Ever since the Washington Post reported on a discovered 2005 recording from a taping of “Access Hollywood” on which Donald Trump was recorded making lewd, inappropriate and misogynistic comments he’s had a tough go of it. Many Republicans raced to denounce Trump’s comments, dozens of whom said they no longer endorsed his nomination. The New York Times has reported that many of the big money donors to the Republican Party have urged the Republican National Committee to disavow Trump and cut ties. Public condemnation was quick and harsh. His standing in national polls plummeted. His odds of winning in November have similarly shrunk to dire levels.
And it does not end there. Former Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA contestants said Donald Trump, who at the time owned the pageants, would walk through the dressing room while they were changing. The New York Times published the accounts of two women who say Donald Trump touched them inappropriately. People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff accounted her first-hand experience of being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. These simply add to a list of women who have accused Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct in the past.
For his part Donald Trump maintains his innocence against these accusations. He also blames the media for encouraging, publishing and perpetuating these allegations, and for acting as an extension of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” the Republican nominee told a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla. “These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies. These events never happened.”
Donald Trump has also threatened to sue the New York Times over their publication. A letter from Marc E. Kasowitz from the law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP to the New York Times declares that
“Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se. It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy. That is why you apparently performed an entirely inadequate investigation to test the veracity of these false and malicious allegations, including why these two individuals waited, in one case, 11 years, and, in another case, more than three decades, before deciding to come forward with these false and defamatory statements…
We hereby demand that you immediately cease any further publication of this article, remove it from your website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology. Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies.”
It is unlikely Donald Trump would follow through on this threat because a lawsuit would open Trump up to a legal discovery process which could include Trump’s entire sexual history. This could do more harm to Trump’s reputation than any good fighting the newspaper could bring. Furthermore, it is unlikely Trump would be able to win such a lawsuit. He would have to be able to prove in a court of law that the New York Times published the accounts of the two women with malicious and libelous intent, as described in the letter. In essence, the New York Times would have had to publish the accounts knowing they were untrue with the sole purpose of harming Donald Trump’s electoral chances in order for Trump to win. And it seems like the New York Times understands Trump’s tenuous legal position.
In response to the letter from Donald Trump’s lawyer, the New York Times’ general counsel sent his own letter:
“Dear. Mr. Kasowitz:
I write in response to your letter of October 12, 2016 to Dean Baquet concerning your client Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. You write concerning our article “Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately” and label the article as “libel per se.” You ask that we “remove it from [our] website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.” We decline to do so.“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.
“But there is a larger and much more important point here. The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance — indeed, an issue that Mr. Trump himself discussed with the whole nation watching during Sunday night’s presidential debate. Our reporters diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts. They provided readers with Mr. Trump’s response, including his forceful denial of the women’s reports. It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices. We did what the law allows: We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.
Donald Trump is friendly with the media when they agree with and don’t challenge him or when he can use them to his advantage. If not, he bans them from officially covering his campaign. And accuses them of politicizing their coverage of him.
The New York Times just called him on those accusations.