White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) reminds U.S. President Donald Trump he had a bill to sign after he departed quickly following remarks at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S., August 12, 2017. Picture taken August 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The wrong president to honor Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

Given what we know of Donald Trump’s past, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month presents the president with a challenge. If he failed to recognize the occasion, the White House would look awful. But by trying to honor the occasion, the president invited scorn.

President Trump, who faces sexual misconduct accusations from numerous women, on Friday declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

“Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability,” Trump’s presidential proclamation read.

Since 2001, the U.S. has observed April as sexual assault awareness month, with some advocates holding events to mark the month since the 1990s, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Both former president Barack Obama and Trump previously used presidential proclamations to raise awareness for the issue in April.

The full statement is online here. Note, in the fifth paragraph, the White House misspelled “assault” three times, including two different misspellings in the same sentence.

But stepping back, the typos are the least of Team Trump’s troubles.

As we discussed around this time last year, much of the world heard Trump’s “Access Hollywood” recording in which he boasted about his romantic exploits, which eventually led him to brag about committing sexual assaults. The Republican said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers beautiful – “I don’t even wait,” Trump claimed – which he said he can get away with because of his public profile.

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the recording. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p—y.”

After Trump denied having done what he bragged about doing, many women came forward to accuse the Republican of sexual misconduct – one of whom is currently suing the president for defamation, stemming from the controversy.

He’s not, in other words, someone who can speak with authority about Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

What’s more, incidents like these keep coming up. When it came time for National POW/MIA Recognition Day, for example, we were reminded of Trump’s snide mockery of former prisoners of war. He honored World Autism Day, which only brought to mind the ridiculous things Trump has said about autism and vaccines.

Last fall, the president issued a proclamation in support of “National Character Counts Week,” in which he reflected on how “we treat others” and the importance of “cultivating strong character.”

As we discussed at the time, this isn’t a dynamic that’s likely to go away anytime soon. If Trump honors those with physical disabilities, we’ll be reminded of his mockery of Serge Kovaleski. If the president recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ll think of his racist attacks against a Latino judge. If he honors Gold Star parents, we’ll be reminded of his unfortunate remarks about the Khan family.

The president has a weight he’ll drag with him for the remainder of his term: his own record.