On Monday (February 24), a Manhattan jury found former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein guilty of raping one woman in 2013 and committing a criminal sexual act on another in 2006. He stands to be sentenced to anywhere from 5 to 29 years in jail and is set to stand trial in Los Angeles for a different series of allegations that also date back to 2013. But in the meantime, President Donald Trump believes the New York verdict sends "a very, very strong message." About what, exactly? He didn't elaborate.
As the New York Times reported, Trump took a press conference in New Delhi, India, on Monday, for an opulent state visit that coincided with another wave of civilian violence. Yet in between praising his "really great relationship" with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he was also asked by reporters about the Weinstein verdict.
Yet instead of saying whether or not he believed "justice was served," as one reporter asked him, Trump made it clear that he was "never a fan of Harvey Weinstein,” and added that the newly convicted Weinstein "said he was going to work hard to defeat me in the election. How did that work out by the way? I’m trying to figure that out. He was a person I didn’t like. I don’t know too much about the case because, you know, between traveling and being at meetings almost every hour of the day, every minute of the day, I haven’t really been able to see too much of it. But I was just not a fan of his."
Trump also criticized Democrats for embracing Weinstein in the years prior to the 2017 exposés that led to his reckoning, particularly citing how the former producer "gave a lot of money to the Democrats, and you know, it’s too bad, but that’s the way it worked out." Shortly after the New York Times and the New Yorker published their concurrent investigations into Weinstein, many congressional Democrats pledged to give that money to various charities that directly impacted survivors of sexual assault.
Yet it was when NBC's Peter Alexander asked Trump, "What message can you, as president, deliver to women in America who are still afraid to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment and assault?" that the press conference came closest to addressing the unsaid: That the sitting president himself has been accused of sexual harassment, misconduct, and even rape by dozens of women. (Trump has denied all allegations; he also rebutted that the columnist E. Jean Carroll, who is suing him for defamation, was "not my type.")
Trump told Alexander, "Again I don’t know the actual results. I haven’t seen too much because I’ve been in India, as you know. [...] But I think that from the standpoint of women, I think it was a great thing. It was a — it was a great victory and sends a very strong message. Very, very strong message."
According to RAINN, 433,648 Americans are sexually assaulted each year, and their perpetrators are rarely convicted for that violence. After the Weinstein verdict came down, Me Too founder Tarana Burke released a statement reminding people that "sexual violence thrives on unchecked power and privilege. The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world."
It’s on all of us to stand up against sexual assault. Find out more at metoo.mtv.com. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or visit rainn.org.