The dozens of accusations of sexual assault and harassment levied against Donald Trump over the years are inseparable from his political identity. But Trump has also endorsed several candidates for office who have been accused by those who know them of domestic violence, threatening behavior or sexual harassment.
Trump’s world is chock full of these types of figures: In 2018, then-White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives. Porter denied the allegations, and the President wished him well on his way out the door. (Porter wasn’t the only White House staffer to resign over abuse allegations.)
Steve Bannon, once Trump’s campaign chief and then a White House counselor, was once accused of pulling his then-wife’s neck and wrist during an argument, and then of grabbing the phone from her and throwing it across the room as she called 911. Bannon pleaded not guilty and the case against him was ultimately dismissed.
And, of course, there was Roy Moore, the Senate candidate accused of sexual predation of teenagers who Trump supported well after those allegations were reported publicly. “Forty years is a long time,” Trump said of the time between the alleged misconduct and Moore’s Senate candidacy.
After his presidency, Trump has continued to endorse and stand by political figures accused of abuse and harassment, including those in the middle of competitive primary races where he has the option of supporting other candidates.
Trump waded into a crowded Republican primary field in September when he endorsed Parnell for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Two months later, Parnell’s wife made multiple accusations of domestic violence against the candidate as part of a years-long child custody dispute, including that he physically abused their children, choked her, and pinned her down and called her “a whore.”
Trump endorsed Walker for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Georgia in September — months after reporters dug up allegations of his threatening behavior.
In July, the Associated Press had unpacked years of allegations against Walker, including that he allegedly threatened his ex-wife’s life multiple times. Filing for divorce in 2001, Walker’s then-wife Cindy Grossman cited “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.” Seeking a protective order against him in 2005, Grossman said her family members had heard repeated threats from Walker against Grossman and her new boyfriend’s lives. Grossman also said herself that Walker had threatened to shoot her in the head. Just before Trump’s endorsement, CNN reported separately on another woman who accused Walker of threatening and stalking her.
Walker has been open about his mental health, and specifically his struggles with Dissociative Identity Disorder. “It is sad that many in politics and the media who praised Herschel for his transparency over a decade ago are now making false statements, stereotyping, attacking, and attempting to sensationalize his past just because he is a Republican Senate candidate,” a Walker spokesperson told CNN in September.
In February, Trump endorsed former White House aide Max Miller’s bid to unseat Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who’d voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot. Gonzalez subsequently announced that he would not seek reelection in 2022.
Last month, former White House communications director Stephanie Grisham alleged in a Washington Post opinion piece that the then-President and first lady “didn’t seem to care” when she told them that her recently-ended relationship with Miller had turned violent.
“That surprises me,” Grisham recalled Trump saying after Grisham told him that Miller had abused her. “He was really broken up over things.” In a CNN interview, Grisham said “there was abuse in every way there,” referring to her relationship with Miller.
“It was like a gut punch when I saw that he endorsed him, knowing what happened,” Grisham told CNN’s Jake Tapper, referring to Trump’s endorsement of Miller. Miller has sued Grisham for defamation over her claims of abuse.
Elder, the unsuccessful Republican frontrunner in this year’s recall race aimed at California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), never formally received Trump’s endorsement for the bid. But, given the environment — California voted for Biden over Trump by a margin of 4 million votes in 2020 — the endorsement likely would have hurt more than it could have helped. Elder, nonetheless, once referred to Trump’s 2016 election as “divine intervention” and affirmed during the recall campaign that he supported Trump.
In October last year, Trump announced that he’d be nominating Elder to serve as a member of the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Business Meeting, a position Elder still holds.
Trump hasn’t yet made an endorsement in the crowded Missouri Republican Senate primary, but Greitens is trying hard to get it, including by bringing in Trump contacts like Kimberly Guilfoyle and pollster Tony Fabrizio.
But Greitens, who resigned from the Missouri governorship under a cloud of scandal, has serious history: In 2018, a hairdresser accused him of leading her to his basement, binding her hands, undressing her, and coercing her into performing oral sex. The woman said she feared for her “physical self,” and a grand jury indicted Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a photo of the woman without her consent during the encounter, allegedly using the image as blackmail.
Greitens admitted to having an affair with the woman but denied any criminal conduct. The case against him fell apart within a few months due to, as TPM reported at the time, “a combination of prosecutorial errors, a difficult-to-prove charge, and one final, decisive ruling from Circuit Judge Rex Burlison, who oversaw the case.”