Culture

Could Bragging About Sexual Assault Finally Turn Voters Against Donald Trump For Good?

"You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy."

For over a year now, we’ve watched Donald Trump make countless offensive remarks that in a sane universe would instantly disqualify him from ever holding public office. He accused Mexicans of being rapists. He ridiculed the disabled. He called for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States. Every time he opened his mouth, we sat back and wondered: will this be the thing that finally makes the American people come to their senses? And every time, we were left disappointed.

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Yet even in the context of this baffling, terrifying election, the latest scandal to embroil the Republican candidate feels different, like it has the potential to do real damage to Trump’s presidential campaign.

For those of you who missed the initial story, The Washington Post obtained a recording, captured in 2005, in which Trump can be heard making a string of sexist comments, culminating in a boast about how his celebrity meant he could “do anything” to women.

“I just start kissing them,” said Trump to TV personality Billy Bush. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump also made disparaging comments about an unnamed married woman with whom he unsuccessfully tried to have an affair. “I did try and fuck her,” said Trump. “I moved on her like a bitch but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

This is far from the first time that Trump has been heard making sexist remarks – in fact, he openly bragged about doing so as recently as last week’s presidential debate. But these comments, in which he crows about sexual assault, have drawn condemnations not just from his political opponents, but high-ranking Republicans as well. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “sickened” by Trump’s remarks, while majority leader Mitch McConnell said the comments reflected “an utter lack of respect for women.”

A number of Republicans, including Senator Mike Lee, went as far as to suggest that Trump should drop out of the race – although the likelihood of this actually happening seems fairly slim.

Late night talkshow hosts were quick to react to Trump’s latest controversy, with Full Frontal‘s Samantha Bee and The Late Show‘s Stephen Colbert both releasing videos lampooning the incident.

Trump has since put out a short statement of his own, in which he describes his remarks as “locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

“I apologise if anyone was offended,” he added.

He later released a video apology via Twitter, where he also launched a fresh attack on Hillary Clinton. “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,” he said. “I’ve said some foolish things. But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

For the record, Donald Trump has himself been accused of sexual assault on multiple occasions.

Of course the sad reality is that even with these new revelations, it’s entirely possible that the Trump campaign will recover, just as it has hundreds of times before. Either way though, one thing is for damn sure: the second presidential debate just became must-see TV.