Through most of his life, anyone who stands up to Donald Trump does so at their peril. Whether the person is an ex-wife or a victim of Trump’s so-called “university,” the Republican nominee uses lawsuits and the press to intimidate his detractors into silence. However, that threat ended when top lawyers promised to represent pro bono the latest victims of Trump’s libel bullying.
Trump’s arsenal of intimidation wasn’t restricted to lawsuits and using the media to libel his critics. As Frances Stead Sellers wrote earlier this year:
He deploys an array of tactics to fight back — countersuits, threats, and personal insults, among others — while using stringent confidentiality agreements to guard against insider accounts from employees, business partners, his former spouses and now his campaign staffers.
In 1999, Trump threatened to drag Marla Maples’ name through the mud and withhold alimony payments if she exposed facts that would damage his attempted bid for the presidency.
Tarla Makaeff is no stranger to Trump’s methods of silencing his detractors. Shortly after she filed a fraud suit against Trump “University” in 2010, Trump filed a “potentially ruinous” defamation suit.
Earlier this year, Trump attacked Makaeff who was a plaintiff in another suit against Trump University during one of his campaign rallies. She requested and obtained removal as a plaintiff in that case.
Trump even used his tried and true arsenal of intimidation to silence the America Bar Association
Alarmed by Donald J. Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.
But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.”
Given Trump’s history, few would be surprised that he would deploy his arsenal of intimidation against the ever-growing list of women who corroborated the acts of sexual assault Trump bragged about in the Access Hollywood video tape.
This time, however, Trump isn’t merely the crass billionaire bullying his critics into silence. This time, Trump is a presidential candidate who announced his intention to bully his accusers into silence. This time, the threat of a lawsuit won’t work.
Attorneys who specialize in first amendment cases have offered to represent Trump’s alleged victims for free should he make good on his threat to sue them.
— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) October 22, 2016
Last night, Tribe restated the lawyers’ offer to represent Trump’s victims free of charge, (and the American Bar Association) during an appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
Finally, Trump’s threats and bullying tactics are coming at his peril instead of his victims and critics.
While standing up to Trump his alleged victims and the lawyers who offered to represent them are condemning the Republican belief that survivors of sex crimes who dare to stand up for their rights and their personal dignity are lying in the name of getting money or 10 minutes of fame.
That’s right. While Trump is the face of using the courts to intimidate his victims into silence, he is reflecting a widely accepted attitude within the Republican Party.
Michael Tesler of The Washington Post wrote about a poll that shows most Republicans and most Trump supporters “already doubted women’s claims of sexual harassment” before Trump bragged about his “ability” to get away with it in the Access Hollywood tape.
Along with partisanship, there’s another factor that could minimize the impact of sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump: Republicans in general, and Trump’s primary voters in particular, were already more skeptical of women who accuse men of sexual harassment.
In 2012, 49% of Republicans believed that women who complain about sexual harassment do not cause more problems than they solve. Compare that to the 73% of Democrats who share that view.
In 2016, the majority of Republicans continue to believe that women who complain about sexual harassment cause more problems than they solve.
So when Trump calls the women who corroborate the statements he made in his “boy talk” confession “liars,” he is very much a Republican.