A short video titled, “16 Women and Trump,” has been released by production company Brave New Films, featuring the eponymous 16 women making allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump. It is not a flattering piece to say the least and you’ll never guess who is behind it. Well, perhaps you can.
Three of the women spoke in a press conference yesterday, calling for a congressional investigation of the president’s conduct, although a number of prominent Democrats have gone further, publicly stating that Trump should be “fired” over the accusations.
The announcement of Democrat Senator Al Franken’s “stepping down” has shown that it’s possible to pressure someone to leave office before an investigation has begun, much less completed, and Trump’s opponents are hoping to make him next in line. While Franken made the choice to quit, he continues to deny any wrongdoing, saying that, “some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” and that his resignation shouldn’t be seen as an admission of guilt. Yet, it’s difficult to see the move in any other way. If Franken and potentially the President are pressured into leaving office before being given their due process, we could be looking at a slippery slope where the checks and balances of a carefully engineered justice system become secondary to public opinion and political pressure.
The video shows 16 women describing alleged incidents of sexual assault committed against them by the president, all which date back to the years and decades before he was voted into office. Three of the accusers, Samantha Holvey, Jessica Leeds, and Rachel Crooks, came forward in a press conference yesterday to, “ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump’s history of sexual misconduct.”
“Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t rare in our society and people from all backgrounds can be victims. The only reason I am here today is because this offender is now the president of our country,” said Crooks, who claims that Trump attempted to kiss her in 2005. She cited the recent #metoo campaign and asked America to, “hold Mr. Trump to the same standards as Harvey Weinstein and the other men who were held accountable for their reprehensible behavior.”
The issue of Donald Trump’s sexual conduct was first brought up during the 2016 campaign, with several accusers coming forward, plus the now infamous “grab them by the pussy,” video. Since then, sexual misconduct has become a huge international issue, though it is rather curious that the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which had been allegedly suppressed by the New York Times since 2004, was finally allowed to make the presses when it suited the notoriously anti-Trump publication’s political agenda.
BRAVE NEW FILMS AND ITS DONORS
Brave New Films is a non-profit documentary film company run by filmmaker and Huffington Post blogger Robert Greenwald. According to their website, the company’s, “mission is to champion social justice issues by using a model of media, education, and grassroots volunteer involvement that inspires, empowers, motivates and teaches civic participation and makes a difference.”
While Brave New Films purports to be a “non-partisan” charity organization, they appear to rely heavily on donor funding. The site lists a series of contributors known to support anti-Trump activism, such as The Centre for Popular Democracy, Media Matters for America and George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Soros himself donated $25 million to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and related causes, and since Trump’s election victory has poured $18 billion into his foundation in order to “push back” the “dark forces that have been awakened,” by the election results, as he put it to the New York Times last November.
A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT
While Trump may or may not be a serial sleaze and an investigation may be justified, no concrete evidence has been presented thus far. It’s also unlikely that any evidence, other than the testimony of his accusers, will come to light so long after the fact. The case against Franken at least has an incriminating photograph and the last president accused of sexual impropriety was at least given the chance to defend himself until Monica Lewinsky brought forward the “blue dress,” a piece of solid evidence that definitively proved Bill Clinton’s guilt and lead to his impeachment for perjury.
Democrat Senator Kirstin Gillibrand told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Trump should resign over the accusations. Should he fail to “resign immediately,” she advocated that Congress “should have appropriate investigations of his behavior and hold him accountable.” There is a significant difference, however, between calling for an investigation and calling for the President, or any other citizen, to resign over mere allegations. A series of other commentators and politicians have since called for the President’s resignation, including Democratic senator Cory Booker:
“I just watched Sen. Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken.”
While Republicans may have been celebrating the resignation announcement of Al Franken, and many may rejoice should the President resign, to do so is a risky business. Neither man has been charged, nor convicted of a crime and every resignation that comes from public pressure rather than due process puts our ideals of due process at risk.
The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is a cultural concept as well as a legal principle. If a senator and even the President can be brought down by a trial of public opinion, then what hope do us “ordinary” citizens have? Regardless of political affiliation, we should all seek to ensure that due process is observed, lest we ourselves become the next victim of public opinion.