MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said Thursday that he was “skeptical” about the timing of a slew of new sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, arguing that he would have come forward sooner if he was harassed by the Republican nominee.
“I’m skeptical about the timing of all of this dropping,” the “Morning Joe” host said in a panel discussion. “Talk about an October surprise. There have been a thousand triggering events that would have made sense. If I had been sexually harassed by this man—the Megyn Kelly story would have given me an opportunity, there have been a thousand of the reports already.”
Scarborough suggested that the accounts published Wednesday in People, The New York Times, and the Palm Beach Post by women alleging that Trump forcibly groped or kissed them were planted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Perhaps it’s all innocent,” the MSNBC host said. “Perhaps there’s no oppo drop. Perhaps it’s not coordinated.”
Scarborough emphasized that he was “not skeptical at all of the stories” themselves, which include allegations that Trump forcibly kissed a People magazine reporter during an interview and groped a female passenger seated beside him in a first-class airplane cabin over 30 years ago.
Rather, he said, he felt the timing was suspect, given that Trump’s past behavior towards and comments about women have been a consistent story throughout the 2016 race.
At least four of the women say they came forward after Trump said during Sunday’s second presidential debate that he never inappropriately touched women without their consent. In a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape leaked Friday, the real estate mogul can be heard bragging about how he used his fame to get away with doing “anything” to women he found attractive.
MSNBC commentator and Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin pointed out that this sequence of events explained why these stories, all of which Trump has adamantly denied, were only emerging now.
“It came out days before the election because of what he said, because of the Billy Bush tape, ‘Access Hollywood’ tape and what he said to Anderson Cooper [during the debate],” Halperin said.
Research indicates that sexual harassment is widely underreported because women feel responsible for the assaults they endure, fear an unfriendly criminal justice system, or believe people will doubt their stories.
Scarborough responded to reports on his Wednesday morning comments reiterating that he had “no reason to doubt any of these accusations whatsoever,” accusing the media of “twisting” his words.
I am disappointed but not surprised by those twisting my words this morning from their proper context regarding the media’s timing. (Con’t)
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) October 13, 2016
MSNBC has since deleted a tweet featuring a video clip of this portion of the panel.