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Trump spokesperson goes silent during interview about sexual assault

The White House faced uncomfortable questions about sexual assault during an interview with Times Up. A spokesperson responded by stonewalling.

Trump spokesperson goes silent during interview about sexual assault
[Photo: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons]

Sometimes, not saying a word can speak volumes.

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This week, Fortune published a set of interviews with top 2020 presidential candidates, in partnership with Time’s Up, a nonprofit organization founded in the wake of the #MeToo movement to combat America’s epidemic of sexual assault. The extensive Q&A series focused on a number of issues important to women and working families: paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership.

Donald Trump didn’t agree to participate in the project, but a White House spokesperson did. The resulting interview is deeply revealing—not just because of the way Trump’s team responded, but also what they refused to say.

According to Fortune, the White House spokesperson didn’t respond to questions about pregnancy discrimination, legislation on the diversity of corporate boards, or sexual harassment. While every Democrat provided answers outlining their support for legislation to improve working conditions for women and working families—such as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Equal Rights Amendment—the White House stayed mum. Instead, the president’s reelection campaign responded with a long statement pointing to the country’s low unemployment and asserting that Trump has “done more for working parents than any president in modern history.”

Other questions were deflected. When asked about the wage gap, for example, the White House spokesperson didn’t address the continued inequity which averages around 80 cents on the dollar but provided this statement:

“This economy under President Trump has seen historically low unemployment and incredible wage growth across almost all demographics. Female unemployment has hit a 65-year low, while the unemployment rate for black Americans and Hispanic Americans is at an all-time low. Paychecks are growing at the fastest pace in a decade, and twice as fast for low- and middle-income Americans. The results speak for themselves.”

As many as 25 women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, including rape and sexual harassment. The president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has accused many of the women of lying. The White House declined to provide any additional statement about legislation to protect workers from sexual harassment.

A former staffer on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign is currently suing for “pregnancy discrimination, alleging she was stripped of job responsibilities after being impregnated by her supervisor,” according to a report by Reuters. Both the White House and Trump’s re-election campaign declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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