proven liar. (Scroll down for my earlier post about her). As for Kathleen Willey -- well, her claims were always difficult to accept. Read what Joe Conason has to say about her, then compare the outlandish Willey story (which even Ken Starr refused to touch) to the one offered by Natasha Stoynoff. Which one has the ring of truth?
Always keep in mind that the Republicans -- not the Dems -- are the ones who employ dirty tricksters like Roger Stone. If you scoffed at the preceding sentence, if you have wedded yourself to the idea that "both sides are equally guilty," then I challenge you: Name the liberal analogue to Stone. G'wan. I dare you.
Bannon, like most other members of the Donald Trump Dick Club, is hyper-aggressive and hyper-macho and just plain hyper. He says that his personal motto is "Honey badger don't care." Silly badger: What if the rest of the world stops caring about you?
Roger Stone and then there was Roger Ailes, no? Roger that. The woman on the plane seemed somewhat implausible to me, but, what I think happened was she stumbled when stating she didn't mind making out with him as in kissing, but nothing below the belt. But she never told anybody? Why?
How about Dick Tuck? (as a nominee for your requested example of a D dirty trickster)
I guess he could be seen as more a prankster, and of course, he was a Nixon-era figure back in the day, not a contemporary example.
posted by Anonymous : 1:07 PM
Unless I missed something: where in the NYTimes piece, or in the taped interview, does Ms. Leeds day anything about having kissed Mr. Trump? She talks about his groping, but doesn't mention making out at all.
posted by Anonymous : 1:40 PM
With respect to Jessica Leeds' airplane story, when I initially heard it last night, I wondered about the seat comment. I've flown first class a fair amount. Generally speaking, the division between you and the person next to you is usually an immovable area for drinks, snacks, etc. I am not remembering a situation in first class where the arm rest moves up and down.
Besides that, I found her recollection moving and disturbing, such that I had a nightmare that taints my waking and this day. Can we all go to sleep, wake up on November 8, vote, and be done with it?
Interesting to see The Young Turks completely miss the point ... Cenk says despairingly, "why is it the sex that brings down Trump?"
Because it's not about the sex. It's about a powerful man, born to wealth, protected by an army of lawyers, abusing women any time he feels like it, and acting without any consequence for all his life. People, particularly women, are just rag dolls to him, things to used and thrown away. Men may not understand that story, but every women I've met has a similar story to tell.
He's not just a sexual predator; he's a psychopath and predator, protected by lawyers and a media culture that hides and conceals deception, abuse, and coercion. It's finally taken a few women to come along and unmask this thug, and his pals in the media, who have known all along and laughed with him ... on the air, and in private.
posted by ColoradoGuy : 4:10 PM
Remember tRump assaulted one his teachers when he was ten years old--- and got away clean. He was trained from birth to be a bully and later learned to be a predator. I can't think of anyone equivalent to Stone on the left either, though I guess some of the hippy left from the Weather Underground might loosely qualify. On a tangential note, are more folks from Left Blogistan claiming to the be the sole all seeing eye for the past three decades? (I'm not talking about you, Joe, or anyone else who frequents this blog) I spend at least six hours every day (I don't have a regular job) wandering through a long list of blogs and seeing who is saying what, and lately, there seems to be quite of bit "I'm the only person who has ever talked about how the liberals were always right" kind of stuff.("I alone howled in the wilderness!") Cannonfire regularly posts material no one else has so again, not this blog, but it's seems there is a contest on-going about who is going to claim the throne of Gandalf the White in Left Blogistan. Or it could just be me stumbling around the dimming edges of dementia. What the Hell. Vote Clinton! (That must be ADD again.) As dozens of "millennials" have told me, "Go away old man. You're too old to understand how the world works today." Sorry for ranting but this election is making me fng crazy!