The president of the United States delivered a vitriolic speech on Friday with the goal of supporting an accused child molester for U.S. Senate. In doing so, Donald Trump attacked one of candidate Roy Moore’s accusers, Beverly Young Nelson.
It is a pattern for the president to lash out at those who accuse him or others in his circle of wrongdoing. But Friday’s speech in Pensacola, FL—which is just across the border from Alabama—shows Trump’s particular affinity for attacking women who accuse powerful men of sexual misconduct, including the president himself.
“So did you see what happened today, you know, the yearbook? Did you see that?” Trump asked, referring to a new line of attack against Nelson and other accusers being promoted by Fox News and Moore’s supporters. “There was a little mistake made, she started writing things in the yearbook. Ah, what are we gonna do. Gloria Allred, anytime you see her, you know something’s going wrong.”
Allred is Nelson’s attorney and also represents a former contestant on The Apprentice who is suing the president for allegedly sexually assaulting her in 2007 and then defaming her. The latest effort to attack and discredit Nelson involves notes she had written in a high school yearbook under Moore’s signature. Nelson and Allred have offered the yearbook as proof that the former judge, now 70, had taken a sexual interest in her when he was in his 30s and she was a teenager in high school.
But Trump supporters and the president’s propaganda machine, Fox News, have seized on those notes to accuse Nelson of forging Moore’s signature in her yearbook. On Friday, as Salon notes, Fox published a story with a monstrously misleading headline accusing Nelson of forgery. The headline was quickly changed, and a tweet promoting the story was later deleted.
Nelson defended her claims on ABC News on Friday and repeated that Moore had signed her yearbook and then sexually assaulted her later in his car, when she was 16.
Here’s how the Los Angeles Times describes the allegation:
A week or two after he signed the yearbook, Nelson alleges, Moore offered her a ride home and she accepted. But instead of driving her there, she says, he parked the car behind the restaurant, groped her breasts, tried to shove her face into his crotch and bruised her neck before she stopped him.
Nevertheless, the forgery allegations created by right–wing social media users and Fox News gave Trump a line of attack to discredit Nelson and Allred, and by default, other Moore accusers. Moore also tweeted attacks on Nelson, accusing her of lying.
The problem, however, is that even putting aside Nelson’s allegations, other women have come forward with credible allegations against Moore accusing him of sexual misconduct. One victim says she was 14 when Moore sexually assaulted her.
But none of that matters to the president of the United States. “Get out and vote for Roy Moore,” Trump shouted on Friday.