Days after Donald Trump stood on a presidential debate stage and denied that he had ever sexually assaulted a woman in the way that he vividly described in a leaked videotape from 2005, no fewer than five women have gone public accusing the Republican presidential nominee of groping them, and worse.
The accusations sent the Trump campaign into a whirl of categorical denials and threats. In a conversation with a reporter from the New York Times about two women who accused him sexually touching them without their consent, Trump told a reporter, “You are a disgusting human being.”
In response to the ensuing story an attorney representing Trump sent a letter threatening legal action unless the paper ceased publishing the article, removed it from its website and issued a “full and immediate retraction and apology.”
Attorney Marc E. Kasowitz attempted to cast doubt on the stories of the two women quoted by the Times, Rebecca Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who related encounters with Mr. Trump dating back to the 1970s and 2005, respectively. Calling the stories “false and defamatory” he questioned why the two women waited so many years to go public with their accusations.
“Clearly, The New York Times is willing to provide a platform to anyone wishing to smear Mr. Trump’s name and reputation prior to the election irrespective of whether the alleged statements have any basis in fact,” he wrote.
However, even as Trump was fighting back against The Times piece, other claims were piling up. People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff published a lurid first-person account of her experience interviewing Trump and his wife, Melania, on the occasion of their first anniversary. With his wife out of the room, Stoynoff contends, Trump forcibly grabbed and kissed her, assured her that the two of them would have an affair and bragged about his sexual prowess.
Another woman told the Palm Beach Post that while she was working at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the GOP candidate grabbed her buttocks. A fifth woman, who was a contestant in one of the beauty pageants that Trump has run over the years, reported similar behavior as well as pleas from Trump to come back to his hotel room with her.
Also on Wednesday, multiple former beauty pageant contestants reported that Mr. Trump was in the habit of entering the pageant dressing room at times when they were changing their clothes. Some of the contestants in the pageants in question were as young as 15.
The Trump campaign has issued categorical denials of all of the accusations, calling the cascade of claims a “pile-on” aimed at damaging his reputation in the weeks heading into the general election.
However, the Hillary Clinton campaign contended that the claims are further proof that previous claims about Trump’s inappropriate behavior deserved credibility.
“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement. “These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words.”