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Trump tries to push back against latest sexual-assault allegation

Given the seriousness of the sexual-assault allegations, Donald Trump's pushback against E. Jean Carroll wasn't much of a response.
US President Donald Trump walks after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 28, 2017.

The public learned on Friday about new sexual-assault allegations E. Jean Carroll, a longtime writer and media figure, raised against Donald Trump. Her account, published as a book excerpt in New York magazine, described an alleged incident in a department store in the mid-1990s in which the future president attacked her in a dressing room.

Carroll said she told two friends about the alleged incident at the time, both of whom are journalists the writer did not identify by name. She's the latest in a series of women who've accused Trump of misconduct.

The president issued a written response on Friday afternoon, claiming he's never met Carroll. The New York magazine article, however, included a photograph of the two interacting at an event years before the alleged attack,

During a brief Q&A with reporters a day after the book excerpt was published, Trump again said he has "no idea who this woman is." Reminded of the photograph, he said of the picture, "Standing with coat on in a line -- give me a break --with my back to the camera." The president went on to say:

"What she did is -- it's terrible, what's going on. So it's a total false accusation and I don't know anything about her. And she's made this charge against others."And, you know, people have to be careful because they're playing with very dangerous territory. And when they do that -- and it's happening more and more. When you look at what happened to Justice Kavanaugh and you look at what's happening to others, you can't do that for the sake of publicity."

Trump proceeded to question New York magazine's financial footing -- twice -- before claiming that Fox News has evidence of "numerous" women who were paid to "say bad things" about him.

Given the seriousness of the sexual-assault allegations, this isn't much of a response.

First, Carroll's claims are credible; she spoke to two people about the alleged incident at the time; and the details of her version of events are reminiscent of the claims Trump himself made about his actions toward women in the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape.

Second, Trump's assertion on Saturday that Carrol has "made this charge against others" isn't actually an argument. Some women have had more than one attacker. When someone raises multiple accusations, that does not immediately prove the innocence of the accused.

Third, the president points to Brett Kavanaugh as an example of someone who was falsely accused, as if this were plainly true. In reality, the allegations against the Supreme Court justice weren't discredited.

George Conway, a prominent lawyer married to a leading White House official, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post over the weekend, arguing that Carroll's rape allegations are more credible than those raised by Juanita Broaddrick against Bill Clinton during his presidency.

"Republicans or conservatives who promoted Broaddrick's charges would be hypocritical if they fail to champion Carroll and condemn Trump," Conway wrote.