A New York Times report profiling two more women who are accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault once again seems to contradict the Trump campaign, their surrogates, and supporters in the media who have excused as “just words” 2005 comments made by the Republican nominee bragging about sexual assault.
After NBC released a tape of Trump gloating about “grabbing” a woman and being able to “do anything,” the candidate dismissed his remarks as “locker room talk.” In the days following, numerous right-wing media figures echoed the candidate’s excuse -- claiming there is a big difference between words and actions -- in an apparent attempt to bolster Trump’s assertion that he had never committed the sexual assault he boasted about.
The October 12 report seemingly contradicts Trump’s explanation, as two women said the candidate “touched them inappropriately.” One woman claimed that on a plane in adjoining first class seats, Trump “grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt,” while a second woman, a 22-year old receptionist at the time, alleged that outside a Trump Tower elevator, after encountering the nominee “They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.” In a separate October 12 Palm Beach Post report, a third woman said she was “groped” by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago. The Trump campaign denied the Times report, calling it “fiction.” From the October 12 New York Times report:
Donald J. Trump was emphatic in the second presidential debate: Yes, he had boasted about kissing women without permission and grabbing their genitals. But he had never actually done those things, he said.
“No,” he declared under questioning on Sunday evening, “I have not.”
At that moment, sitting at home in Manhattan, Jessica Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview in her apartment.
More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before.
About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.
According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
In a phone interview on Tuesday night, a highly agitated Mr. Trump denied every one of the women’s claims.
“None of this ever took place,” said Mr. Trump, who began shouting at The Times reporter who was questioning him. He said that The Times was making up the allegations to hurt him and that he would sue the news organization if it reported them.
“You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter as she questioned him about the women’s claims.
Asked whether he had ever done any of the kissing or groping that he had described on the recording, Mr. Trump was once again insistent: “I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”
Echoing Trump’s talking point about the 2005 tape, Fox News hosts have repeatedly defended the Republican presidential nominee by downplaying his comment as “just words.” Fox’s Bill O’Reilly dismissed Trump’s admission of sexual assault as “guy talk,” while Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called Trump’s comments “locker room talk” and “frat house language.” Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said those upset by Trump’s comments are “acting like a bunch of prudes” because Trump is “not the only person to eve speak this way” and Fox’s Howard Kurtz called the media’s response “manufactured outrage.”
Trump and his campaign have denied the new allegations and have reportedly threatened to sue the Times for publishing their story about the new sexual assault accusations.