Much has been written about veteran journalist and Elle Magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll’s sexual assault allegation against President Donald Trump, from her description of the alleged attack (which she alleges occurred in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s) to Trump’s denial of it. But Elaina Plott, in an article published in The Atlantic on Friday morning, focuses specifically on something that hasn’t been covered as much: the responses of Trump’s allies. And as Plott sees it, Trump supporters are expressing a troubling “indifference” to “the most serious allegation of sexual misconduct against the president to date.”
Speaking to reporters for The Hill on Monday, Trump couldn’t resist insulting Carroll — saying, “I’ll say it with great respect: number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?”
Plott explains that she has interviewed a “half-dozen officials” about Carroll’s allegation since the Elle columnist went public with it in a June 21 article for New York Magazine. Of the six officials — who had either worked in the White House or on Trump’s campaign, according to Plott — only one of them had even read Carroll’s article. And one of them told Plott that there have been so many accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump that “we’re just kind of numb to it all at this point.”
Plott asserts that Trump allies “just don’t care that much” about Carroll’s sexual assault allegation, noting that a current White House official told her, “Literally nobody — zero people — have approached me to say that this is an issue. I haven’t given it one second of my bandwidth.”
One problem, according to Plott, could be “Trump allies’ tendency to lump all the women who’ve alleged encounters with Trump into one.” Plott mentions adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleges that Trump had a consensual extramarital affair with her and — via his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen — paid her hush money to keep quiet.
Daniels never accused Trump of sexual assault, unlike Carroll. And one of the officials Plott interviewed told her that in light of the legal problems Daniels’ former attorney, Michael Avenatti, has experienced, it is difficult to take any of Trump accusers seriously. Avenatti, earlier this year, was accused of defrauding clients of millions of dollars.
The Atlantic journalist concludes her piece with a quote from a former White House official who views the reaction to Carroll’s allegation as an example of Trump being immune to allegations of wrongdoing at this point.
“In a lot of ways,” that official told Plott, “he lives up to the name Teflon Don. I can’t think of one thing that can seriously hurt him at this point. Everyone has thrown everything at him, and nothing has really stuck.”