Two women – both of whom are supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – have come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault – including inappropriate touching and kissing – over a 3-decade period.
Jessica Leeds – now 74 – alleges that she sat next to Donald Trump on a plane over 30 years ago. She had initially been sat in the cabin section, but was offered a seat in first class, and that seat happened to be next to Trump, a man she had never met.
According to Ms. Leeds, about 45 minutes after takeoff, Trump – whom she referred to as an “octopus” in her interview with the New York Times – pushed up the armrest and started to touch her breasts and tried to reach up her skirt. At that point, Ms. Leeds went to the back of the plane.
Why didn’t she report it at the time? She said that these kinds of advances from men were not uncommon 30 years ago. She was a businesswoman and was always told that those unwanted advances were women’s fault. She came forward to tell her story to the Times after audio and video from 2005 emerged showing Trump bragging about what he’s able to do to women, because he’s a “star.”
The other woman who came forward was Rachel Crooks, who in 2005 was a 22-year-old receptionist for Bayrock Group. That company had office space in Trump Tower in Manhattan, and according to Ms. Crooks, she encountered Trump outside an elevator one morning. She introduced herself and shook his hand, but he wouldn’t let go. He then started to kiss her cheeks, and then her mouth. She said it didn’t feel like an accident, but rather a violation. She told her sister and her boyfriend but concluded that there was nothing she could do, because of his position.
These accounts are a double-edged sword. If I worked for the Clinton campaign, I’d advise staying far away from these accounts, no matter how politically damaging they might be for Trump. They wouldn’t help Hillary’s campaign either. They have to know that the Trump campaign will only respond with more graphic and extreme accounts from Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and all the rest. And not just about Bill Clinton. But also how Hillary tried to silence these women, as they stood in her and her husband’s political career path.
On the other hand, the Trump campaign has to tread very carefully with these new accusations. So far, he has predictably denied all the accounts. But it’s starting to sound like what Bill and Hillary did to Bill’s accusers, albeit at a much lesser degree. He can’t come across like he doesn’t care. He can’t come across like he wants to silence them. That’s exactly what he accused Bill and Hillary of. He has to come across as caring and understanding. He doesn’t have to “admit” to anything, but like Hillary said in the last debate, when your opponent goes low, you go high. He can’t make the same mistakes as the Clintons have for decades.
This is why it was a very risky move on Trump’s part to bring in Bill’s rape accusers. If he had a clean record, it would have been a no-brainer. But that’s not likely the case. He had to know that if he went that route, there were going to be women coming forward to accuse him of at least sexual assault – hopefully not rape (not that sexual assault is more defensible than rape), but we’ll see…maybe the Times is sitting on info to be released just before the next debate.
Of course, it was risky for the Clinton campaign to use the 2005 audio of Trump against him. If it hadn’t been for that, he likely would not have gone the “Bill’s a rapist” route.
Politics is like chess. You have to be able to anticipate your opponent’s moves well in advance and know exactly how to respond – especially when you make risky moves.
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