The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced on July 2 that Ghislaine Maxwell, British socialite and ex-girlfriend of late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was “arrested and charged with enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit both of those offenses, and perjury in connection with a sworn deposition.”
Knowing of Epstein’s preference for young girls, the indictment charged that Maxwell played a critical role in facilitating the sex trafficking of minors.
A reasonable person would think that the last thing the president of the United States would want to do is get mixed up in a case involving sexual abuse of children. Silly me. We’re discussing Donald Trump, not a reasonable person.
Has one single Republican condemned @realDonaldTrump for his comments yesterday related to Ghislaine Maxwell, an indicted sex trafficker and accused rapist of 14 year old girls?
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) July 22, 2020
My mother gave me two pieces of valuable advice that have impacted my career as a leader in academia. She told me “You don’t have to have a public opinion on every topic” and “You don’t have to answer every question you get asked and, in particular, you shouldn’t answer questions you weren’t asked.”
These wise thoughts have stood me in good stead for many years. I recommend them to any administrator.
I thought of my mother when I read President Trump’s response to a reporter on July 21 who asked him to comment on Maxwell’s indictment, and whether the evidence will implicate powerful men, such as England’s Prince Andrew.
If he had followed my mother’s advice, Trump should have said, “The President and the Executive Branch of the federal government are responsible for enforcing the laws. The judiciary branch of government makes determinations of guilt and innocence. This is a matter for the courts, not me. Next question.”
Instead, Trump replied:
“I don’t know. I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach. I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well. Whatever it is. I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew. Just don’t know. Not aware of it.”
Donald Trump certainly wasn’t raised by my mother. If he were, he would have realized he was under no compulsion to discuss the Maxwell case. He could have offered an empathic statement regarding the victims of child sex abuse. Instead, when discussing someone accused of aiding and abetting sex trafficking of minors, he chose to “wish her well, frankly.”
JUST IN: Pres. Trump on Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime companion of infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein: "I just wish her well, frankly."
— ABC News (@ABC) July 21, 2020
I could suggest that we need some time to recover from the shock of the president offering his well wishes to someone accused of fostering child molestation, but it’s getting harder and harder to be shocked by the depths to which Trump will sink.
Rather, we need to think about how what our president says might predict what he will do. Trump has repetitively undermined the justice system. He has handed out presidential pardons and commutation of sentences to convicted criminals who are willing to lie to protect him.
Perhaps he is sending a very public signal to Maxwell to keep silent about any potentially damaging information she knows about him? Trump has certainly given the American people plenty of reasons to think that this is exactly what he is doing.
Trump did not have the benefit of receiving my mother’s advice. My mother, fortunately, did not have the burden of having him as a son.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.