By Kyle Becker
Getty – Joe Raedle
The New York Times certainly picked a politically opportune time to pick a fight with the Trump campaign. And if Donald Trump’s threat to the Times is any indication, it will soon have a legal fight on its hands.
The Times ran a piece Wednesday night alleging that Trump committed the crime of “sexual assault” just weeks prior to the November election. One of the cases is 35 years old, the other is 11 years old.
The Times story cites the stories of two women: Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks. Leeds discusses the alleged sexual assault:
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.
Crooks describes being kissed by Trump against her will:
Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
It didn’t feel like an accident, she said. It felt like a violation.
The Trump campaign has responded, firstly, by denying the claims. Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller dismissed the allegations as an attempt to “smear” the presidential candidate:
“To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election,” Miller said of the Times story.
.“It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.”
Neither case has been tried in a court of law. Both cases are said by The Times to have occurred in the State of New York. If they were to be tried in a court of law under a relatively high standard of “sexual assault,” both would be beyond the statute of limitations.
While there is no statute of limitation for “rape,” barring DNA evidence, the statute of limitations for sexual assault and related offenses in New York is five years.
Since the cases cannot be tried in a court of law, there is an argument that the Times may be guilty of defamation of character. The Trump campaign would first have to prove that the stories are false; then, that the Times ran them in order to harm or slander the presidential candidate with “malicious intent.”
ABC News reports that the Trump campaign threatened to sue the New York Times before its “October surprise” was even published:
“In my phone interview of Trump last night he threatened to sue us if we published these allegations,” reporter Megan Twohey told CNNMoney.
Then Twohey received a legal letter from a Trump attorney on Wednesday afternoon.
The Times justified its release of the news story as falling in the realm of the “public interest”:
“I think it is pretty evident this story falls clearly in the realm of public service journalism, and discussing issues that arose from the tape and his comments since it surfaced,” Times executive editor Dean Baquet told CNNMoney.
Trump does not have the time required to mount a defense; not to mention the issue of the statute of limitations having apparently expired on these cases.
The cases may be founded or unfounded, but since due diligence was not served, the American people have been done a disservice by the New York Times. This is nothing more than a well-timed hit piece carried out in the interest of electing Hillary Clinton.
No, the “public interest” is letting the American people decide a national election on the issues, not on unsubstantiated, decades-old sexual allegations. The next time the New York Times runs a “news story,” remember whose interest it actually serves.
The Wildfire is an opinion platform and any opinions or information put forth by contributors are exclusive to them and do not represent the views of IJR.
Tags: Boehner, character assassination, Clinton campaign, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Palmieri, Jessica Leeds, libelous, Mindy McGillivray, Natasha Stoynoff, New York Times, Palm Beach Post, Paul Ryan, People Magazine, Rachel Crooks, sexual assault, Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Trump grabbed her breasts, wildfire