Departed presidential secretary Rob Porter knows exactly what he did or did not do to a pair of ex-wives and a live-in girlfriend. He may or may not consider what he did abusive; sometimes abusers justify their acts as part of strong disagreements, or maybe a bit of rough sex, or perhaps deserved by the victim. Sometimes they do not, or prefer not to, remember anything at all. And sometimes they are unfairly accused.
But the women know.
And some police officers know.
So do trusting relatives and close friends of the women.
The FBI knows enough to have withheld Porter’s security clearance.
White House counsel Don McGhan knows some of it because the ex-girlfriend told him personally on the phone.
Chief of staff John Kelly knows some of it because it’s his job to know such things.
The person who knows the least about it is Donald Trump, currently the president of the United States and formerly, by his own taped braggadocio, a sexual predator.
And yet the person who has said the most about it publicly is … Donald Trump.
Here’s what he said Friday about Porter’s forced resignation:
“We found out about it recently and I was surprised by it but we certainly wish him well and it's a tough time for him.
“He did a very good job while when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him.
“But it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he's also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he's innocent and I think you have to remember that."
Anything missing there? Such as any mention of the women or expressed concern that maybe they may have also had “a tough time;” such as that possibility making Trump “very sad;” or how he hopes the women have a “great career” ahead of them?
We know all too well by now that the only thing that matters to Trump is how events affect him; that he is the solitary center of his world; that he frequently speaks without knowing what he’s talking about and tells easily disprovable lies.
But why did he express any judgment at all when he could not have known the facts? On what basis did he decide that the women were lying and Porter was truthful? Was it the same basis on which he summarily dismisses as liars the dozen-or-so women who have accused him of harassment and abuse?
His statement lacked even obligatory, boilerplate condemnation of abusive behavior anytime it occurs, since Porter’s accusers do not exist in his world.
Nor was there the slightest recognition that his country is ablaze with frustration and disgust over continuing revelations of abusive, predatory behavior in every profession and business category and across all genders. If he feels no obligation to exercise a president’s duty of moral leadership, he at least could meet the basic obligation to fairness in the absence of facts by keeping his mouth shut.
But Saturday, he doubled down on misogyny, complaining about a lack of due process and careers being ruined by “mere allegation.” Obviously in Trump’s world, due process isn’t available for victims, only accused perps.
The public disgust at his performance is not a matter of policy or politics or ideology. He faced a test of human decency and fairness, and once again he failed.
Davis Merritt, Wichita journalist and author, can be reached at email@example.com.