Trump’s History of Defending Men Accused of Hurting Women

Well before the #MeToo movement gained momentum, Donald J. Trump weighed in on allegations against several well-known men, including himself. A look at his past statements shows a man quick to defend other men.

After the White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, resigned in the face of accusations that he had abused his two former wives, President Trump tweeted in defense of people whose “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

“Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,” he wrote on Saturday. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

The Twitter post was in line with a general pattern: Since he became the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, Mr. Trump has defended several men accused of sexual misconduct, including himself.

Even before becoming a politician, Mr. Trump weighed in on allegations against well-known men, though he did not always side with the accused.

Here is a history of the president’s responses to sexual misconduct and abuse allegations.

Mr. Porter announced his resignation on Wednesday after the news surfaced that his two former wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, said he had been physically and verbally abusive.

Credit...Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The allegations, which Mr. Porter denied, were reportedly known to some people in the White House, including John F. Kelly, the president’s chief of staff. But Mr. Trump praised Mr. Porter when asked about him on Friday. “He worked very hard,” the president said, adding that he was surprised by the allegations.

“He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him,” he said. “But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now.”

In November, Mr. Trump defended Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, who had been accused of sexually assaulting and preying on teenage girls.

Credit...Bob Miller for The New York Times

Mr. Moore denied the allegations, which dated back decades and dogged him throughout the campaign. He lost the race to Doug Jones, a Democrat, despite the president’s support.

“He totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Moore in November. “He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him, also.”

Bill O’Reilly, a host at Fox News, was forced off the network in April after The New York Times reported that five women had received settlements after making harassment claims against him.

Credit...Richard Drew/Associated Press

The president said from the Oval Office that Mr. O’Reilly, a longtime friend, should not have settled with his accusers.

“Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” he said. “I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.”

Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News who was ousted in 2016 after claims of sexual harassment by the former anchor Gretchen Carlson, advised Mr. Trump before the presidential debates.

Credit...Angel Franco/The New York Times

During a July 2016 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said he “felt very badly” for Mr. Ailes, who died in May 2017.

“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” he said.

“And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him,” he added. “It’s very sad. Because he’s a very good person.”

In March 2016, Mr. Trump defended his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski against a battery charge after a reporter, Michelle Fields, accused him of grabbing and bruising her arm at a campaign event in Florida.

Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

Mr. Lewandowski denied the charge, which was dropped two weeks later by a prosecutor.

Mr. Trump criticized Ms. Fields for seeking a response to questions after a news conference had ended. “How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t you think she would have yelled out a scream if she had bruises on her arm?”

Mr. Trump’s reactions to misconduct allegations have appeared to fall along partisan lines.

Credit...Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

He criticized Al Franken, then a Democratic senator, last November after Mr. Franken was accused of groping women. A 2006 photograph appeared to show Mr. Franken, who was then working as a comedian, grabbing a woman’s breasts as she slept.

“The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?”

Mr. Franken announced his resignation in December. “I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,” he said.

Mr. Trump has often highlighted the accusations of sexual harassment and assault against former President Bill Clinton.

Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump held a surprise news conference before a debate with three women who had accused Mr. Clinton of sexual misconduct. At the debate itself, Mr. Trump’s campaign tried to place a group of the women in seats in his V.I.P. box, right next to Mr. Clinton and in Hillary Clinton’s line of sight from the stage. The debate’s organizers blocked the stunt.

Before Mr. Trump clinched the Republican nomination, he sometimes commented on high-profile cases of men who were accused of misconduct, abuse or assault.

He famously called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, the black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping and assaulting a white woman in Central Park in 1989. (The men were exonerated in 2002, but Mr. Trump insisted as recently as 2016 that they had “admitted they were guilty.”)

Credit...Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In 1992, Mr. Trump said Mike Tyson, a friend whose boxing matches had brought crowds to Mr. Trump’s casinos, should not go to jail for a rape conviction, Mother Jones reported. “I don’t know, after knowing Mike, I don’t know how it did happen,” Mr. Trump said. “But it was a jury. It was a jury verdict.”

In 2012, Mr. Trump tweeted about reports that Rihanna was back together with her ex-boyfriend, the musician Chris Brown, who had assaulted her in 2009. Mr. Trump wrote that Rihanna must have a “death wish,” adding that “a beater is always a beater — just watch!”

And in 2015, Mr. Trump said in a radio interview that he thought the comedian Bill Cosby, who had been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women, was “guilty as hell.”

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