Yes, Donald Trump Wants You To Know He Thinks You’re Too Stupid to Live


No, it’s not really worth parsing every detail of the multiple, apparently credible, charges of illegal sexual conduct by Donald Trump, made by a variety of women and covering a variety of incidents, all consistent with the behavior he bragged of on tape to Billy Bush. But his reaction – and especially today’s release of what the campaign said would be exonerating evidence – repays inspection.

Trump on the stump has now lurched into fantasy-land, arguing that the charges are a result of a vast conspiracy encompassing not only the Clinton campaign but all of the mass media, in the service of “international bankers” with whom Clinton is plotting to betray American sovereignty. It’s full-on Father Coughlin/Elders of Zion material, apparently courtesy of Steve Bannon. Today the plot enlarged to include Carlos Slim, the Mexican telephone multi-billionaire and part-owner of the New York Times.

But apparently lunatic raving alone, along with the campaign’s mechanical denials of each new charge as it comes in, its media servants’ suggestion that we should “question the timing,” empty threats of lawsuits, and of course Trump’s follow-up that his accusers weren’t hot enough to rate being groped by him,  weren’t doing the job, so this morning Mike Pence, after asserting that he believed his running mate without offering any argument for that belief, promised that the campaign would release evidence “frankly, within a matter of hours” to disprove the charges. Trump made the same promise later in the day.

When that alleged evidence appeared – in the Murdoch-owned New York Post, doubtless for lack of any even slightly respectable outlet willing to go with it– it didn’t pass the giggle test.

The “evidence” concerned the charge of Jessica Leeds that Trump had groped her – putting his hand up her skirt –  on a flight from Dallas to New York in 1980. Trump has denied even knowing her. The Trump campaign put forward an Englishman named Anthony Gilberthorpe, now 54, to say that he was on the same flight, sitting nearby, saw the whole transaction, remembers it with “photographic memory,” and observed Leeds flirting with Trump rather than Trump assaulting Leeds. Pretty convincing, right?

Yes, but.

  • If Gilberthorpe is now 54, he must have been 18 in 1980. I suppose it’s possible that an English eighteen-year-old was flying first class from Dallas to New York, but it’s not especially plausible, and he doesn’t seem to have provided any explanation.
  • Trump flatly denied that he’d ever met Leeds. So if Gilberthorpe is telling the truth, Trump isn’t. He also contradicts the narrative of Trump surrogates that the incident couldn’t have happened because Trump is and always has been too precious to fly commercial.
  • Gilberthorpe appears to be quite a piece of work, without much respect for the truth. (a) He has claimed, among other things, to have pimped underage male sex workers to prominent Tory politicians, with the knowledge of Margaret Thatcher (!). (b) He won a defamation suit and then had the verdict reversed on evidence that testimony on his behalf had been faked by a friend who was then a Member of Parliament. (c) He then turned on the friendly perjurer and ruined his life by setting him up to be videotaped in bed with a young call girl. (d) One of the issues in the libel suit was Gilberthorpe’s sexual orientation. In order to convince the world that he was straight, he arranged for the publication of an engagement notice about himself and Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. However, it later emerged that he had invented not only the engagement, but Miss Bergdorf-Hunt herself. No such person ever existed.

So that’s the witness who is supposed to convince everyone that Jessica Leeds chose to expose herself and her family to the sort of abuse the Trump campaign and its Alt-Right buddies are so skilled at meting out, by making a completely false allegation. As I said, this doesn’t pass the giggle test, especially for anyone who has watched the video of Leeds with Anderson Cooper.

And that seems to me more significant than the underlying story, which, after all, is merely additive to several other such stories. The greater point is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence and everyone working for the Trump campaign has total contempt, not merely for the truth, but for the intelligence of the people it’s trying to fool and the professional skill and seriousness of the reporters he needs to help fool them. An organization that refuses to acknowledge any limits to what it can get away from has the makings of a totalitarian cult.

Footnote For my money, the most explosive substantive charge – both because the same incident is vouched for by five women, and because the victims were minors at the time, obviating any question of consent and vastly increasing the potential criminal liability had the statute of limitations not run – involves his walking in on the dressing room of the contestants at the Miss Teen USA pageant in 1997, gazing his fill at girls as young as fourteen as they were naked or half-naked, and cheerfully telling them not to worry because he’d “seen it all already.”  (Again, Trump is on tape with Howard Stern boasting of such behavior at the beauty pageants he owned, though not specifically with minors.) When one of them complained to the then-seventeen-year-old Ivanka, who was hosting the pageant, Ivanka reportedly said “Yes, he does that.” If that happened – and there seems to be no reason to doubt it – it was and is covered by statutes on Child Sexual Abuse, which carry draconian penalties; after all, if he’d merely looked at photos of undressed fourteen-year-olds on his computer he would have faced hard Federal time under the kiddie-porn statutes. Even Trumpites would have a hard time swallowing that, if it were being brought to their attention, but instead the media focus has been on the drumroll of adult accusers.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “Yes, Donald Trump Wants You To Know He Thinks You’re Too Stupid to Live”

  1. Carlos Slim's parents were Lebanese, and that puts ISIS right at the center of the great conspiracy, right? You read it here first.

  2. You keep using words like "evidence" and "substantive". These kinds of concepts are the wrong frame. You would not apply them to the study of classic literature. What we are dealing with here is a form of performance art.

  3. In order to try and understand what is going on in the mind of Republicans, I try to imagine some equally vile character on the left, for whom I must vote to preserve certain policies and Supreme court nominations. But so many of Trump's character flaws are directly linked to his policy claims (however unspecified), that I find it hard to imagine a Democrat being such a prick with the policy agenda to match. The liberal agenda has always appealed to me because it is about being concerned and compassionate towards others – of empathizing and trying to imagine what struggles they might have that are hard for me to understand. That seems the exact opposite of the conservative worldview, which Trump's character seems to, if not epitomize, then at least take to an absurd conclusion – absolute narcissism and concern for no one but himself, unwillingness to understand others, allergy to self-reflection and forethought – to be "PC" in an attempt to acknowledge one's bias and to be respectful of the feelings of others.

    What Trump's candidacy seems to have shown to me is that what he says and how he acts in public – not in private – is actually the sort of "locker room" talk of average Republicans: keeping out Mexicans, Muslims, bloviation, sadism (torture), etc. And that this was his appeal from the start – that he wasn't afraid to say in public what they say in private (and of course on comment threads across the internet).

    1. when it became fairly clear that trump would be the nominee i knew that i would need someone to point to as a democratic candidate i could not possibly vote for with a clear conscience. in the end, i use rob blagojevich running from his prison cell and making blatant deals exchanging appointments to executive department secretaries and undersecretaries as well as major embassies for campaign contributions and endorsements. there is no way in hell i would vote for him. i'd probably be working to get alyson kennedy on the ballot in texas if the democrats had nominated rob.

      1. Lyndon LaRouche used to run candidates from his cult as Democrats. If LaRouche through some catastrophe managed to secure the Democratic Presidential nomination, I think I would actually vote for Donald Trump over him. Certainly I would prefer any normal Republican.

    2. Anthony Weiner and Alan Greyson are the closest I can think of among nationally recognized Democrats.

  4. I was on that flight too. I recognized Gilberthorpe from a photo in England's "Who's Who" for high schoolers, as I was in Who's Who, too. (We did the secret handshake.) So a woman sits down near us and starts making kissing sounds and looking lascivious. "Dallas girls don't do that" was my first thought – what a bunch of stuck-up prudes! Girls who think they're so bleeding hot, when really, who would have them? I only asked them out because I felt sorry for them. Okay, go ahead and run off with that jock! See if I care! I hope you like talking about tight ends and draw plays because that's all the dope knows.

    But I digress. So anyway, me and Gilby look at each other to confirm that we're seeing what we're seeing. Gilby said he knew all about chicks (which he called "birds") from dating a "Sloane Ranger" named Diana Spencer. Familiar name? Yeah, I thought so. So we're optimizing our scoring strategy – and man, she was almost in the boat! – when who swaggers in but Donald Trump Himself. I recognized him from write-ups in the New York Times about his legal difficulties (totally Trumped up, by the way) from allegedly refusing to rent to black people. The nerve! There's all kinds of places they could rent, where they'd be much more comfortable and would fit in better, but no, they have to be in a Trump building. I bet they'd be in there a week or two at most before they were complaining about the heat or the air-conditioning or whatever. Give 'em an inch and, well, you know the rest.

    Another digression, sorry, but here's the good part. Gilby and I sat back to see how the Master handled things. He played it cool, just like you knew a smooth operator would. Took a swig of Binaca, when he knew she was looking at him, and sure enough, she got the message. Bam! She's on him like ugly on all those losers who falsely claim Trump went after them. She ripped the fixed armrest right off! I saw it! And she was putting his hands everywhere and loving every minute of it. He had this great line – "Baby, you'll be so satisfied you'll get tired of being satisfied. You'll say 'Mr. Trump, stop satisfying me! I've had enough!'" And you know what? That's exactly what she said (or almost exactly, I have a photographic memory, but I was taking other photos at the time, if you know what I mean, and I bet you do).

    So, Mr. Kleiman, if that is your name, you are on notice that you have defamed and slandered Anthony Gilberthorpe, and I have the proof. Retract this libel, or I will be on Anderson Cooper telling the world the true facts, which I am totally entitled to, despite your elitist, globalist, rootless masthead. (When I say "on Anderson Cooper" I mean his show, not him. I'm as straight as Jerry Falwell, Jr., and I only subscribe to Playgirl for the articles. Everyone who knows me thinks I'm butch as all get out because I am. No gay guy could have a beard like Falwell's. But there I go digressing again.)

  5. What was Ivanka Trump talking about when she reportedly said "Yes, he does that?" As far as I can make out, the 1997 contest was the first under Trump's ownership. So Ivanka could not be referring to Trump's behaviour in previous years, since she wasn't there. There is one teenage girl he did of course have previous access to – Ivanka herself.

    This repulsive theory is consistent with the famous photo of Ivanka with her father as beau. I'm sorry if this comment makes you lose your lunch.

  6. I am not sure where to place this question but something else about this campaign has struck me as rather odd. I was at Costco today and saw their book display. I saw stacks of Ann Coulter's "In Trump We Trust" and stacks of Dinesh D'Sousa's "Hillary's America." Also stacks of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine's "Stronger Together." I looked for stacks of any of Donald Trump's books but saw nothing.

    Usually presidential candidates print mountains of copies of at least one book during the course of their campaigns. I have not seen "The Art of the Deal' or any other book with Trump's name on it at any big box store this year.

    Is this the curious incident of the dog in the night? Is this a significant absence of something expected to be present?

    Anyone got an insight?

  7. To make a more serious comment about defamation, that's what Trump et al. are doing when they label his accusers as liars. And these are private individuals being called liars, so the standard is negligence. Trump himself is lying, and his campaign and surrogates didn't do even cursory investigation before they began defaming the accusers – sounds pretty negligent to me. Someone needs to bring the case.

Comments are closed.