When Donald Trump was vying for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, he wanted to express how fiercely loyal his base was as compared to any other candidate’s. So, at a January 2016 rally in Iowa, Trump famously boasted: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Many people in the media were careful to point out that Trump was not planning to shoot anyone but was simply illustrating a point.
Fair enough. But things changed yesterday afternoon when New York Magazine published a lengthy excerpt from E. Jean Carroll’s upcoming book from St. Martin’s Press, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. In it, Carroll presents a highly detailed and credible account of an alleged encounter with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman some 23 years ago. If it is true, then it means that Trump violently raped someone on Fifth Avenue – and he probably won’t lose any voters.
Attempting to paraphrase Carroll’s account of her lurid encounter with Trump would do a disservice to her powerful, personal writing. Suffice it to say, Carroll, now 76, presents Trump as earning a spot on her “Most Hideous Men of My Life List,” which includes “the 21 most revolting scoundrels I have ever met” over many decades. Her lengthy excerpt is a disturbing but essential read, a courageous and tragic memoir that reveals how certain men commit cruel, violent sexual assault with impunity thanks to their wealth, power, status, and team of skillful and zealous attorneys.
And so, Trump released a statement yesterday that is as pathetic as it is predictable, calling the entire account “fake news” and attacking New York Magazine as a “dying publication.” One of Trump’s assertions, that “I’ve never met this person in my life,” is instantly proven false by a 1987 photograph included in the article itself that clearly shows Carroll and her husband socializing with Trump and Ivana. Then comes Trump’s classic projection, trying to turn the tables on who is moral while framing himself as the true champion of “real” victims. He wrote: “False accusations diminish the severity of real assault. All should condemn false accusations and any actual assault in the strongest possible terms.”
Carroll is far from the first woman to credibly accuse Trump of sexual assault, and she admits to expecting similar treatment to what the other women received from men who “turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack” them for coming forward. But Carroll’s story needs to be told, better late than never. Trump said it perfectly at the end of his statement yesterday: “The world should know what’s really going on.”