Trump Attacks Female Accusers; Blames Clintons, Press
Donald Trump responded Thursday to new allegations of sexual assault and harassment with a full-bore attack on the women who made the accusations and journalists for reporting on them.
The GOP nominee denied the claims and called them attacks “orchestrated by the Clintons.”
During a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., near the site of his Mar-a-Lago resort where one of the alleged assaults took place, Trump defended himself by telling the audience to “take a look at these people, and you study these people and you’ll understand.”
Trump said he would soon put forth “substantial evidence to refute these claims,” but neither he nor his campaign have detailed what that evidence would be.
The GOP nominee also recounted the accusations made against him, including the account of Jessica Leeds, who told the New York Times in a story published Wednesday night that Trump had groped her on an airplane three decades ago. He also challenged the assertions of Natasha Stoynoff, who said on the People magazine website that Trump pushed her against a wall and kissed her at Mar-a-Lago when she was interviewing him and his pregnant wife, Melania, for a People story in 2005. On Thursday, Trump accused Stoynoff of fabricating the story because she did not publically report it at the time. “I was one of the biggest stars on television,” he said, referring to his show “The Apprentice.” “It would have been the biggest story of the year.”
“Take a look, look at her,” he said of Stoynoff. “Look at her words. You tell me what you think.”
Meanwhile, shortly before Trump spoke, first lady Michelle Obama accused the GOP nominee of sexually predatory behavorior at a Clinton rally in New Hampshire.
“This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV,” she said. “And to make matters worse, it now sees very clear that this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life."
She did not mention him by name and Trump did not mention her in his remarks.
The latest revelations about the GOP nominee come nearly one week after the release of an “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump making lewd comments about women. The tape sent shockwaves through the presidential campaign, and caused a wave of Republicans to rescind their endorsements of their party’s nominee. Trump responded at Sunday’s debate by showcasing four women who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault. (Trump was scheduled to appear with the women Thursday night on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, but canceled.) Trump began to see some endorsements come back after his debate performance. But the news Thursday could trigger more defections, along with more allegations.
Leeds told the New York Times that she felt compelled to come forward after she watched Trump deny on the debate stage that he had sexually assaulted anyone. Stoynoff said similarly that she decided to publish her account after watching the debate.
Trump is threatening to sue the New York Times, and his lawyers sent a letter to the publication demanding that it rescind its story and accusing the reporters of libel. The New York Times’ assistant general counsel, David McCraw, said the paper refused to withdraw the story and dismissed the libel claim.
“Mr. Trump has bragged about this non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a ‘piece of ass.’ Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances,” he wrote. “Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”
During the rally on Thursday, Trump accused the media of having a political agenda, “and their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost at any price no matter how many lives they destroy.”
He accused the Clinton campaign of conspiring against him, noting that the new revelations came as WikiLeaks was publishing more hacked emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
“These attacks are orchestrated by the Clintons. The only thing Clinton has going for herself is the press. Without the press, she is absolutely zero,” he said. “This is not presidential material, believe me.”