Late to the party

E. Jean Carroll, a longtime women’s advice columnist, has accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her more than two decades ago in the dressing room of a department store. Carroll, who was 52 years old at the time of the alleged assault, makes this allegation in a book she has just published.

I have no trouble believing that Trump has improperly and forcefully touched women in the past. For one thing, he said he has (to Billy Bush). For another, more than a dozen women have accused him of this. Maybe they are all lying, but coupled with his admission, I think some of them are probably telling the truth.

But Trump, of course, has never “copped” to rape, and to my knowledge, Carroll is the first woman to accuse him of it. (His ex-wife, Ivana, walked backed such an accusation). Moreover, the timing of Carroll’s accusation renders it highly suspect.

If Trump raped Carroll, it seems almost certain that she would have said so during the 2016 campaign when women were coming forward in droves to allege that Trump assaulted them. Carroll is a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, so she had no reason, politically, not to make her claim against Trump back then. Yet, she didn’t.

Carroll says she’s only coming forward now because the #MeToo movement has inspired her. That movement is said to have commenced in 2017. However, the date is artificial, as shown by the fact that many women were saying “me too” about Trump a year earlier, during the presidential campaign.

But even if one accepts 2017 as a magical date, it is now 2019. Why did Carroll wait two years before coming forward?

The answer seems obvious. Carroll is out with a new book. It’s fair, I think, to infer that Carroll’s allegation is rooted in her desire to sell her book, not in an actual rape.

We can’t know this for sure, of course. But when we’re dealing with allegations of ancient misconduct, and certainly of ancient crimes, we have to make common sense inferences.

Suppose a woman came forward today to accuse Bret Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. I think any fair observer would dismiss the claim on the grounds that it wasn’t made last year, when the kitchen sink was being hurled at the Supreme Court nominee.

The same thinking applies, albeit a little less forcefully, to Carroll’s allegation. Coupled with the fact that she’s promoting a new book, I think it militates strongly in favor of refusing to take her rape allegation seriously.

If Carroll manages to come forward with solid evidence to support her claim of rape, only then should we entertain it. And to me, having a friend say that Carroll told her about the alleged rape soon after it supposedly occurred is not solid evidence. Enlisting a friend to bolster an accusation against someone as despised in Carroll’s circle as Trump is shouldn’t impress us.

E. Jean Carroll isn’t just late to the party, she’s late to the after-party. Until further notice, she should be viewed as a book hustler, not a credible accuser.

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