Women’s Rights Attorney Gloria Allred on Suing Donald Trump for Sexual Assault: 'Truth Matters'
We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which has been surging with energy from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. It was at Sundance two decades ago that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein allegedly assaulted actress Rose McGowan. McGowan told The New York Times in October that Weinstein offered her $1 million in a hush money payment if she signed a nondisclosure agreement to not come forward with her charges that he raped her in a hotel room during the 1997 festival. We speak with longtime women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents one of the women who have accused President Trump of sexual assault, and feature an excerpt from a new documentary on her life and path-breaking legal career, called “Seeing Allred.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival here in Park City, Utah, which has been surging with energy from the #MeToo and #Times Up movement all week. The week began with hundreds of thousands of women taking to the streets across the United States Saturday to mark the first anniversary of last year’s historic Women’s March protesting President Trump’s inauguration. Here in Park City, Utah, protesters braved freezing temperatures and a snowstorm to take part in the Respect Rally.
It was here at Sundance two decades ago that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein allegedly assaulted actress Rose McGowan. McGowan told The New York Times in October Weinstein offered her $1 million in a hush money payment if she signed a nondisclosure agreement to not come forward with her charges that he raped her in a hotel room during the 1997 Sundance Festival.
Just last year, Weinstein was at Sundance and attended the Women’s March here. Weinstein was in town promoting Jay Z’s docuseries Time: The Kalief Browder Story about New York City teenager Kalief Browder, who committed suicide in 2015 after being sent to Rikers jail at age 16 and held for three years, much of that time in solitary confinement. Last year, I was able to speak to Jay Z about Kalief, about Rikers, until Harvey Weinstein ended the interview.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Rikers should be closed?
JAY Z: Oh, man. Well, if anything like that is happening, if one kid—if that happens to one kid, any place that that can happen to any kid should be closed.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on Donald Trump and what it means for—
JAY Z: I’m not going to answer that.
AMY GOODMAN: —or, no, what it means for mass incarceration?
HARVEY WEINSTEIN: All right, guys, that’s enough. Let’s go. You know what? This is a labor of love for Jay. And as a result, he’s my friend. We’re here to talk about that and nothing else.
AMY GOODMAN: Then, can I ask about mass incarceration?
HARVEY WEINSTEIN: We’ve done it. We’ve done it. Thanks, guys. Thanks.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you think the movement is—OK.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Thanks, guys.
AMY GOODMAN: That was last year, as Harvey Weinstein took Jay Z away from our interview.
Well, this year, one of the protesters at Saturday’s Women’s March here in Park City, Utah, was longtime women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Allred is one of the most powerful advocates for survivors of sexual assault, and a survivor herself. She now represents one of the women who have accused President Trump of sexual assault. Her daughter, attorney Lisa Bloom, was an adviser to Weinstein and has apologized for that since. During Gloria Allred’s speech on Saturday at the Respect Rally, Allred called for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
GLORIA ALLRED: We demand the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, that equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Resist!
GLORIA ALLRED: Persist!
GLORIA ALLRED: Elect!
GLORIA ALLRED: And don’t forget insist. Insist! And let me tell you, Utah, we have 36 states who have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, most recently Nevada. And now it is time for Utah. Resist!
GLORIA ALLRED: Insist!
GLORIA ALLRED: Persist!
GLORIA ALLRED: Elect!
GLORIA ALLRED: And give a hearing to the ERA in Utah. Yes, let’s hear it! We need you to be the 37th state. We need 38th. Let me tell you, no one has ever given women their rights. The women who fought for the right to vote, suffrage, the 19th Amendment, had to fight for 72 years to win the right to vote. And we have been fighting for almost 95 years just to put women in the Constitution to protect the rights of our daughters. And we are going to have it. We are going to fight to win it. We are going to make sure that, from the White House to the Congress to state capitols to our workplaces to our homes, that we are going to stand for protection in the Constitution for women and equal rights.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s longtime women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred speaking at the Women’s March here in Park City, Utah, Saturday. She was at the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of a documentary about her life and path-breaking legal career. The film is called Seeing Allred. This is the trailer.
GLORIA ALLRED: I am so proud of all of the women who have had the courage to speak out. Rich, famous, powerful men have to understand there are rules, there are boundaries. They must respect those boundaries. This has got to end, and it needs to end right now. There is a war on women. Women depend on me to be strong and to assert and protect their rights.
DIANE SAWYER: Joining us now…
NEWS ANCHOR: Civil rights attorney.
WENDY WILLIAMS: Please welcome Gloria Allred.
UNIDENTIFIED: She talked about sexual harassment, race, women’s rights, when nobody wanted to talk about it.
GLORIA ALLRED: He thinks no more women will come forward. He is very wrong. Power only understands power. Fighting injustice is a commitment that I made many years ago.
LISE-LOTTE LUBLIN: She understands what we are experiencing based on what she had experienced herself.
GLORIA ALLRED: What happened to me was absolutely shocking. To this day, I can’t even think about it.
INTERVIEWER: Is this getting too personal?
GLORIA ALLRED: My commitment to women comes from my own life experience.
UNIDENTIFIED: I have this venom toward Gloria Allred.
KEITH ROBINSON: Whenever you see Allred, you know somebody’s lying.
GLORIA ALLRED: [as a Simpsons character] That’s assault! That is assault!
GLORIA STEINEM: I think Gloria enjoys conflict. This makes her a great champion for us.
UNIDENTIFIED: People say she’s loud, she’s got an ego, she must just love the camera.
UNIDENTIFIED: She’s trying to turn women into men!
GLORIA ALLRED: I think, secretly, you envy women, and you fear them!
UNIDENTIFIED: I just say, haven’t you met any men like that?
GLORIA ALLRED: You should use these resources to arrest these fathers who are not paying their child support.
DENISE BROWN: If it wouldn’t have been for Gloria, Nicole would have always been just that person on the gurney.
GLORIA ALLRED: We deserve to know if Mr. Cosby is a sexual predator. This is not state law as we see it. Hopefully, next year, you can issue the marriage license. If I help people evolve from being a victim to becoming a survivor, to becoming a fighter for change. Women are now empowered, and they will never be silent again.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s the trailer for Seeing Allred, the documentary film on the legendary women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. It comes out on Netflix on February 9th. But the film did just premiere here at the Sundance Film Festival. After Gloria Allred walked off the stage, in the midst of the snowstorm and freezing weather on Saturday, I got a chance to speak with her at Saturday’s rally.
GLORIA ALLRED: I’m attorney Gloria Allred. And I’m a women’s rights attorney, and I have been for 42 years.
AMY GOODMAN: And you represent some of the women who have charged Trump with sexual assault. That’s the president.
GLORIA ALLRED: I represent one woman, Summer Zervos, who is one of the women who spoke out in reference to then-Mr. Trump during the campaign and made allegations that he engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with her. He then called her and all of the women who spoke out liars, and said it was fabrication and fiction, and he would sue them all after the election. He did not sue them.
I called on him, after the election, to retract his threats to sue and his statement that they were all liars. He did not do that. So, on behalf of Summer Zervos, we filed the defamation lawsuit in New York. And it is now pending before the court. He’s made a motion to dismiss. We have filed our opposition. We have provided our oral argument in a hearing, and we are awaiting the court’s decision as to whether we will be permitted to proceed with this defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump, President Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: Does the president have immunity?
GLORIA ALLRED: The president has argued that he has legal immunity as president of the United States. In response, of course, we argued that that issue has been decided in the case of Paula Jones v. President Clinton, wherein the United States Supreme Court said that no man is above the law, including the president of the United States, for unofficial acts. We argue that if we can prove defamation and that he said what he said prior to becoming president of the United States, that’s an unofficial act and that he should not enjoy legal immunity.
One of his other arguments was that he’s president 24/7, essentially, is too busy to be defending lawsuits. Our response to that is, we will be very respectful of the president’s schedule, and in the event that we are permitted to take his deposition, his testimony under oath, we’ll even be willing to do it at Mar-a-Lago between rounds of golf.
AMY GOODMAN: Why is it so important to take on the president of the United States at this point? And your thoughts on the fact that 16 women came forward and charged Donald Trump with various acts of sexual misbehavior, sexual assault and harassment, and he became president after that?
GLORIA ALLRED: The reason that we filed this lawsuit is because truth matters. And that’s why we are pursuing this lawsuit. I am very proud of all of the women who came forward in the last year and a half against rich, powerful, famous men, and made the allegations of the injustice that they felt that they had suffered in their lives. Truth matters to them, too. And women are going to continue to speak out.
AMY GOODMAN: Will other women be coming forward, do you know of, against President Trump?
GLORIA ALLRED: I have no comment on that.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did Summer Zervos charge that Donald Trump did to her?
GLORIA ALLRED: We’re not going to be going into that. We have made all of our allegations in the complaint in our lawsuit, that is on file. But I’m proud of all of the courage of all of the women.
AMY GOODMAN: So, all the women came forward. Donald Trump became president. But at the same time, the #MeToo movement just burst on the scene. And now the 16 women who have come out, speaking, charging President Trump with various allegations of assault and harassment and misconduct, are at it again. They’re going around for a second shot to say, “Take us seriously.” They want a congressional investigation.
GLORIA ALLRED: Well, some are speaking out. Some are not speaking out. But they spoke what they said was the truth about their lives. And I think that’s what’s important. We have heard them. We will continue to hear them. And not only against and about President Trump, but about other powerful men who have hurt them in their lives, who have crossed boundaries, who have shown a lack of respect, who have not been engaged in affording them their rights, but instead in denying them their rights.
So, women will never be silent again. They are empowered in a way that they’ve never been before. And we’re going to win change. We have already won some changes, because women have not allowed that fear to be used as a weapon to silence them. And we’re going to win even more in the years ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: Gloria Allred, you’re here at the Sundance Film Festival, where there is a film premiering about you.
GLORIA ALLRED: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Allred.
GLORIA ALLRED: There it is: Seeing Allred.
AMY GOODMAN: Seeing Allred.
GLORIA ALLRED: Yes. I’m just honored that this documentary, which has been in the works for three years, covering many of my battles for justice for women, is going to be launched this weekend, and then on February 9th on Netflix. And it’s in the documentary competition, so we were honored to be selected. Out of 2,000 entries, I understand, 16 were placed in the competition. Ours is one of them. I just hope that it helps to inspire women when they see these other women in the film, some of them my clients, some of them not my clients, saying, “We demand change.”
AMY GOODMAN: What has motivated you personally, your own life experiences, that led you to represent so many women taking on powerful men?
GLORIA ALLRED: Because I realized how much is at stake. I know my own life experiences, and I have suffered in many ways that other women have. And all I can say is, what I want is for women to move from becoming just victims to becoming survivors, to becoming fighters for change. This is a transformative moment, and they are becoming fighters for change.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you ever expect to see this moment?
GLORIA ALLRED: It is a process, and we have been working in this process for 42 years. But this is a very major moment. And there’s a ripple effect. The wave has been coming in for a long time. Now it’s a tsunami. And women will never be silenced again.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s legendary women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Coming up, Jane Fonda. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Totally Wired” by The Fall. The Fall’s lead songwriter and singer Mark E. Smith died on Wednesday at the age of 60. Billy Bragg wrote on Twitter, “First we lost Ursula Le Guin, then Hugh Masekela, now Mark E Smith. Been a tough week for cultural icons.