In 2005, a live microphone picked up Donald Trump chatting on a bus with journalist Billy Bush (who is a cousin of George and Jeb). Trump is now the Republican candidate for US president in voting due on 8 November.
There were seven other people on the bus, two camera crew, the driver, a producer, a production assistant, a security guard and a PR person. Trump told the bus about how he tried and failed to “fuck” another journalist, Nancy O’Dell, and then boasted that he did sexual assault whenever he felt like it. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump has responded by claiming it was just “locker room banter”, and by citing a civil case about sexual harassment in 1991 brought against president Bill Clinton which was indeed substantial enough to force Clinton to pay $850,000 damages to Paula Jones and to surrender his licences as a lawyer.
In fact Trump was boasting about a crime: sexual assault, which is what groping a woman without her consent is. Civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred says she has been contacted by more women claiming they have been sexually harassed or abused by Donald Trump. Of 130 employment cases brought against Trump and his companies over the years, 20 have involved complaints from women who claim a culture of sexual harassment dating back to the early 1980s.
This follows Trump’s racist comments about Mexican immigrants; calls for banning Muslims from entering the US; attacks on the parents of a Muslim US soldier killed in Iraq; and sexist rants about a number of individual women, such as Rosie O’Donnell and Alicia Machado.
The day that news of the 2005 comments broke, Trump declared that he still believed the Central Park Five — five young African American men falsely convicted in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case, who spent years in prison before being cleared — to be guilty. At the time of the trial, Trump took out a newspaper ad calling for reinstatement of the death penalty in New York. Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump.
The Republican National Committee has placed a moratorium on any spending for Trump. Hillary Clinton’s electoral strategy is now above all not to be Donald Trump. She wants to keep the focus as narrowly as possible on Trump’s foul blustering, and so deflect pressure on issues like taxing the rich, health care, or refugees. That won’t quell the political and social discontent that Trump exploits for the benefit of the right. It can only fuel many people’s feeling that, socially if not sexually, the wealthy elite still believes that “when you’re a star, they will let you” abuse them.