Donald Trump was headed to Marine One this morning when a reporter asked the president about his message to the country’s young men in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh controversy. He offered a notable response.
President Trump said Tuesday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s experience following sexual assault allegations marked a difficult moment for young men.
“It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn as he left for an event in Pennsylvania.
“You can be somebody that was perfect your entire life, and somebody could accuse you of something,” he added.
It matters, of course, that false accusations of sexual assault are actually quite rare. But let’s also take a moment to acknowledge just how poor a messenger Trump is for this particular message.
Nearly 30 years ago, a group of black and Latino teenagers were accused of attacking a woman in New York. The group became known as the Central Park Five, and the controversy became the basis for an important controversy.
Trump weighed in at the time, buying full-page newspaper ads that called for the return of the death penalty, exploiting the crime to advance his message.
The teenagers were soon after convicted, though they were exonerated when DNA evidence showed that the Central Park Five did not commit the crime. The city ended up paying the accused in a multi-million-dollar settlement.
In 2016, shortly before getting elected to the presidency, Trump said he still thought the Central Park Five were guilty.
Two years later, when it’s Brett Kavanaugh under fire, Trump is suddenly deeply concerned about how “scary” a time it is for young men, since people they don’t know may accuse them of crimes they “may not be guilty of.”
After all, “somebody could accuse you of something.”
The president was also asked this morning about his message to American women. He replied, “Women are doing great.” Evidently, Trump doesn’t think it’s “a very scary time” for the other half of the population.