Presidents Should Not Get Away With Sexual Misconduct
Listen to a candid discussion about how Donald Trump and Joe Biden have dodged multiple sexual misconduct accusations.
CLICK HERE to listen to Peter Daou’s conversation with trauma expert Anthony Zenkus on Trump, Biden, and the Me Too movement.
NOTE: Allegations against Joe Biden are not diminished by arguing that Donald Trump is worse. The U.S. presidency isn’t a sexual misconduct competition.
In light of the recent passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, it’s time to take another look at why U.S. presidents keep getting away with sexual misconduct.
Let’s start with Trump.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST DONALD TRUMP
Trump has been accused of rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment by more than two dozen women and has yet to face any consequences.
Trump’s pattern of behavior is despicable. Former Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants have said that Trump walked into their dressing rooms. In the infamous Access Hollywood tape that became public during the 2016 election, Trump boasted about committing sexual assault: "I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."
Trump has yet to face criminal charges for his actions. Notably, the Biden Justice Department has sided with Trump in the case of E. Jean Carroll, one of Trump’s accusers:
The Biden Justice Department is forging ahead with a controversial legal effort started under former President Donald Trump to intervene on Trump's behalf in a defamation lawsuit brought against him by a writer who says Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.
In 2020, the Michigan Journal of Gender & Law called for a government inquiry into Trump’s crimes:
The many allegations reported in the media have not been amenable to judicial, legislative, executive, or political resolution. Women, including women who allege Trump committed sexual misconduct against them when they were minors, have generally not been afforded the remedies to which they are entitled. Because litigation and media accounts have proven inadequate to the task of addressing Trump’s sexual misconduct, there should be a government inquiry and resulting Report.
As with so many of his transgressions, Trump is effectively above the law. It is a monstrous travesty that Trump’s accusers cannot get justice.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST JOE BIDEN
In May 2020, Business Insider reported that Biden faced at least eight accusations of sexual misconduct, inappropriate touching, and/or violations of women’s personal space:
Eight women have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space in ways that made them uncomfortable. One of those women, Tara Reade, alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993.
Biden has also been criticized for repeatedly commenting on the physical appearance of women on the campaign trail, and for refusing to explicitly apologize for his behavior.
Biden’s long-standing reputation for disregarding the boundaries of women and girls led the Daily Show to run a 2015 piece, The Audacity of Grope, about Biden’s constant touching and hair-sniffing.
Professor Anthony Zenkus, who has spent years working with survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking, has spoken out about Biden’s troubling behavior. In the video below, he discusses Biden’s repeated intrusion on the physical space of children.
Biden’s inappropriate behavior became an issue during the 2020 presidential primary. Then-candidate Kamala Harris was asked about the women making allegations against him. Her response: “I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.”
In just about any other professional setting, Biden’s pattern of misconduct would warrant thorough investigation, and likely termination. Which is why I argued during the Democratic primary that Biden was disqualified from the presidency, something I believe just as strongly today:
BOTTOM LINE: Both Trump and Biden should face serious consequences for their behavior.