Donald Trump has a question. Speaking at a rally Friday in North Carolina, Trump wondered aloud why 15 women have accused him of sexually assaulting them but none has come forward to charge President Barack Obama with the same offense.
The Republican presidential nominee said:
Look, Obama is an incompetent. He’s an incompetent president. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he’s out campaigning all day long. He’s talking about me like he knows me. I don’t know him; he doesn’t know me.
Why doesn’t some woman maybe come up and say what they say falsely about me, they could say about him? They could say it about anybody. They could say it about anybody. I’ll tell you what, he better be careful, because they could say it about anybody. Anybody at all.
But Obama is an incompetent. As a president he’s about as bad as it gets. Look at what’s happening, how Iran is taunting us. Look at the world.
Since the flood of accusations began against him earlier this week, Trump has not only denied the claims but leveled personal attacks against the women making them. ("Believe me, she would not be my first choice," Trump said about one of the women today.)
Trump has also gone after the timing of his accusers, implying that they’re only coming forward now to tip the election to Hillary Clinton. As Vox’s Emily Crockett explains today, this is nonsense — the barriers to reporting sexual assault against famous men are massive.
"Many victims never report the crimes against them in the first place," Crockett writes. "And it shouldn’t be a surprise that they may only decide to come forward years later — because it takes that long to process the trauma, or to muster up the courage to put yourself through the reporting process, or to find the time to put the rest of your life on hold to pursue justice."
When the history of the Trump campaign is written, it’s hard to know what will stand out as its most shocking moments. Given the yawn with which the press mostly greeted Trump baselessly speculating today why the president hadn’t been accused of sexual assault, this off-the-cuff remark will probably not be among them. And that itself is pretty telling.