Trump offered no words of concern for Porter’s alleged victims, or any comfort for how their lives have been shattered or destroyed. Instead, he chose to side with the accused at the expense of the women.
This is what we have come to expect from Trump. His response wasn’t an outlier; it was consistent with a man who always gives the benefit of the doubt to powerful, white and Republican men. In Donald Trump’s paradigm, no women are innocent. They are asking for it.
When the face of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, was besieged with accusations of misconduct toward numerous women, Trump publicly stated that “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
When the brain of Fox News, Roger Ailes, was confronted with dozens of sexual harassment allegations, Trump questioned the victims’ motives, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press, “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them, and even recently. ... And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him. ... It’s very sad because he’s a very good person.”
When then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got into a physical altercation that left a bruise on then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields’ wrist, Trump responded by saying, “I think it’s a very very sad day in this country when a man could be destroyed over something like that.”
When bombshell allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers detonated Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in Alabama, the president of the United States stood by him, saying, “He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also.”
And after at least 13 women have publicly come forward with credible allegations of inappropriate physical contact by the president himself, the White House has incredibly claimed that all 13 of these women are lying.
If that’s still not enough of an insight into how Trump views and values women, look no further than how he has made a mockery of his marriage vows to his current wife, Melania. Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, alleges she and Trump had a sexual relationship just months after Melania gave birth to the couple’s son.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen confirmed making a $130,000 payment to the porn star as part of an agreement to keep the alleged affair quiet.
According to an explosive expose in The New Yorker, this was a pattern of behavior for Trump. At the same time he was spending time with Daniels, he began an affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, the outlet reported. Like in Daniels’ case, Trump allies orchestrated a six-figure deal for McDougal, who says the agreement keeps her from speaking about her relationship with Trump.
For Trump, women are objects that exist for his pleasure ― things he can rent and pay off.
Yet amid dozens of sexual assault allegations against powerful men, Trump had the audacity to say this in November:
Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I’m very happy it’s being exposed.”
Two things stand out to me:
1.) Trump seems to surround himself with a lot of people who have a history of sexual harassment, misconduct or abuse.
2.) Trump honestly believes that it’s always the woman’s fault.
During the height of the Roger Ailes scandal, Trump was asked by a USA Today columnist, Kirsten Powers, “What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?” Trump’s response: “I would like to think she would find another career or another company if that was the case.”
That answer unpacks everything we need to know about how the president views the role of women in our society.
Even if it were his own daughter, Trump believes the onus is on her to make a change, not the man harassing her. Trump believes it’s the woman who needs to find a new job or career ― revealing he inherently does not view the role of women in the workplace as equal to men.
It’s why he felt empowered to attack Megyn Kelly after she pressed him at a debate on his exhaustive history of making misogynistic and sexist comments.
It’s why that pattern continued when Trump took to Twitter to attack “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, calling her, among other things, “low I.Q.”
And it’s why, two months ago, Trump tweeted a sexually suggestive smear against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who happens to be one of the country’s leading voices against sexual harassment.
“In men like Ailes, O’Reilly, Lewandowski and Porter, Trump sees a part of himself ― and his instinct to leap to their defense is really an act of self-preservation.”
Trump’s emotional fragility and personal history with sexual misconduct allegations have created a construct where he will always side with the man because he is inherently afraid of empowering women. At the heart of any abuse against women lie massive insecurities harbored by cowardly men. These men seem to delude themselves into thinking that the only way to compensate for their lack of intellect, ability, circumstance or position is to target and attack a woman.
That explains why Trump has surrounded himself with such an alarmingly high number of men who have a history of abuse towards women. In men like Ailes, O’Reilly, Lewandowski and Porter, Trump sees a part of himself ― and his instinct to leap to their defense is really an act of self-preservation.
Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, who has his own history with allegations of domestic abuse, recently told author Joshua Green that the #MeToo movement could take down Trump. Irony aside, Trump seems to agree with Bannon’s assessment. He’s unwilling to give any ground to any woman, for fear that doing so will be the beginning of his end.
Unfortunately for him, women may finally be in a position to take it for themselves.
Kurt Bardella is a HuffPost columnist and a contributor to USA Today and NBC THINK. He is a former spokesperson for Rep. Darrell Issa, then-Sen. Olympia Snowe, then-Rep. Brian Bilbray, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @KurtBardella.