(Joshua Paladino, Headline USA) Former President Donald Trump reposted a meme on Truth Social that accuses Ron DeSantis of having groomed high school students while he was a teacher in the early 2000s, but the Florida governor brushed aside the attack.
At a press conference where he announced a $2 billion tax cut, the largest in Florida’s history, a reporter asked DeSantis about Trump reposting the claim that he was “having drinks with underage girls and cuddling with them.”
DeSantis blamed the reporter, not Trump, for sparking the controversy, though the 45th president posted about it multiple times.
Trump going heavy on the “DeSantis is a pedophile” stuff today. pic.twitter.com/LS2zRpke3z
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 7, 2023
The original claim came from a 2021 article written by HillReporter.com that relied upon an anonymous source. No other news organization has verified the picture’s connection to its purported claims of ephebophilia, or the sexual attraction to pubescent adolescents.
HillReporter.com is a far-left newspaper that receives its funding from MeidasTouch, a SuperPAC that organized in 2020 to oppose Trump’s reelection.
The New York Times reported in 2021 that former students called DeSantis a “a frequent presence at parties” while he was a teacher in his early 20s at Darlington School, a boarding school in Georgia.
DeSantis said he would not pursue defamation charges for Trump’s accusations, arguing that politicians and those with large and effective platforms do not need the same help as ordinary people when dealing with defamation.
“It just goes with the territory,” he said. “You gotta have thick skin. Practically speaking, I would not take time out of being governor to be fighting lawsuits.”