Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Saturday said he will sue the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, making the announcement during a speech aimed at outlining his plans for the first 100 days of his potential presidency.
“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign, total fabrication. The events never happened, never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” Trump said, eliciting cheers from the crowd in Gettysburg, Penn.
Multiple women in recent weeks have accused Trump of inappropriately touching or kissing them without consent in incidents spanning decades. Trump hasrepeatedly denied the accusations, attacking the appearance and credibility of his accusers. In his remarks on Saturday, he went a step further in announcing plans to take legal action against them, but some media law experts voiced skepticism that such litigation would be viable.
“Does he have a viable legal claim? The answer is: the evidence that we know today doesn’t seem to suggest that,” said Sandra Baron, a senior fellow at Yale Law School and media law expert. “It’ll be his obligation to prove that what the women said was false and defamatory.”
She said while it would be possible to prove the defamatory nature of their accusations because sexual assault is a criminal offense, it would be difficult to prove the statements were false or that they damaged his already high-profile reputation.
“He’s the ultimate public figure. He faces the ultimate burden in any one of those lawsuits,” said Ted Boutrous, Jr., a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who specializes in First Amendment law. “It’s outrageous. It’s frivolous. It’s beneath our democracy to have someone who’s running for president make that kind of threat on the eve of an election.”
Both Boutrous and Baron said Trump’s recently leaked lewd commentsfrom a 2005 conversation—in which Trump bragged about groping women—would serve as corroborating evidence for the accusations against him.
“He’s verging on, or has already become, what’s known as a libel-proof plaintiff,” Boutrous said, adding that he thinks “it’s inconceivable any one of those suits could ever proceed, let alone succeed.”