USA TODAY - Several women say Donald Trump lied during the second presidential debate when he said that he never groped women in the manner he described on a 2005 recording, according to reports published Wednesday by The New York Times, People and the Palm Beach Post.
On the 2005 tape, Trump tells Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that when he sees attractive women, "I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
But, he has repeatedly dismissed the remarks as "locker room talk." When asked during Sunday's debate if had ever actually done what he described in the tape, Trump said, "No, I have not."
At least five women have now contradicted that denial with stories of aggressive sexual advances. One woman says Trump grabbed her breast and put his hand up her skirt on a flight three decades ago. Two other women say Trump kissed them on the mouth at their first meeting. Another says Trump grabbed her butt at a 2003 event at his Mar-a-Lago estate. And a reporter for People says Trump forcibly kissed her before an interview in 2005.
The Trump campaign has denied the reports and threatened legal action against The New York Times. A letter to Dean Baquet, The Times executive editor, from attorney Marc Kasowitz was posted on the campaign's website demanding the paper retract the story. The letter calls the article "politically motivated," "reckless," "defamatory" and "libelous."
Jessica Leeds, a 74-year-old Manhattan resident, told The Times Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight to New York more than thirty years ago.
“He was like an octopus,” said Leeds, who was 38 at the time of the alleged incident. “His hands were everywhere.”
Leeds says she moved from the first-class cabin to the back of the plane after Trump's unwelcome advances. “It was an assault,” she said.
Rachel Crooks told The Times that Trump forcibly kissed her when she met him outside a Trump Tower elevator in 2005. She was a 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate investment firm at the time.
"Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks." The Times reported. Then, he “kissed me directly on the mouth,” Crooks told The Times.
“It was so inappropriate,” Crooks told The Times. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People, says Trump forcibly grabbed her and kissed her when she visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2005 to interview him and his new wife, Melania, on their first wedding anniversary.
Trump invited Stoynoff on a tour of the estate and led her into a room where he shut the door behind them, according to Stoynoff.
"I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat," Stoynoff wrote in People.
"He was fast, taking me by surprise, and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself," she wrote.
Stoynoff said she tried to be professional and carry on with the interview. As they waited for Melania, Trump leaned forward and said, "You know we're going to have an affair, don't you?" according to Stoynoff. “Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you,"
A Trump spokeswoman told People that Stoynoff's account has "no merit or veracity" and called it a "fabricated story."
Mindy McGillivray, now 36, told the Palm Beach Post that Trump grabbed her butt at Mar-a-Lago in 2003 when she was assisting her friend, Ken Davidoff, who was working there as a photographer.
McGillivray chose to remain quiet and not make a scene, the Post reports. But Davidoff said he vividly remembers McGillivray telling him, ‘’Donald just grabbed my ass!’’ after the alleged incident, according to the report.
Temple Taggart was a 21-year-old Miss Utah when Trump introduced himself to her with a kiss on the mouth, according to The Times.
“He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought: ‘Oh, my gosh. Gross,’" Taggart said, according to The Times. "He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”
When The Times reporter questioned Trump about Wednesday's report, he shouted, “None of this ever took place,” according to The Times. He accused the publication of making up the story to hurt his campaign and threatened to sue the paper if they published it.
“You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter, according to The Times.
When asked if he had ever groped women like he said in the 2005 recording, Trump said, "I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”
"This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous," Trump communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement Wednesday. "To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election."
Miller called it "absurd" that "one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women" would have committed the acts described in The Times story. Miller called the story "nothing more than a political attack" and said this "is a sad day for the Times."
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said, "The disturbing story fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women. The report suggests that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words."
None of the women ever reported the alleged incidents to the authorities, although they did tell their stories to friends and family, according to the reports. Leeds said she did not complain about the incident on the flight because of the culture of the time.
"We accepted it for years,” she told The Times. “We were taught it was our fault.”
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