A reporter asked Donald Trump at his long, rambling press conference yesterday whether the sexual-misconduct claims he's faced shapes his perspective on Brett Kavanaugh confronting related allegations. The president's answer wasn't exactly helpful.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that allegations of sexual misconduct against him "impact my opinion" on what he described as false charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.In extended comments during a press conference that lasted about 80 minutes on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in New York, Trump portrayed himself as a victim of multiple made-up allegations.
If you missed the exchange, the transcript is worth your time. A reporter began by asking, "How have your personal experiences being accused by more than..." at which point Trump interrupted, sidestepped the actual question, and launched into an odd rant about the accusations themselves.
As far as the president is concerned, he was accused by "four or five women" -- he encouraged the media to "check with" Fox News' Sean Hannity for more information -- whom, Trump insisted, were paid to lie about him.
Eventually, after trying to shut down CBS News' Weijia Jiang as she tried to ask her actual question, the president eventually conceded that his experience affects his perspective on Kavanaugh "because I've had a lot of false charges made against me."
In other words, Trump identifies with his Supreme Court nominee -- just as he identified with Roy Moore when he faced related allegations during his ill-fated Senate race in Alabama a year ago. When prominent conservative men are accused of sexual misconduct, the president seems to often think of himself -- and in his mind, if women lied about him, his allies facing similar claims should be given the benefit of the doubt.
There are, of course, a few problems with this.
The most obvious is the fact that Trump appeared to be lying about his accusers. For example, it was at least a dozen women who came forward with allegations two years ago, not "four or five." The evidence that any of these women were paid to smear him does not exist.
It doesn't help matters to see the president continue to go after his accusers, even now, presenting himself as a victim.
But note what happened when NBC's Hallie Jackson reminded Trump that he keeps giving the benefit of the doubt to men -- Roy Moore, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and Brett Kavanaugh -- accused of mistreating women. "Has there ever been an instance when you've given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?" she asked.
After arguing moments earlier, "It's not a benefit of the doubt," Trump said, "I've known them for a long time and a lot of these people. A lot of people. And some I've been disappointed with. I have been disappointed with some others like -- you know, there are charges that are pretty weak. But I've known people for a long time."
Perhaps someone can explain to the president what "benefit of the doubt" means?