The sympathetic response made no mention of accusers or victims of sexual harassment or abuse, or the professional or personal harm that can come to those – usually women – who come forward.
The Saturday morning tweet follows spousal abuse allegations against two Trump aides that roiled the White House over the past week. Both men left their posts despite denying the allegations of physical and emotional abuse from ex-wives.
Trump did not mention the aides by name, but the tweet seemed to respond directly to the departure Wednesday of senior aide Rob Porter, whose two former wives had publicly detailed abuse. On Friday another aide, speechwriter David Sorensen, resigned after his former wife claimed he was violent and emotionally abusive. Sorensen said he is innocent but was leaving to avoid bringing controversy on the White House.
Trump’s message also appeared to be a response to the larger national reckoning with sexual harassment and abuse of power, which has seen victims, mostly women, come forward to accuse dozens of prominent men in business, politics, entertainment and other realms.
Trump has said almost nothing previously about the “me too” movement, which has led to a reexamination of power dynamics and expectations for men and women in the workplace. Casino mogul Steve Wynn, a prominent Republican donor and Trump friend, is among the latest powerful men to lose their jobs over such allegations. Wynn denies any harassment or abuse.
Trump has previously defended or sympathized with other men who were accused of abuse, including conservative media titan Roger Ailes and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. After Ailes was ousted as chief executive of Fox News in 2016, Trump also questioned the motives of some of Ailes’s accusers. Ailes denied the allegations.
“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them, and even recently,” Trump said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in July, 2016.
“And then they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him,” Trump said.
“It’s very sad because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person, and by the way a very very talented person.” Look what he’s done. So, I feel very badly.”
Trump said much the same about Porter in remarks to reporters Friday, in which he praised Porter’s job performance.
“We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him,” Trump said. “It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad.”
Porter, whose title was staff secretary, controlled material coming to the president and was frequently at Trump’s side.
“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” said Trump. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, but you’ll have to talk to him about that.”
Trump had a similar response to allegations that Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama had preyed on girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s.
“He totally denies it,” Trump said of Moore after The Washington Post first reported the allegations. “He says it didn’t happen.”
Despite Trump’s endorsement, Moore lost the special election to fill the Senate seat to Democratic candidate Doug Jones.
Trump himself has had to deny accusations from more than a dozen women that he has sexually abused them or behaved inappropriately.
As a candidate, Trump acknowledged that he had made lewd comments about grabbing women’s crotches after The Post reported on a recording of Trump joking about doing so. “When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump said on the 2005 recording. Trump denied making any such assaults and dismissed the recording as “locker room” talk.
His apparently inclination to sympathize with men whose professional lives may be harmed by accusations, rather than with any of the accusers, contrasts with Vice President Pence’s strongly worded reaction to the Porter allegations.
“I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter,” Pence said in an NBC interview Friday from South Korea, where he attended the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
“There is no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse,” Pence said.
“When I return to Washington, D.C., I’m going to look into the matter and I’ll share my counsel with the president directly,” Pence added.