On 14 October 2016, amidst an onslaught of public accusations by women alleging that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump had kissed or "groped" them inappropriately, several pro-Trump web sites ran articles holding up a leaked May 2016 e-mail exchange between Democratic National Committee staffers as evidence that the sexual assault allegations were supposedly "contrived" months earlier in a "plot" to smear Trump.
"The Democrats have been planning the 'Grope hit' on Trump for a very long time now," claimed one such report on TruthFeed:
Back in May 2016, Democrats prepared a FAKE Craigslist “Trump employment ad,” using the word “grope,” which as we now know is a common term among these fake Trump accusers.
How “coincidental” that Democrats were play-acting out a scenario with Trump “groping” and a “kiss on the lips.”
Why would they do this when there was never any accusations of his GROPING prior to week three of the presidential election?
It's true that the e-mails, published by WikiLeaks in July 2016, detailed a proposal to design a satirical Craigslist ad seeking "hot" women to work at a Trump organization:
To: PaustenbachM@dnc.org, MirandaL@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-18 21:27
Subject: Re: need comms approval - craigslist job post
Bumping this for comms approval please
On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 7:09 AM -0700, "Freundlich, Christina" <FreundlichC@dnc.org<mailto:FreundlichC@dnc.org>> wrote:
Mark and Luis – digital created a fake craigslist jobs post for women who want to apply to jobs one of Trump’s organizations. This will be a microsite and we still need to send it to Perkins. Since we will be pitching this, need your approval please. Thanks
Multiple Positions (NYC area)
Seeking staff members for multiple positions in a large, New York-based corporation known for its real estate investments, fake universities, steaks, and wine. The boss has very strict standards for female employees, ranging from the women who take lunch orders (must be hot) to the women who oversee multi-million dollar construction projects (must maintain hotness demonstrated at time of hiring).
Title: Honey Bunch (that’s what the boss will call you)
* No gaining weight on the job (we’ll take some “before” pictures when you start to use later as evidence)
* Must be open to public humiliation and open-press workouts if you do gain weight on the job
* A willingness to evaluate other women’s hotness for the boss’ satisfaction is a plus
* Should be proficient in lying about age if the boss thinks you’re too old Working mothers not preferred (the boss finds pumping breast milk disgusting, and worries they’re too focused on their children).
We’re proud to maintain a “fun” and “friendly work environment, where the boss is always available to meet with his employees. Like it or not, he may greet you with a kiss on the lips or grope you under the meeting table.
Interested applicants should send resume, cover letter, and headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>
Clearly, there was a plan discussed (or at least joked about) on or about 18 May 2016 to fabricate a Craigslist ad mocking Trump's behavior toward women, and it did deploy phrases such as "kissing on the lips" and "groping under the table," but — contrary to what the Trump defenders claim — the idea wasn't floated until after groping accusations against the candidate had already surfaced. In point of fact, the e-mail conversation took place two days after a New York Times article dated 16 May 2016 laid out specific allegations identical to the behaviors spoofed in the ad.
For example, the title of the position advertised is supposedly "Honey Bunch" ("that's what the boss will call you," the ad says) — precisely the nickname former Trump employee Barbara Res said Trump gave her on the job.
The spoof says, "Like it or not, [the boss] may greet you with a kiss on the lips or grope you under the meeting table" — and the 16 May Times article reported the experiences of former Miss Utah Temple Taggart, according to whom Trump introduced himself by walking up and kissing her on the lips, and former Trump business associate Jill Harth, who was quoted as saying, "Basically, he name-dropped throughout that dinner, when he wasn't groping me under the table."
The evidence shows that allegations Trump groped and kissed women inappropriately were already in the air before the idea of creating a mock Craigslist ad was floated. Moreover, there's nothing within the texts of the leaked e-mails themselves to indicate a conspiracy to do anything more ambitious than fabricating a single satirical ad.