After a stomach-churning six-week defamation trial in which actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp lobbed horrifying allegations of domestic and sexual abuse against each other, a jury ruled in favor of Depp, ordering her to pay millions in damages for having defamed him in a 2018 op-ed. Mere minutes after the verdict was announced, Republicans on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee tweeted a gif of Depp from his movie Pirates of the Caribbean from their official account, seemingly in support of the actor.
Yes, elected members of the Judiciary Committee—which oversees the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and weighs in on some of the most important issues facing the country—took a very clear side in a celebrity trial in which the man who won (regardless of the merits on the defamation issue) admitted to having sent a friend the following texts about Heard:
She also accused him of having sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle.
Of course, Depp made some disturbing claims about Heard too, including that she severed his finger and defecated on his bed. Regardless of what happened or what the jury decided here, it’s wildly inappropriate and disgusting for a Congressional committee to gloat about the outcome of the trial with a pirate gif, or really to weigh in at all! And of course, had Heard won the trial and not Depp, the GOP would almost certainly have stayed quiet.
The verdict of this very public trial gives people fuel to call all women liars when they speak out about sexual assault or domestic abuse. It will almost certainly enable more abuse, as journalist David Rothkopf noted:
Heard may have defamed Depp, she may have acted with malice, she may have made false statements—the jury concluded she did. But nothing about this decision cleared Depp of wrongdoing; he’s behaved in unequivocally disgusting ways, as well. Republicans using an official account to tweet in support of him after everything we’ve seen in this sickening trial is nothing short of misogyny.