President Trump on Tuesday addressed the multiple allegations of sexual assault or misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, claiming it was “a very scary time for young men in America.”
“You can be an exemplary person for 35 years and then somebody comes in and they say ‘you did this or that’ and they give three witnesses at this point who do not corroborate what you are saying,” Trump said. “It’s a very scary situation where you’re guilty until proven innocent.”
“I say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of,” he continued. “This is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. It really does. You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life, and somebody could accuse you of something. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman, as everybody says. But somebody could accuse you of something and you’re automatically guilty.”
According to the White House press pool, when asked a short while later whether he had a message for the young women who had been forced to re-live their own trauma watching the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, Trump responded, “Women are doing great.”
This isn’t the first time that Trump has shifted the conversation surrounding Kavanaugh to focus on the notion of false accusations. During a press conference last Wednesday, Trump accused “evil” people of making “false statements” against Kavanaugh. “It’s happened to me, many times, where false statements are made and, honestly, nobody knows what to believe,” he said.
More broadly, Republicans have done their utmost to focus on Kavanaugh’s supposed “suffering” at the hands of his accusers. During a hearing to address one of the allegations last week, for instance, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of attempted rape, was “just as much of a victim as you [Kavanaugh] are.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also said “[Kavanaugh] wasn’t the only one choking back tears during his defense of his good name and his reputation.”
Republicans have not granted Ford the same amount of sympathy. Ford says Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a gathering in 1982, when the two were teenagers. She told The Washington Post that a drunken Kavanaugh allegedly pushed her into an empty bedroom, pinned her to the bed, and tried to remove her clothing, muffling her screams with his hand. She said was able to eventually free herself and escape. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.
Since coming forward with her accusations, Ford has experienced constant death threats and harassment, and has been forced to go into hiding. She said she had looked into hiring private security to escort her children to school.
(Worth mentioning: False rape accusations are extremely rare and don’t fit the profile of Ford’s testimony: according to most estimates, only 2-8 percent of rape allegations are false, approximately the same percentage as other crimes.)
Trump himself has faced accusations of sexual predation in the past. To date, at least 20 women have accused him of assaulting or harassing them, some claiming he groped them, others accusing him of walking through women’s dressing rooms unannounced or kissing them directly on the mouth. At least one woman has accused him of attempted rape. The White House has said the administration’s official position on these accusations is that all the women are lying.