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President Trump Just Explained Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault: ‘It’s a Very Personal Thing’

September 26, 2018, 10:44 PM UTC

In a rare press conference today, President Donald Trump laid out the reasons why women don’t report sexual assaults. “It’s a very tough situation for a woman,” the president said. “It’s a very personal thing.”

His remarks came in a press conference that started with him stating all the accusations against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh are lies, and later calling developments late in the confirmation process a “con job,” adding that “I’ve used much worse language in my life than con job. That’s like probably the nicest phrase I’ve ever used.”

Trump’s commentary on the victims of sexual assault were clearly backed the accused, but he briefly appeared to empathize with women who haven’t spoken out or filed complaints against assailants.

When asked by a reporter to reconcile his early statements of how important it was for Christine Blasey Ford to have a chance to testify with more recent remarks that she or her parents should have reported the assault 36 years ago “if it were as bad as she claims,” Trump replied with a nuanced statement.

“There is a chance that her parents could have reported it 36 years ago,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they had to report it, because in some instances, people keep it quiet. It’s a very tough situation for a woman, there’s no question about it.”

Trump went on to note, despite his earlier statements, “I’m not saying they had to report it, because it’s a very personal thing.”

The president proceeded to discuss some of the more than a dozen allegations of various forms of harassment and assault lodged against himself, starting by saying he knew none of what he described as four women who had accused him, followed by that he knew them 15 to 20 years before, and finally falsely stating that four women in a series of New York Times stories had gone on television later and recanted. Trump didn’t specify which four women, but mentioned an incident on an airplane, which indicated that one of them was Jessica Leeds, cited in one of the Times stories.

Later in the event, the president noted that women are “incensed” and “angry” about Ford’s accusations. It was unclear whether he meant women were angry about Kavanaugh or on behalf of Kavanaugh. He suggested that Ford would get “her day in court,” apparently referring to testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath tomorrow along with nominee Kavanaugh.