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Trump laments resignations over abuse claims

February 10, 2018

In a tweet, the US president has questioned whether "due process" still exists after a pair of White House staff resignations. Critics have accused the Trump administration of maintaining a "culture of misogyny."

US President Donald Trump
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/M. Hoang

US President Donald Trump on Saturday lamented what he called the lack of due process for people accused of sexual misconduct and abuse after two White House staffers resigned over such claims.

"Peoples (sic) lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new," Trump said in a tweet. "There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as a Due Process?"

Read more: Why 2018 is the year of the woman

Trump's comments come amid a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse that has resulted in several powerful men resigning or being forced out of their posts, including film producer Harvey Weinstein, Republican financier Steve Wynn and former Democratic Senator Al Franken.

'Wish him well'

Earlier this week, White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after two of his ex-wives claimed he abused them, with one of them releasing a photo of herself with a black eye.

Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by several women, defended Porter after stepping down, saying "he says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that."

"We certainly wish him well, and it's a tough time for him," said Trump. "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." In his statement, Trump did not mention Porter's ex-wives or the accusations they made.

Meanwhile, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned on Friday after his ex-wife told The Washington Post newspaper that he threw her against a wall, grabbed her by the hair and put out a cigarette on her hand during their marriage. Both Porter and Sorensen have denied abusing women. Sorensen told the Post he quit because he "didn't want the White House to deal with this distraction." 

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter
Rob Porter's ex-wife accuser him of abusing her throughout their marriageImage: Getty Images/AFP/N. Kamm

What the Trump organization knew

Accusations of sexual assault and abuse against Trump — who has denied allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women — and those who surround him stretch back to before he took office. A recording of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women emerged during the 2016 presidential election campaign. He called it "locker room talk" and a "smear campaign."

Steve Bannon, who worked on Trump's campaign and later served in the White House as chief strategist, faced misdemeanor charges in 1996 for domestic abuse that were dropped when Bannon's accuser did not testify, though she later said Bannon had threatened her. Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested after grabbing a female reporter though, despite a video of the incident, prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for a trial.  

A woman holding a sign that says the future is female at the Women's March 2018 Washington DC
The #MeToo movement has called attention to widespread sexual violence faced by women in all walks of lifeImage: DW/R. Kalus

'Culture of misogyny'

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly knew of the allegations against Porter, but claimed that "every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation."

Trump's defense of Porter and Kelly's failure to further investigate the allegations prompted Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to decry the White House's "culture of misogyny."

Read more: What do Europeans consider sexual harassment?

The US National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV) said it was "disturbed" by Kelly's inaction after being made aware of the abuse.

"Domestic abuse is a very serious and violent crime. People who serve in positions of power, such as Chief of Staff Kelly, have a responsibility to be role model for this nation and should be enforcing zero tolerance for abuse rather than ignoring it," NCADV said in a statement published Friday.

"Abuse is a choice, and it is imperative that we as a society hold abuses accountable for their dangerous and criminal actions. Otherwise, victims and survivors of violence will remain unsafe, will continue to be silenced, will continue to be trapped, and all-too-often, killed by their abusers."

ls/ (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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