It was during the darkest days of Amanda Knox’s life that Donald Trump had publicly supported her.
Long before he became president, Mr Trump had defended Ms Knox, donated to her cause and urged other Americans to boycott Italy until she was cleared in the murder of her roommate in Perugia.
But after Mr Trump entered the political arena — after Ms Knox was acquitted by Italy’s highest court and freed, for good, from Capanne prison — he reportedly became “very upset” that she had not supported him in return.In fact, in a series of columns leading up to the election, Ms Knox had criticised Mr Trump’s policies and joined the opposition, pledging her support for Hillary Clinton.
Ms Knox believed she owed him a thank-you — but nothing more.
“Do I owe him my loyalty?” Ms Knox has asked.
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, the 29-year-old wrote that she has been drowning in backlash from Trump supporters, who have sent her a clear message: “Trump defended me in the past; how dare I not defend him now? Never mind that Trump doesn’t share my values. If I won’t endorse him, at the very least I should keep my ‘left-wing lunacies’ to myself,” she wrote.
Her words come a decade after Ms Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher, was killed in the Italian university town of Perugia.
Ms Knox was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 25 years in prison. In 2011, an appeals court acquitted Ms Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and she returned to the United States. Two years later, though, the country’s supreme court reversed those acquittals and an appeals court opened a third trial. The pair was re-convicted and sentenced to serve more than 20 years in prison each — before Italy’s highest court finally ended the long, high-profile saga by overturning the conviction in March 2015.
Through it all, Mr Trump had her back.
He reportedly asked his friend and neighbour, real estate investor George “Guido” Lombardi, to look into the case while travelling in Italy.
After the first appeals court tossed her murder conviction in 2011, Mr Trump told Greta Van Susteren that he had helped Ms Knox’s family.
“I felt very, very badly for that family and for her,” he said at the time. “I never thought she did it. I watched very intently, like everybody else, and there was just no way she was involved in that.
“And so I did help them out. I feel very, very happy about it. In fact, I said boycott Italy until they release her. It was really an injustice. And I would get on that plane so fast if I were her and get out.”
“The whole thing was a tragedy for the families and for everybody,” Mr Trump replied, “but Amanda did not do it.”
He told CNN: “I’ve been supporting the family and helping the family and I’ll continue to help the family. They went through a lot; I just felt badly. For her to spend four years in a terrible jail is just outrageous.”
“You’ll see her some place,” he said. “She’s a great person, and what happened to her was absolutely outrageous.”
Ms Knox wrote in her op-ed on Thursday that Mr Trump’s supporters “felt that I owed Trump my allegiance and were outraged at columns I wrote in which I criticised his policies and explained my reasons for endorsing Hillary Clinton.
“One person commented: ‘I’m sorry I ever supported you. You have turned into a left wing lunatic. I see your experience in Italy has left you completely ungrateful to be an American. … Donald Trump stood by you, but now you turn around and indirectly attack him? You should be ashamed of yourself.’”
In one such column, published in November, Knox said Trump’s political platform concerned her and questioned why she should be obligated to endorse him.
She wrote at the time:
“In a time when my entire family had already tapped into their retirement savings and taken out second mortgages, we were grateful when any supporters, including Trump, donated to my defense and spoke out about my innocence. And like some of my supporters, Trump had his own ideas and his own way; he called for the U.S. to sanction Italy until they released me — a pronouncement which only amplified anti-American sentiment towards me in the courtroom. Even if Trump means well, his schemes tend to be blunt, selfish, and short-sighted, rather than nuanced, empathetic, and thought through. Back then, when the stakes were highest, my family and I couldn’t afford to be so reckless. Now, at this crucial political juncture, the U.S. has decided to take the Trump chance, and I think our choice is just as blunt, selfish, and short-sighted as Trump himself.”
Ms Knox wrote in her op-ed earlier this week that she has felt the backlash from her stance.
One person, she said, “wrote that, while I needn’t endorse Trump, my criticism of him wasn’t ‘nice.’ ”
Trump apparently wasn’t pleased, either — because when it mattered most to Trump, Knox had gotten behind his rival: According to a recent New York Times profile, Trump’s friend, Mr Lombardi, said the president “is ‘very upset’ with the ingratitude of Ms. Knox, who supported Hillary Clinton.”