The Mango Mussolini must have thought #Me Too was a gentleman's club. Scratch the surface of his White House and that much is pretty clear.
It’s no secret that Trump respects men who keep women in their place: “You have to treat ’em like shit.” Perhaps that’s why top White House staffer Rob Porter got a hero’s goodbye this week, even as a picture of his ex-wife’s battered face was splashed across the news.
Porter, accused of assaulting both of his ex-wives and a former girlfriend, gave his resignation but “was not pressured to do so”, according to press secretary Sarah Sanders. In fact, Sanders lauded Porter as having the full confidence of the president and Gen John Kelly, and took the time to read Porter’s statement, in which he called the accusations “vile” and a “smear campaign”.
This came less than a day after Kelly called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor” in response to the allegations. So much for women being “sacred”. As it turns out, the White House knew for quite some time about Porter’s history of domestic violence – he couldn’t get security clearance because of it – but continued to rally behind him. In fact, Kelly promoted Porter soon after finding out about the abuse.
The only reason Porter left at all was because the picture of his ex’s bruised face surfaced. Given that Trump has been shopping around the theory that the Access Hollywood tape of him bragging about grabbing women’s genitals isn’t really him,I almost expected the White House to call the picture “fake news”.
Porter did find the time, however, to insist he was the one that took the picture – as if that somehow excuses him from punching his wife in the face. (For a history of how the Polaroid changed how we treat domestic violence, watch this incredible Ted Talk.)
But wait, there's so much more:
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, was accused of sexual assault in 2017 and was charged with battery in 2016 after forcibly grabbing a female reporter. And Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name for consideration after domestic violence accusations surfaced – his ex-wife told her story dressed in disguise on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1990.
At this point perhaps it’s easier if we just sort out which of the president’s men hasn’t been accused of beating women.
Even then, it’s not great. Trump endorsed accused child molester Roy Moore for Senate, and is longtime friends with former RNC finance chair Steve Wynn – accused of harassment and sexual assault by dozens of women. And, of course, there’s Trump himself; the president has been accused many times over of offenses ranging from groping to a gruesome account of rape from his ex-wife, Ivana.
This is an administration overflowing with men who hurt women. Even so, we can’t become jaded as to how incredibly remarkable this all is. The White House, knowing that Porter abused multiple women, called him a man of integrity. They looked at a picture of his battered wife and defended him, still. He left the administration not in shame or disgrace, but honored.
“You have to treat ’em like shit” is no longer an embarrassing old Trump quote. It’s a mandate.