Barely a month after CNN reported that President Donald Trump’s initially “respectful” treatment of a sexual assault accuser left his aides “quietly stunned,” the president’s final two speeches before Tuesday’s midterm elections attacked the women who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“This woman came out and said she made up the story,” Trump said on Monday evening in Fort Wayne, Indiana, referring to a woman in Kentucky who reportedly admits she fabricated an allegation against Kavanaugh.
As the crowd started chanting “lock her up!” Trump added, “And they gotta look at the other ones also, folks, because ... take a look at the other ones, folks!”
By “other ones,” Trump was referring to Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, two women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
A couple of hours later in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Trump seized upon news of the fabricated Kavanaugh allegation to make a case that all of the women who accused Kavanaugh of misconduct were lying.
“It was false accusations, it was a scam, it was fake, it was all fake!” Trump said, ignoring the fact that both Ford and Ramirez have corroborating evidence for their claims.
Shortly after Ford came forward publicly with her account of being assaulted by Kavanaugh at a party while they were in high school, she disclosed that she and her family weren’t living at home because of threats she was receiving. Trump, however, called for renewed scrutiny on her anyway.
Despite what Trump’s comments might lead people to believe, neither Ford or Ramirez have recanted any part of their claims against Kavanaugh. But the president’s decision to attack them and subject them to further threats and public ridicule illustrates why women are reluctant to come forward with allegations against powerful men in the first place.
“Lock her up!” chants weren’t just directed toward Kavanaugh accusers on Monday night. During his rally in Missouri, conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh and Senate candidate Josh Hawley (R) each prompted the chant to be directed toward the typical object of Trump’s abuse, Hillary Clinton.
The president gave three speeches in three states during a whirlwind day on Monday. By the end of the final one in Cape Girardeau, his supporters seemed unsure what exactly is at stake on Tuesday, repeatedly chanting “four more years!” despite the fact Trump isn’t on the ballot until 2020 and will likely serve either two or six more years.
Trump leaned heavily into the culture wars during his speeches. For instance, during the rally in Missouri, Trump mentioned the solid jobs numbers that came out on Friday as an afterthought, and immediately pivoted to discussing another story that broke that day that he seemed to view as more significant — the revelation that an obscure allegation of misconduct against Kavanaugh turned out to be bogus.