An investigation — that is the ultimate goal of “16 Women and Donald Trump,” the new documentary regarding the president’s alleged sexual misconduct that’s making the rounds on social media.
“Trump somehow has a job with no accountability. He can distort and lie, attacking others, and his own behavior was not being called out, frankly,” said Robert Greenwald, founder and president of the nonprofit Brave New Films, which produced the free documentary.
During the 2016 presidential election, more than a dozen women accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances toward them in the years before his decision to enter politics. Some of the alleged incidents date to the 1980s.
Though Trump and White House officials have repeatedly denied those allegations, the president faces legal action in one related case.
Greenwald, who grew up in Washington Heights but currently lives in Culver City, California, said as he watched more and more powerful and prominent men being held accountable for alleged sexual misconduct in recent months, he got a “sense the ground was shifting” and pounced on what he felt was an opportunity to give the women who accused Trump last year some justice.
“I asked the team to make sure no one else had aggregated on video what I wanted to do,” Greenwald said. “We put it together from existing footage of each of these women, and when you watch one after the other, after the other . . . you’re struck by that there was not just one or two, but 16.”
The 3 1/2-minute short documentary, released on Nov. 15, features 16 of the president’s accusers as they detail in their own words how Trump allegedly kissed them without permission, grabbed their private parts, put his hand up their skirts or made other unwanted advances.
Greenwald said it was important to him and everyone else who worked on the film that the documentary spoke for itself without being flashy.
“The tone of the video — we spent a lot of time working on it so that it’s not in your face, it’s not bombastic . . . it’s women telling the story of what happened to them,” he said. “The camera does speak a truth. When you see these women . . . you feel them, their pains, their concerns, their anger, their humiliation.”
Feeling “outrage” and “fury” as he oversaw the documentary’s creation, watching woman after woman telling their stories, Greenwald said he was inspired to do more than just release the film. His team reached out to the women featured in the documentary and three of them agreed to hold a news conference calling for an investigation into Trump’s alleged accusations.
Greenwald joined Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks and Samantha Holvey on Monday as they argued that the accusations warranted new consideration given the broader discussion of sexual harassment since the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Crooks, a former receptionist for a real estate firm, said Congress should “put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump’s history of sexual misconduct.”
As a nonprofit, Brave New Films aims to tell stories that aren’t being told, Greenwald said, connecting dots and helping people understand subjects in a succinct way, which lends itself well to social change activism.
“There’s a great line ‘democracy is not a spectator sport.’ I think that myself and my colleagues believe that passionately,” he added. “There should be an investigation of the actions of Donald Trump and it’s reasonable.”
Over 100 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter calling for an investigation, but it was immediately met with resistance from the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) responded to the group on Tuesday saying, “The specific allegations set forth in your letter constitute crimes,” both federal and state.
Gowdy noted that congressional panels cannot prosecute crimes so he was forwarding the group’s letter to the Department of Justice. He added that any charges not alleging crimes should go to the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over “allegations related to fitness for office and noncriminal matters.”
“There should be an investigation of the actions of Donald Trump and it’s reasonable,” Greenwald countered. “It’s why we have legislators, it’s why we have elected people who do work for us.”