Donald Trump really does believe he has the right to sexually assault women

Donald Trump
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Donald Trump would like to remind you that as a star he’s perfectly happy to sexually assault women. Just not the woman who led the charge for marriage equality.

The evidence emerged in the ongoing civil trial brought by E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her and defaming her. Trump was deposed for the trial last October at Mar-a-Lago, apparently while taking a break from hiding top secret documents. The deposition was a mix of bluster, misogyny, and, in one bizarre instance, confusion.

It was October 2016 all over again on the deposition tape, as Trump re-hashed his notorious Access Hollywood remarks. In those hot-mic comments leaked to the press, Trump was caught saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The blowback from those comments didn’t cost Trump the presidency. Indeed, Christian conservatives rallied to his defense, although Mike Pence was apparently distraught enough to consider leaving the ticket. Of course, Pence and his fellow conservatives willingly traded principles for power.

Trump apologized at the time. Not this time, though.

“Well, historically, that’s true with stars,” Mr. Trump said in the deposition, which was released late last week.

“True with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?” Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, asked.

“Well, that’s what — if you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” Mr. Trump says. “Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”

Carroll says that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s. Two of her friends say that she told them about it at the time. Two other women have testified about how Trump sexually assaulted them, an effort by Carroll’s legal team to establish Trump’s pattern of behavior.

Trump didn’t prove himself to be his own best witness. Shown a picture of Carroll from the 1990s, he mistook her for his ex-wife Marla Maples, despite Trump’s repeated protestations that Carroll is “not my type.” Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba had to point out the discrepancy, to which Trump responded with a face-saving lie: the photo was “very blurry.”

Trump spends a lot of time in the deposition attacking Carroll as a “nut job” and “wacko,” but he can’t help but go after Kaplan as well. As a reminder, Kaplan is the out lesbian who represented Edie Windsor in the United States v. Windsor, the first marriage equality case to come before the Supreme Court, resulting in the partial demise of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Trump attacked Kaplan as a “political operative” and a “disgrace.” But then he hurled what he thought was the ultimate insult at her. After saying that Carroll was not his type, he made it clear Kaplan wasn’t either.

“You wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t under any circumstances have any interest in you.”

Kaplan no doubt returns the compliment.

Trump’s bluster aside, he is facing both legal and political problems from the trial. He is refusing to offer a defense at the trial and, after hinting that he would, won’t be testifying at the trial either. Politically, the trial is yet another reminder to voters already disgusted with Trump that he’s as skeevy a character as they thought, which won’t help him in the general election. (Republicans don’t care. When it comes to Trump, they love their skeevy.)

Trump has so many legal problems right now that you need a spreadsheet to follow them. But as a reminder, we’re talking about rape. That somehow Trump has normalized something so heinous is a sign of how low the GOP has sunk. Looking at Trump’s rising poll numbers, the party seems willing to go as far into the gutter as Trump can take them.

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