Trump says his past ac­cusers in­flu­ence think­ing on Ka­vanaugh

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

THIS is per­sonal for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

For 10 days, Trump has watched as al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct have swirled around Brett Ka­vanaugh, his nom­i­nee for the Supreme Court.

On Wed­nes­day, Trump spoke aloud what he’s been mulling in pri­vate, ac­knowl­edg­ing pub­licly for the first time that past al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct lev­eled against him color his views on sim­i­lar charges against other men, in­clud­ing Ka­vanaugh.

“It does im­pact my opin­ion and you know why?” Trump said. “Be­cause I’ve had a lot of false charges against me.”

What that, Trump cast his lot with the ac­cused in what has be­come a na­tional reck­on­ing over gen­der and sex­ual con­sent, and not just in fur­ther­ance of a long-sought con­ser­va­tive makeover of the high court.

“It’s hap­pened to me many times,” Trump said, claim­ing he’d been ac­cused — falsely — by “four or five women.”

In fact, more than a dozen women came for­ward dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, claim­ing they were as­saulted, groped or kissed with­out con­sent by Trump. Trump was also caught on tape in 2005 boast­ing of grab­bing women by their gen­i­tals and kiss­ing them with­out per­mis­sion. Those com­ments re­vealed in the fi­nal days of his cam­paign for the White House, Trump apol­o­gized, call­ing it “locker room talk.”

At a news con­fer­ence in New York a day be­fore Ka­vanaugh was set to tes­tify be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Trump pledged to lis­ten to the tes­ti­mony of Ka­vanaugh’s ac­cuser and even said he was open to chang­ing his mind about his nom­i­nee. But he made clear that he was deeply skep­ti­cal of these types of ac­cu­sa­tions.

“When you are guilty un­til proven in­no­cent it’s just not sup­posed to be that way,” he said.

Dur­ing the free-wheel­ing news con­fer­ence, Trump con­tin­ued to lash out at Democrats and la­bel the al­le­ga­tions against Ka­vanaugh po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. He also ex­pressed frus­tra­tions with the de­lays in the process guided by Repub­li­cans and took a shot at at­tor­ney Michael Ave­natti, who is rep­re­sent­ing the lat­est ac­cuser.

Trump’s re­marks un­der­scored the com­plex­ity of the mo­ment, as Repub­li­cans con­tinue their ef­forts to in­stall con­ser­va­tives on the high court. While Repub­li­cans want to move for­ward, they are mind­ful of the fall­out if they don’t take the ac­cu­sa­tions se­ri­ously. Should the ef­fort fail, the party would likely ex­plode in fin­ger-point­ing that could have im­pli­ca­tions in the No­vem­ber elec­tions.

“Repub­li­can se­na­tors have de­layed this for weeks now,” Trump said. “They are giv­ing the women a ma­jor chance to speak.”

He added: “It’s pos­si­ble that I’ll hear that and I’ll say I’m chang­ing my mind.”

Pushed to ac­knowl­edge the cul­tural mo­ment, Trump re­peat­edly re­turned to the idea that qual­i­fied men would lose out on jobs be­cause of al­le­ga­tions.

“I don’t want to be in a po­si­tion where peo­ple say, ‘No, thanks. I spoke to some­body 38 years ago, and it may not be good,’” Trump said, adding, “The peo­ple that have com­plained to me about it the most about what’s hap­pen­ing is women.”

Asked to ad­dress the na­tion’s young men, Trump said: “It’s a very dan­ger­ous pe­riod in our coun­try, and it’s be­ing per­pe­trated by some very evil peo­ple.” Trump’s com­ments about his ac­cusers drew swift re­ac­tion from an at­tor­ney for Sum­mer Zer­vos, a former con­tes­tant on Trump’s re­al­ity TV show “The Ap­pren­tice,” who says Trump made un­wanted ad­vances to­ward her, then de­famed her by say­ing she lied about it.

“It is of­fen­sive that in pur­port­ing to stand by a Supreme Court nom­i­nee who has been ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault, Mr. Trump has cho­sen once again to de­fame and at­tack women, in­clud­ing our client, who had the courage to come for­ward to tell the truth about his own un­wanted as­saultive be­hav­ior,” said Mar­i­ann Wang.

Ka­vanaugh and his chief ac­cuser, Chris­tine Blasey Ford, who says Ka­vanaugh as­saulted her in high school, are both ex­pected to tes­tify Thurs­day. Ford has claimed that Ka­vanaugh tried to re­move her clothes and clamped a hand over her mouth at a party when both were in high school. – AP

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