It's been a rough week for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Last week, an audio recording from 2005 surfaced in which Trump can be heard speaking about women in a crude and predatory manner. Wednesday, The New York Times and People Magazine published accounts from multiple women alleging the businessman sexually harassed or assaulted them.
Trump half-apologized for the audio, but also dismissed it by calling it "locker-room talk." Regarding any sexual misconduct, Trump told a crowd in West Palm Beach Thursday that the allegations being made against him are "pure fiction," and "outright lies." He also said his campaign has "substantial evidence" to dispute the claims, and that such evidence will be made public "very soon."
A specific portion of the People Magazine story by Natasha Stoynoff is now being disputed by the man she claims witnessed part of the alleged assault:
...I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself. The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview.
Although she doesn't name names, the "longtime butler" to whom Stoynoff refers is likely Anthony Senecal. However, Senecal has come out swinging against the accusation:
No, that never happened. Come on, that’s just bull crap...Everybody is just jumping on the train...I think you’re going to see even more of it between now and the election. But these incidents never happened.
Before taking Senecal's rebuttal at face value, it's important to consider two things.
First, one could easily call Senecal's judgment into question. His Facebook page is loaded with links to conspiracy theory pieces regarding President Obama, whom he refers to as a "muzzie" (Muslim) who should be executed. Some of his other posts pertaining to Democrats, and the Left in general, contain strong language that could reasonably be called unhinged.
Second--and arguably more critical--if what Stoynoff claims is accurate, it would mean that Senecal witnessed Trump sexually assaulting a woman, and said absolutely nothing. Given this, it would be prudent for Senecal to deny the allegation because it would badly tarnish his name as well as Trump's.
If what Stoynoff claims is accurate, it would mean that Senecal witnessed Trump sexually assaulting a woman, and said absolutely nothing ... it would be prudent for Senecal to deny the allegation because it would badly tarnish his name as well as Trump's.
Only time will tell if Donald Trump actually has the evidence to substantiate his defense, or if Stoynoff will find a way to bolster her accusation.
Despite the extremely serious nature of the allegations, as of right now, they remain unverified. Until further evidence comes to light, either favoring Trump's account or Stoynoff's, it's necessary to remember that in the American legal system, a presumption of innocence is standard.