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US politics

It’s shameful what presidents can get away with

E Jean Carroll during the trial in Manhattan. Stephanie Keith/Getty

A jury in New York finding Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing E Jean Carroll is “undeniably a victory for women”, says Maureen Callahan in the Daily Mail. The trouble is, there’s no law that says sexual abusers cannot run for high office. Past presidents have got away with treating women appallingly. The political and media class covered up JFK’s “execrable behaviour”, including getting the teenage White House intern Mimi Alford drunk and “taking her virginity on his wife’s bed”. Women accusing Bill Clinton of sexual assault or even rape were dismissed as fabulists, sluts or “poor white trash looking for a payout”. Trump has adopted the same tactic – “call your female accuser crazy” – by describing Carroll as “mentally sick”.

But what’s truly sick is that people choose to believe women only when the allegations are against their political opponents. I heard countless liberals claim that the then-New York governor Andrew Cuomo, accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, was the victim of an “orchestrated witch hunt by Republicans”. And what about the accusations of “unwanted physical contact” against Joe Biden? Multiple videos show him “grabbing women and young girls, sniffing their hair from behind or placing his hands on their shoulders” – and yet much of the mainstream media dismisses it “as the unfortunate behaviours of an old man from another time”. While Biden’s actions are of course nothing like as bad as Trump’s, this is where modern America is at: two “compromised elderly men” as frontrunners for the presidency.