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The remarkable irresponsibility of Donald Trump's Stormy Daniels tweet

On Wednesday morning,...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 10:58 AM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 10:58 AM

On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump sent a tweet raising questions about the sketch of a man who allegedly harassed a porn star to keep her from talking about a sexual encounter with the current President of the United States aka Donald Trump.

Whew.

Go back and read that sentence again. Maybe read it twice more.

It's yet another example of Trump's willingness to bust through not only what's considered normal and appropriate behavior for a president but also what's considered normal and appropriate behavior for anyone.

In response to a tweet from a Twitter handle known as "DeplorablyScottish" which showed side-by-side images of the sketch Stormy Daniels produced of her alleged harasser and a picture of Daniels and a man who is purportedly her ex-boyfriend, Trump tweeted this: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

So.

The President of the United States is alleging that Daniels -- who has said she and Trump were intimate in the mid 2000s -- is making up her story that she was approached by a man in 2011 who threatened her and her young daughter if she continued to talk about her time with Trump.

Here's the thing: There's no doubt that Daniels' unveiling of the sketch, which she and her ever-present lawyer Michael Avenatti did in an appearance on "The View" Tuesday afternoon, was a a publicity stunt.

This is a sketch based on a 2011 encounter. While Avenatti told CNN's Jake Tapper that he has a sense of who the man is -- and that the person may be "indirectly" tied to Trump -- it seems unlikely that this sketch is what proves or disproves Daniels' broader allegations.

That said! How could Trump possibly know whether or not a man harassed Daniels in 2011? Was he in the parking lot in which the alleged incident happened? If not, there is no possible way he could possess factual proof that Daniels is making up this story.

Given that he lacks that proof, Trump on Twitter is simply using his massive bullhorn -- 51 million people strong -- to suggest that a woman is making up a story about being harassed. Which is remarkable.

Of course, for Trump, anything and everything related to Daniels is tied up in her allegation that the two had sex in the mid 2000s -- a charge he has denied. (Worth noting: Trump attorney/fixer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her from telling the story of her alleged affair with Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign.)

But, that context shouldn't excuse what Trump is doing here. He is using his massive social media platform to discredit a woman alleging she was harassed. He is doing so entirely without proof that her allegation is false. (If Trump has proof Daniels is lying, he should come forward with it immediately.)

That's the sort of behavior that in the past we would have condemned out of hand. Now, and with the President of the United States doing it, people accept it as a matter of course. They -- and we -- shouldn't.

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