Disgraced actors have been removed from films and TV shows. Longtime morning show hosts are being replaced by substitutes. Celebrity entrepreneurs are stepping away from business empires that made them rich and famous. Politicians are resigning, their careers in tatters.
Meanwhile, President Trump is the R. Kelly of presidents.
Like the R&B crooner who has waded through a quarter-century of sexual misconduct allegations without getting wet, Trump has also remained largely, bizarrely unscathed. Since last year, more than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual harassment and/or assault.
Now, the #MeToo movement is crashing the front door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
This week, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, veered from the White House’s “fake news” line regarding Trump’s accusers. During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” she said they “should be heard, and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”
More than 50 Democratic congresswomen are calling for an investigation by the House Oversight Committee into the Trump allegations. In a letter to its chairman, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, they wrote, “We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr. Trump.”
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is more succinct: “President Trump should resign.” Predictably and despicably, Trump has attacked Gillibrand in a tweet, claiming she “would do anything” for a campaign donation. His sexist subtext was grossly obvious.
Long ignored, Trump’s accusers are again talking, seizing this electrified moment of broken silences and truths revealed. At a press conference, Rachel Crooks, Samantha Holvey, and Jessica Leeds — say their names — spoke about their accusations as well as how it felt to be dismissed and disbelieved while Trump was elected president.
“We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and how he views women, and for them to say, ‘Eh, we don’t care,’ it hurt,” Holvey said. Now, “the environment’s different. Let’s try again,” she said.
Before we learned that famous men use bathrobes as weapons of sexual terrorism, Trump’s alleged behavior among women was a late-campaign talking point. And it was Trump doing the talking — not only on that notorious 2005 “Access Hollywood” audiotape, where he brags about grabbing women by the genitals without consent, but also in a decade-old Howard Stern radio interview. Trump boasted about walking in on contestants, in various stages of undress, backstage at his pageants.
“No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump says. “‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”
Holvey, a former pageant contestant, confirmed Trump’s recollection.
This is clear: Trump will not resign. Nor will the current Republican-led Congress investigate anything related to this president. To the party of Trump (and accused child molester Roy Moore), sexual misconduct is the Democrats’ problem. Without question, Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers had to go, yet that’s a standard the GOP will only recognize for men across the aisle. They care about women only as much as the #MeToo movement forces out their political foes.
That doesn’t mean this reckoning should stop at the Oval Office. To the contrary, this culture-shaking moment demands that no man be exempt from consequences for his sexual misconduct. Survivors of sexual assault and harassment will no longer stand for it. In this roiling age of accountability, that includes morning show hosts, the singer of your favorite summer jam, and the self-incriminating president of the United States.
Yes, President Trump, #YouToo.Renée Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.