The Trump Administration’s position on the many, many sexual assault allegations leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh hasn’t been particularly sensitive to victims of trauma, but the president brought that to a shocking new low during a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.
During the rally, Trump openly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to step forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Dr. Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than three hours last week, claims that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge pinned her down on a bed and attempted to strip off her clothes at a house party in the early 1980s, when they were all teenagers.
Trump’s attack attempts to center in on Dr. Ford’s limited memory of certain details regarding her assault, mocking her for responding “I don’t remember” to several of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s answers. Even aside from the fact that Ford answered exponentially more questions than Kavanaugh (who frequently dodged), experts note that sexual assault survivors frequently struggle to retain complete memories of their attacks for a variety of reasons.
Not only does memory fade with time, but when the brain’s defense circuitry is activated, the prefrontal cortex, which normally directs attention, can be rapidly impaired, affecting what information is recorded in memory, said James Hopper, a psychologist and teaching associate at Harvard Medical School. So the victim may remember a wallpaper pattern or a heightened sensation, but not the order of events. Even when the brain vividly records traumatic events, he said, it can sustain “super-encoding mode” for only a limited time before that function also becomes impaired.
None of this, however, matters to Trump, nor to his supporters, who clapped and cheered him on throughout the mocking.
Here’s the footage, per MSNBC: