On Sunday night, President Donald Trump appeared on 60 Minutes for an interview with Lesley Stahl. The interview attempted to cover a gauntlet of important topics, from climate change (Trump still isn’t convinced) to the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Trump’s friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. As is the norm with the president’s interactions with the press, he shared few policy specifics but revealed much about his character.
Disturbingly, Trump doubled down on a speech he gave at a rally in Mississippi earlier this month, in which he ruthlessly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Dr. Blasey Ford participated in a public hearing during then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process to testify about the sexual assault she alleges she faced at the hands of Kavanaugh in the 1980s.
Trump clarified that he believes this speech helped Kavanaugh become confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, literally saying, “Had I not made that speech, we would not have won.”
Trump’s polarizing desire to “win” in politics is concerning, and his repeated decision to mock and demean opponents is especially so.
The president mocks a lot of people. There was Serge Kovaleski, the journalist whose disability Trump mimicked. Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom he called “Pochantos” to mock her Native American heritage. Actress Rosie O’Donnell, with whom he has a mystifying feud, he described as a “pig.”
In some ways, this means his treatment of Ford is no surprise. But the details of her story, which Stahl reiterated during their interview, make his behavior particularly insidious.
Stahl: Why did you have to make fun of her?
Trump: I didn’t really make fun of her.
Stahl: Well, they were laughing.
Trump: What I said the person that we’re talking about didn’t know the year, the time, the place.
Stahl: Professor Blasey Ford got before the Senate and– and was asked what’s the worst moment. And she said, “When the two boys laughed at me, at my expense.”
Trump: Ok, fine.
Stahl: And then I watched you mimic her and thousands of people were laughing at her.
Trump: They can do what they– I– I will tell you this. The way now Justice Kavanaugh was treated has become a big factor in the midterms. Have you seen what’s gone on with the polls?
Trump went on to claim that Blasey Ford was “treated with great respect.”
Stahl: Do you think you treated her with respect?
Trump: I think so, yeah. I did.
Stahl: But you seem to be saying that she lied.
Trump: W– you know what? I’m not gonna get into it because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.
In reference to Kavanaugh, Trump stresses his perception that people are “trying to destroy a life of a man who has been extraordinary.“ Questions about what is so “extraordinary” about Kavanaugh aside, sadly, the notion that women are collateral in a world of men’s success is nothing new.
Survivors, including Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, who also accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, have to worry about harassment, threats, and losing their careers. Now, they even have to worry about being mocked by the president.
Trump is no stranger to sexual assault allegations himself. In fact, as of last month, 22 women have come forward to accuse the president of sexual assault. But if viewers had any lingering doubt about the way the president views women, an interaction with Stahl sums it up.
President Trump to Lesley Stahl: "Lesley, it's okay. In the meantime, I'm president–and you're not." pic.twitter.com/eo3Nh97emz
— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) October 15, 2018
“Lesley, it’s okay,” he interrupts Stahl, while discussing the media’s treatment of him. “In the meantime, I’m president–and you’re not.”