Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that it was the White House’s official position that the numerous women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault or harassment since 1980 are all liars.
Sanders was asked to confirm the position following Trump’s remarks last week, where he called the multiple allegations by women against him “fake news.”
“Obviously, sexual harassment has been in the news. At least 16 women accused the president of sexually harassing them throughout the course of the campaign,” CBS News reporter Jacqueline Alemany said. “Last week, during a press conference in the Rose Garden, the president called these accusations of fake news. Is the official White House position that all of the women are lying?”
“Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning and the president has spoken on it,” Sanders said.
The White House doubling down on Trump’s innocence comes on the heels of several powerful men across multiple industries being outed as serial sexual predators.
On October 5, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing more then a dozen young women over decades. Last weekend, it was revealed that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly paid an astonishing $32 million to settle a sexual harassment suit with a network analyst at Fox. This week, eight women accused political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment, while three women said former president George H. W. Bush had groped them.
Given the current climate, it’s clear why questions regarding the numerous accusations against Trump are resurfacing, especially in light of their extent. The accusations begin in 1980, when businesswoman Jessica Leeds accused Trump of trying to put his hand up her skirt when they were sat together on a plane. In 1989, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana said he assaulted her when they were married. Between 1996 and 2000, there were four separate claims of sexual assault against Trump. Then, in 2001, a former Miss Teen USA contestant said Trump burst unannounced into their changing rooms.
“Mr. Trump just barged right in, didn’t say anything, stood there and stared at us,” she told the Guardian. Trump’s attitude, she said, seemed to be: “I can do this because I can.”
There were a further eight claims of sexual harassment against Trump made between 2001 and 2013. And of course, prior to the election, a 2005 Access Hollywood tape emerged in which Trump talks extremely crudely about women and how he treats them. “When you’re a star they let you do it,” he is recorded saying. “You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Given the number of accusations, and the mounting evidence about how powerful men use their privilege to exploit vulnerable young women, Sanders may have attempted to approach the question on sexual assault with sensitivity. Instead, she just brushed it off.