With the Podesta email leaks now a daily feature providing further insights into the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, and with the shock over the Trump Tapes fading, a new distraction had to emerge to keep the public distracted, and sure enough, it happened last night when several women came forward to allege they had been groped or forcibly kissed by Donald Trump, as far back as thirty six years ago.
In the first allegation, two women told the New York Times in a story published Wednesday that Trump kissed or groped them.
One of the women, Jessica Leeds, now 74, told the publication she was seated next to the Republican nominee during a flight to New York more than three decades ago. She, then 38, had been moved up from coach to first class. About 45 minutes after the flight took off, Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt, she said. The two had never met before. “He was like an octopus,” she told the Times. “His hands were everywhere” she said. "It was an assault." Oddly enough while she didn't report the incident to the airline staff after moving back to coach, according to the publication, but she did share the story with people close to her.
Another woman, Rachel Crooks, told The Times she met Trump in 2005 when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a company in Trump Tower in Manhattan. She introduced herself to Trump outside an elevator and shook his hand. Trump wouldn't let go and then began kissing her on the cheeks, and then he "kissed me directly on the mouth," she told the Times. “It was so inappropriate,” Crooks said. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
As expected, the Trump campaign quickly put out a statement denying the reports, calling the entire article "a completely false, coordinated character assassination" that "trivializes sexual assault."
"It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.
The two stories, which have never been made public before, come after the release of a 2005 tape in which the GOP nominee was heard making lewd comments about women. The GOP nominee brushed off his comments as locker room talk. During Sunday night's presidential debate, he denied he had ever done the things he talked about.
In an interview with the Times Tuesday night, the GOP nominee denied both Leeds's and Crooks's stories and accused the publication of making the accounts up. “None of this ever took place,” Trump said, threatening to sue the publication if the paper reported the women's stories. “You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter.
"you're a disgusting human being," trump told me when i asked about claims that he touched women inappropriately:"https://t.co/naHweclUo0— megan twohey (@mega2e) October 12, 2016
Trump also repeated that he had never groped or kissed a woman without consent. "I don't do it. i don't do it. It was locker room talk," Trump said.
Suggesting there may be a political element to the story, both Leeds and Crooks said they support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and Crooks has given less than $200 to Clinton and President Obama. In its statement, the Trump campaign points to this fact, and its low placement in the story, to claim the story is "nothing more than a political attack."
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Other women have also since shared past incidents with Trump. Former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff said that in December 2005 she was touring his Mar-a-Lago resort with Trump and his then-pregnant wife Melania. When Melania stepped away, she claims, Trump shoved her up against the wall and started trying to kiss her until his butler walked into the room.
"We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat," she said. She also said Trump told her they were going to have an affair, and when she showed up late to a massage appointment at the resort the next day, she was told Trump had been waiting for her there.
A Trump spokesperson told People, "There is no merit or veracity to this fictional story." Questioning why it wouldn't have been reported at the time, the spokesperson said the account was part of a "politically motivated fictional pile-on."
Another woman, Mindy McGillivray, said she had been groped by the GOP nominee 13 years ago at the Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach Post reported. She didn't report the incident to authorities.
Meanwhile, assuring that the media will be transfixed by this story and ignore the Wikileaks emails, the Trump campaign said that it’s going to sue the New York Times over the story.
Late Wednesday night, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz fired off a letter to Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet demanding the retraction of the story. He accused the Times of inadequately investigating the stories and drew attention to the time that’s elapsed since the alleged attacks took place, in one case 11 years ago, and the other, over 30 years ago. Kasowitz also threatened to sue the Times over its release of some of Trump’s tax records a few weeks ago.
The New York Times issued the following statement in response to the claim:
“Prior to publication, we did hear from representatives for Donald Trump demanding that The Times refrain from publishing and accusing our reporter of dishonest journalism. We responded by publishing our story,” New York Times SVP of communications Eileen Murphy said in a statement.
As the Washington Examiner adds, Trump's campaign was drafting a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times late Wednesday night, hours after the news organization published a story in which two women accused the Republican presidential nominee of sexual assault, sources confirmed to the Washington Examiner. Within hours of threatening to take legal action against the major publication for launching a "completely false, coordinated character assassination against" him, Trump had requested that his attorneys draft a major lawsuit against the Times.
"This is war," said one campaign insider with knowledge of the situation. The same source accused the Times and other mainstream media outlets of "working hand in hand" with Hillary Clinton's campaign to sabotage Trump in the final month before the election.
"We're coming at them strong and everybody better have a good lawyer," the source said.
On at least one previous occasion, the NYT has been forced to retract a smearing piece, when in 2009 it retracted a similar piece against then republican candidate John McCain, however not long after the presidential race was over.