According to a new profile in the New York Times, Donald Trump is mad at Amanda Knox. You read that right. The American woman who was convicted, then subsequently acquitted, of murder charges in Italy is apparently a sensitive topic for the Trump. It's not that he thinks Knox should be in prison — Trump insisted repeatedly years ago that Knox is innocent. Rather, the president is angry that Knox endorsed Hillary Clinton instead of him during the presidential campaign. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.
This insight is buried in a Times profile of George Lombardi, a longtime friend and neighbor of Trump. Lombardi, an Italian businessman, has reportedly acted as an envoy between Trump and far-right nationalists in Europe, and most of the piece focuses on his political machinations. However, Lombardi also told the Times that Trump reportedly took a deep interest in the Knox murder trials, which unfolded over the course of several years and made international headlines.
Knox was accused of murdering her former roommate during a study abroad semester in Italy, but steadfastly proclaimed her innocence and — after a lot of legal back and forth — was ultimately acquitted by Italy's high court. According to Lombardi, Trump was very invested in proving Knox's innocence during the series of trials, and reportedly asked Lombardi to "look into her case" during a visit to Italy. And indeed, Trump tweeted in Knox's defense twice in 2011, at one point proclaiming that "everyone should boycott Italy" unless Knox was freed.
Everyone should boycott Italy if Amanda Knox is not freed---she is totally innocent.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2011
Knox ultimately was freed. But according to Lombardi, Trump was allegedly upset that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Knox didn't reward his defense of her with an endorsement. Instead, Knox wrote an op-ed at the West Seattle Herald proclaiming her support for Clinton and branding Trump a "destabilizing agent." While acknowledging Clinton's shortcomings, Knox ultimately said she found herself inspired by Clinton's vocal support for reproductive rights and repelled by Trump's opposition to abortion access.
"In Trump’s world, there’s only black-and-white idealism, and the sinister innuendo that anyone can and will get an abortion at any time by any means for any reason — which is simply not true," Knox wrote.
By Lombardi's account, Trump was none too pleased; he had expected Knox to support his presidential run, because he had stood by her in her murder trials, and is allegedly still "very upset" with her for not doing so.
This alleged little episode reveals once again that Trump's political worldview is almost entirely transactional, with policy considerations taking a backseat. Trump expected Knox to endorse him not because he thought she would approve of his policies, but because he had — in his mind — done something to help her in the past. Trump reportedly wanted Knox to ignore his anti-woman policies and support him out of loyalty, according to the Times. But for many people, it simply isn't an option to disregard policy.
"Watching the third presidential debate, it was like Donald Trump had taken health class with me, and never looked further into the matter," Knox said after recounting the staunch anti-abortion education she'd received in religious school. "He didn’t have to. It’s not the same for women. As soon as we become sexually active, the stakes are real and life-altering. Ignorance about our reproductive health is not an option."
Knox was not going to simply ignore these concerns — concerns that could directly affect her own health and wellbeing — in order to reward Trump for defending her on an unrelated matter. Trump either doesn't understand this, or doesn't care. Neither option makes him look very empathetic.