Before the presidential election, one of Media Matters’ attack dogs spent $200,000 funding an effort to bring down Donald Trump with sexual assault charges. It failed, but if the progressive political and media watchdog keeps to its game plan to impeach the president, this won’t be the end of such efforts.
As reported by Kenneth Vogel in The New York Times, political partisans are “raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support abusers who come forward with charges against President Trump and members of Congress.”
One of those partisans is American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, which gave Lisa Bloom, attorney and daughter of activist lawyer Gloria Allred, $200,000 to fund Trump’s accusers. The organization was founded by Media Matters’ David Brock and says it will possibly create an ongoing fund “to encourage victims to bring forward similar claims against Republican politicians,” Vogel reported.
“California lawyer Lisa Bloom’s efforts included offering to sell alleged victims’ stories to TV outlets in return for a commission for herself, arranging a donor to pay off one Trump accuser’s mortgage and attempting to secure a six-figure payment for another woman who ultimately declined to come forward after being offered as much as $750,000,” clients told The Hill.
Bloom claims that donors like American Bridge were only offering money “to ensure the safety” of the accusers.
On November 3, 2016, Jane Doe (Accuser #3) agreed to speak at a press conference at my office. During the lead-up to the press conference and after, she and I received multiple death and rape threats. Moments before the press conference was scheduled to begin, Jane Doe backed out. I understood why. She was afraid. My heart went out to her as did many who could understand her fear and pain. Of course I respected her decision and helped her remove herself from the narrative.
At that point, several donors came forward with offers of financial help to ensure the safety of the women who would come forward. I was happy to relay those offers of funds for relocation to a safer community and round the clock security.”
Bloom also said that donors helped her clients with basic compensation.
Most people do not get paid for interviews. But some shows will offer a few thousand dollars to license photos, or for an appearance fee. When my client is a single mother, unemployed, in dire need of therapy, on the verge of bankruptcy or all of the above, she may choose to do an interview with the outlet that will compensate her. A few thousand dollars hardly levels the playing field against a billionaire like Donald Trump, but it helps a little, and I leave that decision to my client, after she’s been fully vetted for veracity. Due to an unexpected turn of events, donors also reached out to help some of my clients last year.
Bloom’s efforts failed, but as Brock has indicated, this won’t be the end of the witch-hunt, which fits into the overall strategy Brock developed after the election to undermine Trump and all who support him.
Last year, he wrote a confidential memo in which he explained the role American Bridge would play in putting progressives back in power. “We are going to resist the normalization of Donald Trump,” Brock wrote. “Trump has the legal authority, but we have the moral authority—and the moral responsibility to oppose him.”
No other issue reinforces the notion that Media Matters and Republican opposition have “moral authority” more than bringing down their political enemies with accusations of sexual harassment and assault. American Bridge has and will play a role in that effort.
As stated in Brock’s plan of action,
American Bridge will cement itself as the standard-bearer of opposition research, build on its role as a progressive clearinghouse for information that drives the narrative on Republican officeholders and candidates, and be at the epicenter of Democrats’ work to regain power—starting in 2017 and building to 2020. Here’s what success will look like:
1. Trump will be defeated either through impeachment or at the ballot box in 2020.
2. The balance of power will shift back to Democrats. We will measurably impact US Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative races.
3. We will free ourselves from solely relying on the press. Our robust digital program will reach voters directly online.
The goal of American Bridge 21st Century, as stated on their website, is “holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions and helping you to ascertain when Republican candidates are pretending to be something they’re not.”
The problem with funding sexual assault abusers by any partisan group is that it corrupts the system and removes all credibility of accusers, which is harmful to the women themselves if they are, indeed, telling the truth.
As journalism professor at the University of Southern California Vince Gonzales told Snopes, political partisans who insert themselves into cases take the focus off the victims and puts it onto themselves and political game-playing.
“It’s a zero-sum game, but it’s a very short term gain,” he said. “If you’re a political donor who gets involved and if the story is true, you become the story. You become the political motivation behind the story and then people no longer have to focus on the allegations. That’s the danger.”
Ron Rotunda, professor at Chapman University School of Law, agreed. “These victims have serious stories to tell and we have to get justice for them,” he said. “But we undercut that when people are paid money for their testimony. It taints it. If this were a jury trial, you’d have to ask [a witness], ‘You got x-thousand dollars to say this?’ and from there it’s not hard to connect the dots when there are only two dots. The problem is, if a real victim accepts a payoff it undercuts their story. That’s just a fact of life.”