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North writes: "When two women told the FBI that White House staff secretary Rob Porter had abused them, Porter joined a line of Trumpworld men accused of choking, grabbing, threatening, hitting, or otherwise abusing women."

Donald Trump. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Donald Trump. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


Trump's Long History of Employing - and Defending - Men Accused of Hurting Women

By Anna North, Vox

10 February 18


Rob Porter is one of a string of Trumpworld men accused of abuse.

ALSO SEE: White House Speechwriter Is 2nd Staffer
This Week to Resign Amid Domestic-Abuse Allegations

hen two women told the FBI that White House staff secretary Rob Porter had abused them, Porter joined a line of Trumpworld men accused of choking, grabbing, threatening, hitting, or otherwise abusing women.

At least five administration and campaign figures (including Trump himself) have been the subject of abuse allegations. Rather than treat such allegations with gravity, Trump and his team have chosen to ignore them, to fire back at the women on Twitter, or to parrot men’s assurances of their innocence over women’s reports.

On Friday, for instance, Trump reminded Americans that Porter maintains his innocence, and said, “we certainly wish him well and it’s a tough time for him.”

Porter resigned amid public pressure, but Trump’s response is a good reminder of the lesson he’s learned from escaping the reckoning sweeping much of the rest of the country — #MeToo does not apply to him. And given his tolerance for men accused of abuse inside his very inner circle, it’s clear he doesn’t think it applies to his closest associates, either. Trump’s team may lose men like Porter periodically, but the message the president sent on Friday was clear: to him, violence against women really doesn’t matter.

The Trump camp has embraced a whole list of men accused of abuse

Porter, who played the pivotal White House role of managing the flow of documents and memos across the president’s desk, announced his resignation on Wednesday. Two of his ex-wives publicly reported that he had abused them. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, says he kicked, punched, and choked her. She provided the Intercept with photographs of bruises she says Porter inflicted on her. The former White House staffer’s second wife told the Daily Mail that he dragged her by her shoulders out of the shower to yell at her; in an April 2017 blog post, she wrote, “in my home, the abuse was insidious.”

Porter is one in a string of Trump campaign and administration staffers to be accused of abuse or violence:

  • Steve Bannon, CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign and White House chief strategist until August 2017, was charged in 1996 with domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness. According to a 1996 police report quoted in Politico, Bannon’s then-wife said he grabbed her neck, then threw the phone across the room when she tried to call 911. The charges were eventually dismissed when Bannon’s wife was “unable to be located,” according to court records — she filed for divorce a few months later.
  • Corey Lewandowski, then Trump’s campaign manager, was charged with battery in March 2016 after a Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields, reported that he had forcibly grabbed her. The incident was captured on video, but a prosecutor declined to proceed with the case.

  • Andrew Puzder, Trump’s initial nominee for Secretary of Labor, was accused of assault and battery by his ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein. In documents that were part of their 1988 divorce proceedings, Fierstein said that Puzder had struck her “violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause.” And in 1990, Fierstein spoke of her experience on The Oprah Winfrey Show, saying Puzder had told her, “I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.” Fierstein retracted the abuse claims in a letter to Puzder after his nomination for labor secretary; he ultimately withdrew from consideration.

  • President Trump, meanwhile, has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 17 women. One of them is his ex-wife, Ivana, who reportedly stated in a 1990 divorce deposition that Trump had pulled out a fistful of her hair and raped her. In 2015, after Trump announced his candidacy for president, she issued a statement saying that a Daily Beast story about the alleged rape was “without merit.”

The Trump camp has typically dismissed allegations of violence against women — or gone after women who came forward

When members of Trump’s team have been accused of violence against women, Trump has typically either ignored or sought to quash the allegations.

Trump, then a candidate, spoke with prosecutors in the Lewandowski case, telling them that Fields had also touched Lewandowski and urging them to “do the right thing,” one of the prosecutors told the New York Times. Trump also went after Fields on Twitter, writing, “Why aren’t people looking at this reporters earliest statement as to what happened, that is before she found out the episode was on tape?”

According to Politico, the White House was considering a role for Puzder in January, despite his ex-wife’s allegations. Women’s rights groups were disturbed by the news that the administration would still consider hiring Puzder. “It shows an utter disregard to the awakening around sexual harassment and abuse,” Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, told Politico.

When Trump eventually blasted Bannon in public, it had nothing to do with his ex-wife’s abuse reports, and everything to do with criticisms of Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner, attributed to Bannon in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said of Bannon in January, harsh words he hadn’t applied when news of Bannon’s alleged abuse broke.

And in the case of Rob Porter, Trump has appeared more concerned with the former staffer’s job prospects than with the physical and emotional wounds his ex-wives say they sustained. “We hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him,” the president said on Friday. Of the allegations, Trump said, “it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he’s also very sad now.”

“He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” Trump added. “So you’ll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well, he did a very good job while he was at the White House.”

Trump’s comments Friday, during which he made no mention of Porter’s ex-wives at all, were typical of his reaction when members of his staff are accused of violence against women. At best, he ignores the women who come forward to make such accusations; at worst, he publicly criticizes them. He does not acknowledge the severity of the allegations or consider the possibility that he might choose not to have people accused of abuse in his inner circle, especially at a time of deep public concern about harassment, abuse, and assault.

Of course, this is not especially surprising since that public concern has yet to affect Trump in any meaningful way. Dismissing and denying the many allegations of sexual misconduct against him has worked for him so far, so why not apply the same standard to his staff?

Ultimately, Trump’s statement on Porter is a reminder that the president essentially stands outside #MeToo. He has never been forced to take the accusations against him seriously, and he appears not to take accusations against his team seriously, either. The result is an administration that, while it may suffer periodic losses like Porter or Puzder, remains fundamentally blind to the reckoning going on in the rest of the country. #MeToo may be dominating conversations in homes and offices across America, but the most powerful man in the country has never been forced to care.


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+10 # PeacefulGarden 2018-02-10 14:58
Ya' know, this is that old psycho-mythic-p ersonal development gloop. Like, we all create separate personae for our parents, one each for mother and father. Then we develop those personae masks and choose our favorite one. So, you are either a mask of your father or mother... I think it is all Jungian, Hermann Hesse stuff. But it is true. And, Ump has obviously selected the father mask... now the trick is how his mother dealt with that choice. And did he ever wear the mother mask? Perhaps tried it on and felt dominated?

It is a given, he saw domestic abuse as a child in his house, hidden or otherwise. So, women, especially abused, are the least understood object in his mind. Something tucked away, because monied dad mattered more. And, yep, he surrounded himself with the like minded.

How many families exist in this state on planet earth?

When will fathers understand their sons development, understand their role and allow their sons to dwell in the mask of their mother?
 
 
+30 # DongiC 2018-02-10 19:02
Let's make this bullying misogynist care. Impeach and convict President Trump and teach him what equal rights are all about. The Republican Party in lining up behind their peerless leader make me sick! They too need a lesson in what it takes to be human.
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-02-11 13:55
Are you sure you can teach him. I'd say he is unteachable. I'm also pretty sure the republican party is incapable of learning a lesson. Why not just defeat them and let them go home and disappear.
 
 
+3 # opinionaire 2018-02-11 09:54
When the Dumpster hires, he only hires "the best"--he told us so. Of course, he has said many things, some contradictory things, which he later denies having said, even if they are recorded. I believe he hires others like himself, and a few ornamental women, or others for show. None have an actual voice, if any but his counts. I am really amused by the trope being put out by the WH on the firing of Omarosa (who should never have been there in the first place), that she had been "fired three times." Doesn't that mean the Dumpster hired her after "firing" her?
 
 
0 # wilding 2018-02-11 13:35
Hatred of women and Tyranny go hand in hand.
 
 
0 # kcmwilson 2018-02-11 13:53
Trump has always objectified women, apparently viewing women as rewards to be shown off or taken as prizes. He might hire a talented woman in much the same manner one would choose to take on a dog that can do lots of tricks. He then exhibits pride at being the smart one who chose the talented woman or dog. Other than that, women are only paid attention to if they are an 8, 9 or 10...according to Trump's genius intellectual perspective of course...k
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-02-11 13:58
I'm pretty sure that most men who beat their wives or girlfriends are employed. That means most employers employ and defend men who are wife-beaters. Evil did not begin with Trump. He's only the latest in a long line of corrupt politicians. Blaming everything on Trump is an act of defending everyone else who has done the same things. That's just not very smart.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2018-02-11 16:07
Trump's Long History of Employing - and Defending - Men Accused of Hurting Women, 10 February 18

- we had our last good shot at escaping dickhead in nov. 2016 - AND WHIFFED!

“never hillary!” = “dickhead forever!”

don’t it always seem to go?
that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone? - j. mitchell

“we have seen the enemy! and they are us! - pogo
 

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