It's now clear that of everything Hillary Clinton said in Monday's debate, the facts regarding Trump's treatment of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado stung the most.
Not only because it came from a Latina and a former employee, but because there was undeniable video and audio documentation of Trump doing exactly what Clinton said he did.
So of course the smear campaign against Machado began, starting with smarmy right-wing bloggers like Jim Hoft, and flowing out to Twitter, courtesy of Mickey Kaus and a few reporters.
The smear is this. In 1998, Machado was accused by a judge of calling and making threats on his life. It appears to be something that actually didn't happen, or if there were words exchanged, they were words not worthy of prosecution. No charges were ever filed. That's critical to this story.
On cable television, Kayleigh McEnany didn't care about the lack of charges. Her job is to defend Trump, so launched the first salvo to smear Machado.
"When you fact check this woman Alicia Machado, ex-Miss Universe accused of threats," she recited from her script on her iPad. "This woman called him and set threatened to end his career and life in February 1998. This is a he said, she said."
Panelist Maria Cardona shot back, "It's actually not."
After much back and forth about whether calling Machado an "eating machine" is really fat-shaming (it is), McEnany tried to bring it back around to the smear again, where Anderson Cooper laid the smear to rest by pointing out that no action was taken on the accusation, she was never charged, she was never tried, and anyone can accuse anyone of anything.
He's absolutely right, so let's focus on what's really important here.
We have Donald Trump on video fat-shaming his employee, Alicia Machado. And she was his employee for as long as she held the title of Miss Universe. When he made her work out in front of a media scrum, he was fat-shaming her. Here's a nice collection:
20 years after Donald bullied a beauty pageant winner for her weight, the real "problem" is...still Donald. pic.twitter.com/ZmqYWuN9px
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 28, 2016
This is harassment. Workplace harassment. Sexual harassment. It caused Machado to suffer from eating disorders for years afterward.
Kayleigh McEnany can spin all she wants about unfounded accusations. The right wing smearosphere can try their best to game Twitter and Facebook with claims she is somehow not credible because she was accused of a thing which was never charged, tried or proven.
What they cannot do is change the fact that their nominee harassed his Latina employee over and over again for not looking like an anorexic runway model. Nothing has changed in all of these years. He is still harassing her, this time by proxy, thanks to Kayleigh McEnany and his army of smear mongers at the ready, with smarmy opposition material supplied by advisers Roger Stone or Roger Ailes.
This is also your daily reminder that Trump's cadre of surrogates is filled with, to say the least, sketchy types.
Most importantly, this really displays the character of Trump and those running his campaign. If they can't counter the truth, they'll just try and distract everyone with some meaningless lies.
Whatever Ms. Machado may or may not have done, it is indisputable that Trump abused his power as her employer to humiliate her.
If elected, there is no reason to believe he wouldn't abuse his power to settle every imagined grudge, proving yet again that he can never, ever be given that power.