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Why the latest assault allegation against Trump hasn’t gotten more attention

Recently, another woman stepped forward to credibly accuse President Trump of a forcible, violent sexual assault -- one that meets the legal definition of rape. Why hasn’t there been any political fallout, or even much discussion of the allegations made by E. Jean Carroll? William Brangham talks to The Guardian’s Lucia Graves about the new accusation and the broader trend of which it’s a part.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last week, another woman stepped forward to accuse President Trump of a forcible, violent sexual assault, one that meets the legal definition of rape. It allegedly happened during the 1990s.

    But, as William Brangham reports, this latest startling allegation has gotten limited attention.

  • William Brangham:

    On Friday, longtime writer and columnist E. Jean Carroll accused President Trump of attacking her back in the late 1990s, describing a rape she alleges occurred in a New York department store.

    Carroll's allegation is detailed in her upcoming book, and was excerpted in "New York Magazine."

    She describes a violent encounter with the then real estate mogul inside the store's dressing room.

  • E. Jean Caroll:

    He pulled down my tights. And it was a fight.

    It was — I want women to know that I did not stand there. I did not freeze. I wasn't paralyzed, which is a reaction that I could have had, because it's so shocking. No, I fought. And it was over very quickly. It was against my will, 100 percent.

  • William Brangham:

    Carroll confided in two friends soon after the event, and both have recently corroborated her account to multiple news organizations.

    President Trump, however, has repeatedly denied the accusation.

  • President Donald Trump:

    What she did is, it's terrible, what's going on. So, it's a total false accusation. And I don't know anything about her.

  • William Brangham:

    And to The Hill newspaper, he said of Carroll: "She's just not my type."

    The statute of limitations for rape has passed, going by Carroll's timeline, which means the president cannot be charged.

    E. Jean Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to credibly accuse President Trump of some form of physical sexual misconduct or assault, and the second woman to credibly accuse him of what the law would consider rape.

    The president has denied each and every one of these accusations.

    Lucia Graves writes for The Guardian, and she detailed the story of one of the president's earlier accusers. And she's spoken with many more of them in the course of her reporting.

    Welcome to the "NewsHour."

  • Lucia Graves:

    Thanks for having me.

  • William Brangham:

    So, Ms. Carroll's allegation, as vivid and graphic as it is, tracks with what the president said he does in that notorious "Access Hollywood" tape, where he says he grabs women by the genitals without hesitation.

    It also dovetails with what many women have said the president has attempted or done to them in the past.

    I mean, there is — a pattern has emerged.

  • Lucia Graves:

    Yes, it actually tracks almost exactly with the story that Jill Harth, his former business associate, told to me in…

  • William Brangham:

    This is the woman you reported on.

  • Lucia Graves:

    … July of 2016. Yes, she was the first accuser to come forward with a story of sexual assault against the president, although she also filed it in a lawsuit in the '90s.

    All of the details that are in the account and the sort of thing that he described doing on tape, as published in The Washington Post, are almost remarkably consistent.

  • William Brangham:

    When Carroll's account came out on Friday, The New York Times didn't put it on the front page. They put it in their book review section, the same with The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal.

    Why do you think that this accusation didn't get more attention?

  • Lucia Graves:

    So, that did surprise me, even though I felt, when my story came out in 2016, it didn't receive anything approaching the coverage and pickup that it should have.

    But I would think that, with a sitting president, and with 16 credible accusers, and the charge of rape, that would have changed.

  • William Brangham:

    Do you think it's just that the press has become inured to it, that they have — it feels like there's just so many of these accusations, we can't run them all down?

    I mean, the New York Times editor sort of regretfully said, we didn't give it the play we really should have.

    But what do you think is going on there?

  • Lucia Graves:

    I don't think that The Times should necessarily be singled out here. I do think that this is very prevalent in political media culture.

    And I think it's part of why we have been — and I do feel it's a we — have been so slow to this story and these kinds of stories, and why the kinds of coverage of other men, like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, didn't come until as late as they did.

  • William Brangham:

    You have spoken to not just one, but many of the women who have accused President Trump of this kind of behavior.

    And I'm just curious, what is your sense of how they do, both coming forward, coming with the courage to come forward and say this, the attacks that then follow, and then the aftermath, when there continues to be this ongoing echo of new accusers piling on? How do they handle that?

  • Lucia Graves:

    I think it's exhausting and traumatic. And I think that you — we actually heard this directly from E. Jean Carroll when she talked about why she didn't come forward sooner, which is one of the first things that was sort of leveraged at her, and she knew would be.

    And she said, you know, I had no desire to join the ranks of those women facing death threats and trolls and, you know, people calling them liars, or the president calling them too ugly to sexually assault.

  • William Brangham:

    And we should say, again, for the record that the president has 100 percent denied all of these accusations.

    But what does it say to you that we still seem to have a very difficult time reckoning with the seriousness of these allegations, even today, in the MeToo era?

  • Lucia Graves:

    I think it's incredible.

    Just the notion that women get raped because they're attractive, and not because it's an insult and about power, is very wrong-headed. And I think that we like to think there's been so much growth.

    And, clearly, the media — and I would — and even sort of political establishment, to some extent, is evolving on this. But I think this shows that we're not anywhere close to where we thought we were and where we like to consider ourselves to be.

  • William Brangham:

    Lucia Graves of The Guardian, thank you very much for being here.

  • Lucia Graves:

    Thanks for having me.

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