Poor Choice

Donald Trump Courts Mike Tyson, a Convicted Rapist, and Other Rape Apologists

Donald Trump reportedly has convicted rapist Mike Tyson and chair-throwing, rape apologist coach Bobby Knight on his wish list for the GOP convention.

Photo Illustration by Brigette Supernova/The Daily Beast

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump—who has gone out of his way to accuse Mexicans of rape and frequently slams Bill Clinton as an accused rapist—apparently wants an actual convicted rapist at the Republican National Convention this summer.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg Politics reported that the Trump campaign has been lining up a roster of sports stars and celebrities to appear at the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July. This shortlist includes Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, NASCAR CEO Brian France—and world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

Tyson enthusiastically endorsed Trump earlier this year, and the real-estate mogul has repeatedly praised the boxer and touted his endorsement.

"Mike Tyson endorsed me, I love it,” Trump boasted in April. “You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that.”

The boxer and Hangover star’s inclusion is especially jarring (and rings of Trump’s hypocrisy) due to the fact that Tyson has himself been convicted of rape.

Tyson served three years in prison following his 1992 conviction for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant. Medical examination found Washington's physical state to be consistent with rape. High-profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz tried and failed to get Tyson off on appeal, and Tyson maintained that Washington had a history of crying rape.

“How do you rape someone when they come to your hotel room at two in the morning?” Tyson has written, in what stands as a remarkably weak—and at best tone-deaf rebuttal—to a serious allegation and charge of brutal rape.

Trump, for his part, as a friend and ardent defender of Tyson, floated the idea in 1992 that Tyson should be allowed to pay “millions and millions” of dollars to rape victims instead of serving jail time for the crime.

Trump’s modest proposal did not go over well with some.

“How offensive,” shot back Dollyne Pettingill, spokeswoman for the mayor of Indianapolis, where Tyson committed the assault. “We have a judicial process for these matters and it’s not for sale.”

That same year, Trump also victim-blamed Washington on national television.

“You have a young woman that was in his hotel room late in the evening at her own will,” Trump told NBC Nightly News, in a clip obtained by BuzzFeed News in April. “You have a young woman seen dancing for the beauty contest — dancing with a big smile on her face, looked happy as can be.”

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“It’s my opinion that to a large extent, Mike Tyson was railroaded in this case,” Trump continued in the NBC interview.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment regarding the selection of Tyson.

Trump later tweeted that Tyson hadn’t been asked to speak at the convention but that he’d do a good job if so. Trump’s campaign had not clarified whether Tyson would be in appearance or actually speaking.

But Tyson, believe it or not, is not the only potentially offensive individual on the convention’s potential roster.

Bobby Knight drew widespread criticism in 1988 for drawing an analogy between dealing with stress and being raped. When asked by NBC News’s Connie Chung how he handled stress, the famous coach bluntly replied, ''I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.''

Yes, he really said that.

Trump—who once called on New York to bring back the death penalty to kill five people who were later exonerated in the infamous Central Park rape case—also has the unfortunate personal history of having his ex-wife Ivana Trump use “rape” to describe an incident between the two of them in 1989. (She later said she felt “violated” by the experience.)

Beyond the hypocrisy of being chummy with a convicted rapist, Trump also likes to toss around the word as an analogy for various things.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said at his campaign launch last year. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

On Tuesday night, hours after delivering a speech largely centered around NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the presumptive Republican nominee compared the trade policy to the act of rape.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster," Trump said at an event in Ohio. "Done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country. Just a continuing rape of our country. That's what it is too — it's a harsh word — it's a rape of our country."

He used this unseemly comparison during a speech in Indiana in May, saying that “we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” in reference to the country’s trade practices with the United States.

And if Tyson does appear at the Republican convention next month, it’ll be clear that the GOP presidential contender isn’t going to let some pesky little rape conviction get in the way of good, mutually beneficial friendship.

“We’re really good friends,” Tyson said of Trump early this year. “We go back to ’86, ’87. Most of my successful and best fights were at Trump’s hotels. He didn’t manage me, though. He was just helping me with my court case.”

“We’re the same guy,” Tyson continued. “A thrust for power, a drive for power. Whatever field we’re in, we need power in that field. That’s just who we are.”