Coincidences, coincidences. Despite campaigning for more than a year and a half for president, and despite having fought charges of sexist behavior and remarks at least since the first Republican primary debate, USA Today just got around to looking for legal action against Donald Trump on those bases today. They report that 20 women have sued Trump for either discrimination or other gender-based mistreatment … which, considering the total number of legal actions they found, is a drop in the bucket:
One woman sued Donald Trump’s Miami resort saying she lost her job because she got pregnant.
Two others claimed they were fired after complaining that co-workers sexually harassed them.
And a number of women testified in a lawsuit that Trump himself repeatedly instructed managers to hire younger, prettier workers at his Los Angeles golf club.
The release of a video Friday showing Trump’s sexist remarks in 2005 has created a firestorm of controversy that threatens to derail his campaign. But an ongoing USA TODAY investigation of Trump’s 4,000-plus lawsuits shows that he and his companies have been accused for years of mistreating women. Allegations outlined in at least 20 separate lawsuits accuse Trump and managers at his companies of discriminating against women, ignoring sexual harassment complaints and even participating in the harassment themselves.
The details of these allegations, some not reported until now, suggest that the kinds of lewd and discriminatory actions reported last week may be more prevalent within Trump’s organization than previously known.
“Some not reported until now,” indeed. It’s a little difficult to believe — hell, it’s impossible to believe — that all of this oppo-research gold got overlooked by everyone until less than five weeks before the election, especially by national media that has been openly hostile to Trump for months. It’s also too much of a coincidence that this just happened to come out as a bookend over the debate weekend to Friday’s tape of Trump’s disgusting “grab her by the p***y” comments. This has all the subtlety of a General Sherman stroll through the South.
On the merits, this isn’t good news for Trump, of course, but it’s not clear that it’s going to be all that bad, either. Twenty lawsuits over a forty-year career is a somewhat low number, especially given Trump’s high public profile and his undisciplined communication style. Let’s not discount it either, though; even one legitimate complaint that ties directly to Trump’s behavior will carry at least some political liability. But after Friday’s bombshell, the lawsuits might be less corroborative than anti-climactic.
Frankly, the bigger story should the fact that Trump has been sued 4,000 times for the way he conducts his business, not that 0.5% of them had to do with gender-based complaints. He’s racking up roughly 100 lawsuits a year in his business life, which if nothing else demonstrates a level of liability that undecided voters might start considering as the choice draws nearer. Once again, the risks of running an unvetted and untested celebrity tycoon have emerged.
Finally, the USA Today story reminds us of the epic failure among the other Republican candidates to conduct a serious vetting of Trump when they had the opening. That responsibility gets shared broadly among all of them, but Jeb Bush in particular had raised tons of cash and had a significant organization from the outset. Instead of vetting Trump, though, Bush’s team spent their time attacking Marco Rubio. They may be saying “I told you so” over the last few days, but clearly they didn’t when they had the chance.