Donald Trump sparks outcry by defending military sex assault tweet

The Republican candidate was speaking at a 30-minute Q&A session in New York

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Thursday 08 September 2016 12:52 BST
Mr Trump said he stood by his 2013 comment
Mr Trump said he stood by his 2013 comment (AP)

Donald Trump managed to say an awful lot of things that sparked controversy in a 30-minute question and answer session about national security issues.

But nothing created more outcry than his attempt to defend a 2013 comment that sexual assaults in the military happened because men and women were both permitted to serve together in the armed forces.

During his appearance at the NBC event in New York, Mr Trump was asked about the prevalence of sexual assaults by a member of the audience whose daughter was considering a career in the military. Mr Trump said it was a a “massive problem.”

At that point, the host of the event, Matt Lauer, reminded Mr Trump of a tweet he had posted in 2013 which read: “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

Mr Trump said he stood by his comment.

“Well, it is, it is a correct tweet,”Mr Trump said during the so-called Commander-in-Chief Forum. “There are many people that think that that's absolutely correct…Well, well, it’s happening, right? And, by the way, since then, it’s gotten worse.”

When Mr Lauer asked him if the solution was to remove women from the military, Mr Trump dismissed the idea but added, “something has to happen”.

“Right now, part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted.”

The New York billionaire added that his solution would be to prosecute the accused within a military court system - even though there already exists a long-established military judicial system.

“The best thing we can do is set up a court system within the military,” he said. “Right now the court system practically doesn't exist.”

He added: “When you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequences for that person. You have to go after that person. Right now, nobody is doing anything.”

Mr Trump was widely denounced on social media for apparently blaming the victims of sexual assault for what had happened to them, and for appearing to oppose integration in the armed services. Mr Lauer was also the object of widespread criticism for not pushing Mr Trump on the matter. He was also criticised for not holding the tycoon to account when he claimed he had opposed the war in Iraq, something he at least initially supported.

Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, also took part in the forum. Asked abut her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Ms Clinton repeated that “it should not have been done,” insisting that she had not threatened national security. She also said it was a mistake to vote to support the invasion of Iraq, a measure passed by the Congress in October 2002.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in