Less than two months ago, Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, came forward to accuse Donald Trump of kissing her without her consent in 2016. In so doing, Johnson became the 16th woman to accuse the president of groping, kissing, or assaulting her. At least seven additional women have accused Trump of sexual harassment.
Beyond the slew of accusations, Trump was infamously recorded bragging about groping women on a hot mic. When his remarks were published by the Washington Post in October 2016, Trump issued a perfunctory apology and downplayed it as “locker room talk,” but the behavior he boasted about reflects the accounts of many of his accusers.
If you thought any of that would have persuaded Trump to forgo trying to score points against his political opponents based on accusations of inappropriate behavior, however, think again. On Thursday afternoon, Trump tweeted out doctored footage of Joe Biden that’s meant to mock the former vice president for a video he shared the day before. In the original video, Biden responded to accusations he repeatedly invaded women’s personal space by promising “to be much more mindful.”
In the video Trump tweeted, Biden is shown grabbing himself on the shoulders and kissing himself on the head — the same sort of inappropriately handsy behavior the former vice president is now reckoning with.
Trump’s decision to try to capitalize on accusations of inappropriate behavior despite all of the allegations against him illustrates the sheer shamelessness of his administration. And it’s not just the president. During a Fox News interview last Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said video of Biden’s “creepy” behavior would be “a big problem” for him if he ran for president, completely ignoring the fact that her boss has been accused of far worse.
.@KellyannePolls on @JoeBiden: If anybody just types in “Creepy Uncle Joe Videos” you come up with a treasure trove…I think Joe Biden has a big problem here because he calls it affection and handshakes, his party calls it completely inappropriate. pic.twitter.com/MKbbw2mUIC— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) March 31, 2019
None of this is meant to defend Biden. The video he posted on Wednesday stops short of apologizing for his behavior, and his line that “[s]ocial norms are changing” obfuscates the fact that at least two women — Lucy Flores and Amy Lappos — accused him of conduct they say was inappropriate at the time, not just in hindsight. If Biden decides to run in the first post-#MeToo presidential election, his treatment of women will rightfully be something he has to answer for. But Trump is definitely not in a position to make a good faith case against him.
So if Trump isn’t genuinely concerned about the treatment of women, what’s the point of his tweet? One likely possibility: ending Biden’s candidacy before it officially begins. The vice president continues to outpoll the Democratic presidential candidates who are already officially running, and he’s currently outpolling Trump by anywhere between five and 13 points.