Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Sadly, Donald Trump is more right than we’d like to admit when he explained: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything….Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

As more women come forward, it’s worth looking at the mechanics of how this dynamic works with the women and others who Trump wants to subdue.  The most common explanation is that women blame themselves or figure they wont be believed. But Trump’s tactics usually involve getting help from other people, like lawyers, publicists, and editors.

First, there’s the threat of grinding litigation. Trump routinely went to court against people who crossed him, whether it was journalists who criticized him or contractors who hadnt gotten paid. Now he’s threatening to sue not just media outlets but the women who are accusing him.

Trump also seems to have gotten anyone who worked with him to sign non-disclosure agreements. You can do that if you have lots of money for settlements. Tellingly, the first reports about Trump abuse of power at Miss Universe involved the first class of contestants who may have not been under the same NDAs.

Will we ever find out how many people didn’t describe Trump’s behavior simply because they were paid to sign NDAs? Perhaps even Ivanka Trump’s decision to downplay (though not retract) her claims of rape was influenced by the size of the divorce settlement.

Second, Trump has greater access to reporters and media moguls, so anyone contemplating tangling with him can expect to be smeared in the press (with occasional assists from publicists and gullible or pliant reporters and editors). It was the National Inquirer — run by a friend of Trumps — that surfaced his attacks on Ted Cruz’s father.  Natasha Stoynof, the People magazine writer who said she was assaulted by Trump explained, “I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted PEOPLE feature killed.”

And that was all before Trump became a Presidential candidate. Now potential accusers know that he may mock them in front of huge crowds.

Trump tried to get Nancy O’Dell, the woman he unsuccessfully “moved on,” fired a few years later, for being pregnant on air. Why did she never mention the Trump episode? Fear presumably.

In Scarface, Tony Montana declared, “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”

It would be fitting if it turned out that, at least when it comes to votes, you can get the money and the power – without getting the women.

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Steven Waldman is chair of the Rebuild Local News Coalition, cofounder of Report for America, and a contributing editor at the Washington Monthly.