To some leading Republicans and conservative bloggers, the timing of new sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump looks suspicious. Why the sudden surge of accusers in the final stretch of the presidential election?
During the second presidential debate on Sunday, Donald Trump said that he had engaged in “locker room talk” but denied having ever committed sexual assault in any form.
Now, a few days later, at least four women have come forward to say that Trump was lying and that he had, in fact, groped, kissed, or made advances toward them without their consent. Some have found this suspect.
“If I had been sexually harassed by this man — the Megyn Kelly story would have given me an opportunity; there have been a thousand of the reports already,” said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, speculating on live television about what he would do were he a woman who had been sexually harassed by Trump. “I’m skeptical about the timing of all of this dropping.”
Added conservative blogger Jazz Shaw at HotAir: “Can we talk about the real elephant in the room here? Are we simply going to ignore the awfully convenient timing of this batch of accusations in defiance of reason and the normal rules of engagement in political warfare?
Sen. Ted Cruz also speculated about the “timing.”
Cruz suspicious of the timing of Trump tape release: Why now? https://t.co/qNwkUPldWL pic.twitter.com/z3n2DH5sZG— The Hill (@thehill) October 10, 2016
Leading the charge on this line of defense has been Trump himself. Responding to the allegations, his campaign has argued that it is “absurd” to consider the timing of these accusations as stemming from anything but purely political reasons.
“For this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all,” senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement denying the women’s accusations.
There is no mystery about why Trump’s accusers are coming out now
The most obvious problem with this focus on the “timing” of Trump’s accusers is that it deflects attention from the charges leveled against him.
Trump is being accused of committing crimes. Debating the timing of these stories makes the debate about the accusers’ motives rather than the obviously much more important question of whether the allegations are true. Doing so also suggests that the women’s accounts are politically motivated, and therefore dubious.
Interesting that some on the right seem more concerned with timing of press' Trump sexual assault stories & not, you know, the allegations.— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) October 13, 2016
But even if you grant that the “timing” is a critical issue worthy of discussion here, there really is no mystery about why these women are speaking now — at least if you take the time to listen to what they say.
Here’s how Jessica Leeds, 74, reacted to watching Trump promise on the presidential debate stage that he had never groped a woman, according to the New York Times (Leeds told the Times that Trump reached under her skirt during an airplane ride in the 1980s):
Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview in her apartment.
And here’s a Florida woman, Mindy McGillivray, who told the Palm Beach Post that Trump groped her:
Watching (the debate) at home in Palm Springs, McGillivray said she rose from her couch and yelled at the TV screen: “‘You liar!’’’
And then there’s People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who writes that Trump pushed her up against a wall and forced his tongue down her throat:
During the presidential debate, Donald Trump lied about kissing women without their consent. I should know. His actions made me feel bad for a very long time.
There is no mystery about why Trump’s accusers are coming out now. The only mystery is why anyone still thinks it’s a more important question to ask than whether Trump committed sexual assault.