Well, there's no way to ease into this slowly, so I'm just going to ask the question that's terrifying me in this moment: Will Donald Trump sue the women accusing him of sexual assault? He has denied all allegations of sexual assault and improper conduct, and then he threatened to sue his accusers for defamation. While I wish I had a way to prepare you for the discomfort of that being a thing we even have to talk about, I can't, so hold my hand and we'll get through this together.
In the weeks and months before the election, a rising tide of women began coming forward, claiming that Trump had allegedly sexually assaulted them. It's impossible to know if we've reached the end yet, but as of the day after the election, more than 10 women have spoken up after the Trump tapes leaked, airing allegations reflecting a wide and troubling range of abuse. Trump has denied each of them.
There was the People writer, Natasha Stoynoff, who alleged that Trump pushed her up against the wall of her hotel room and forced his tongue down her throat; the Miss USA pageant contestant Cassandra Searles, who claimed that Trump groped her and invited her to his hotel room; an unnamed woman whose allegations that Trump raped her at a party when she was just 13 years old are currently working their way through federal court — Trump has called that claim "false" and "disgusting"— as well as multiple other women, who have claimed inappropriate touching, unwanted attention, and other forms of harassment. Lesser claims have derailed less important campaigns, especially when their subjects are caught on camera bragging about similar behaviors. But Trump was insistent that he was not only innocent, but he was a victim himself. In April, he spoke to Radar Online about the alleged rape case, stating:
The allegations are not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated. There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. Period.
But Trump took his denials even further at a rally in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in October, going on the offense and issuing a threat to the women who he claims are attempting to defame him unjustly:
Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
So, will he really sue them? With an average politician, I might have some idea of the direction that this would go, but when it comes to Trump, he's so unpredictable that it's impossible to speak with any authority about what he will or won't do. One thing I can say is that CNN pointed out that Trump frequently threatens lawsuits without following up.
For example, he said he would sue The New York Times for writing about the allegations, yet didn't actually do so. Then again, the president-elect has been involved in literally thousands of lawsuits in his life up until now — USA Today claims over 4,000 in just 30 years. This means that Trump has had a lot of experience and varying degrees of success in using the law in nontraditional ways. Now that he's achieved the presidency, he might leave the lawsuit as an empty threat because he got what he wanted, or maybe he believes the cases to be something he can't win. Or he might use his newfound power and stature to intimidate the women bringing forward allegations into dropping their suits.
It's impossible to know what he will do. Not to mention, it's stressful to speculate, so please practice self-care as we go into the early days of this new world. I promise that I have your back.