Trump belittles accusers as unattractive, as more come forward
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump mocked Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of putting his hand up her skirt on an airplane decades ago during a rally in Greensboro, N.C. (The Washington Post)
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Donald Trump hurled personal insults Friday at the growing number of women who have accused him of groping and kissing them without their consent, labeling them as “horrible,” “sick” and “phony,” and suggesting that at least two of them were not attractive enough to warrant his attention.
As Trump spoke about the allegations, supporters who gathered to see him at an afternoon rally here cheered him on, at one point chanting “Lock her up!” while he was talking about one of the accusers — a slogan usually reserved for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. At another point, he also appeared to disparage Clinton’s looks in recounting their encounter at Sunday’s presidential debate: “And when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”
The vitriol provided further evidence of Trump’s intention to wage an unprecedented scorched-earth campaign in the final 3½ weeks before Election Day that seems likely to leave few unscarred in either party. It also came on a day when two more women stepped forward to accuse Trump of groping them without their consent and as new videotapes emerged of Trump speaking in crude terms about sex on “The Howard Stern Show.”
Campaigning for Clinton in Cleveland, President Obama mocked Trump for alleging that there was a global conspiracy against him and again scolded Republicans for tolerating Trump’s offensive behavior toward women and others.
“He doesn’t have the temperament, he doesn’t have the knowledge, he doesn’t seem to have the interest in acquiring the knowledge or the basic honesty that a president needs to have,” Obama said. “And that was true before we heard him talking about how he treats women.”
Speaking to Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty via a telephone earpiece, Kristin Anderson recalls Donald Trump groping her while she was sitting next to him at the China Club in New York in the early 1990s. (Alice Li, Brian Young/The Washington Post)
At the Greensboro rally, Trump sought to belittle Jessica Leeds — who first told the New York Times that Trump groped her and tried to reach up her skirt on a flight more than three decades ago — by suggesting that she was not attractive enough for him to pursue.
“‘I was sitting with him on an airplane, and he went after me on the plane,’” Trump said, mockingly impersonating Leeds. “Yeah, I’m gonna go after — believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”
Trump also called another accuser, former People Magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, a “liar” and added, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.” The crowd laughed.
Stoynoff accused Trump of kissing her without permission in 2005 as she prepared to interview him and his wife, Melania, for a story.
Trump also continued criticizing the Times, which first reported the allegations of Leeds and another woman. The GOP nominee, who has often directed his anti-immigrant rhetoric at Mexicans, accused Times reporters of being “corporate lobbyists” for Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the largest shareholder at the paper.
“Now Carlos Slim, as you know, comes from Mexico. He’s given many millions of dollars to the Clintons and their initiatives. So Carlos Slim, largest owner of the paper, from Mexico,” said Trump.
The wave of groping allegations has come in the wake of a 2005 videopublished last week by The Washington Post showing Trump boasting in crude and profane terms about forcing himself on women sexually. After casting the comments as mere “locker-room talk” and saying he had never groped a woman against her will, a half-dozen women have come forward to claim otherwise.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kissed and groped her without her consent when she approached him about a job in 2007. (Reuters)
In a report published Friday, Kristin Anderson told The Post that Trump slid his hand under her miniskirt at a New York night spot in the early 1990s, touching her vagina through her underwear.
Trump appeared to reference the allegation at the North Carolina rally, saying: “One came out recently where I was sitting alone in some club. I really don’t sit alone that much. Honestly, folks, I don’t think I sit alone.” Anderson never told The Post that Trump was alone.
He continued: “And then I went whaa-,” as he abruptly reached to the side with his right hand, apparently mimicking groping.
Also Friday, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the reality show “The Apprentice,” accused Trump of aggressively kissing her and groping her breasts during a 2007 meeting to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization.
Zervos, who appeared on the show in 2006 and now owns a California restaurant, spoke about the incident at a news conference alongside civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred. At times tearing up, Zervos said the incident occurred at Trump’s bungalow suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which she visited after he suggested that the two have dinner.
In a written statement, Trump said that he “vaguely” recalled Zervos as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and that “I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago.”
In the same statement, Trump said, “In the coming days I plan on addressing our nation in a more personal way to present my vision for how together we fight to bring back American jobs and defend our country against radical Islamic terrorism.”
The GOP nominee has alleged, without evidence, that the accusers who emerged this week were working in league with the Clinton campaign and the news media in a conspiracy to undermine his campaign. He also expressed bewilderment that nobody has made accusations of sexual assault against Obama.
“Why doesn’t some woman maybe come up and say what they say falsely about me, they could say it about him. They could say it about anybody. They could say it about anybody. I’ll tell you what, he better be careful, because they could say it about anybody,” Trump said.
Trump said his close associates are advising him not to talk about the mounting allegations of unwanted sexual advances and instead focus on policy issues.
“My people always say: ‘Oh, don’t talk about it. Talk about jobs. Talk about the economy,’” Trump said, but he added, “I feel I have to talk about them because you have to dispute when somebody says something.”
Trump’s decision to sharply attack his female accusers complicates his own campaign’s decision to relitigate past allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton and to allege that Hillary Clinton helped undermine the accusers; the former president has denied wrongdoing in the cases.
The presidential campaign’s rapidly deteriorating tenor — and Trump’s worsening slide in the polls — are also causing heartburn for other Republicans, who are increasingly working to distance themselves from the GOP nominee.
In an address in his home state on Friday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) attacked Clinton and framed the presidential election as a stark choice between liberal and conservative values — without once mentioning Trump.
Ryan, who said Monday that he would no longer campaign with or defend Trump, acknowledged the election has taken “some dark — sometimes very dark — turns” without addressing the details. Instead, he argued for the value of conservative leadership in Congress.
“Beneath all the ugliness lies a long-running debate between two governing philosophies: one that is in keeping with our nation’s founding principles — like freedom and equality — and another that seeks to replace them,” Ryan said.
The speech was followed by a moderated question-and-answer session with college Republicans in attendance. None of the students who were called on by the moderator asked Ryan about Trump.
There is widespread worry throughout the Republican Party that Trump’s tumultuous campaign will rock down-ballot races, resulting in increasing focus on Congress. The Republican National Committee said Friday that it had transferred $4.5 million to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $1.85 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee, a move that it said was backed by the Trump campaign.
Clinton, who headed to Seattle to raise money Friday, plans to directly address the claims of sexual assault and other impropriety by Trump, suggesting that the issue will be prominent in the final presidential debate on Wednesday.
“I think you should expect to see her do this,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters aboard Clinton’s plane. She declined to be more specific.
Palmieri also slammed Trump for repeating conspiracies “from the furthest right, most disturbing elements of the [Republican] Party.”
Clinton will spend time preparing for the debate in Las Vegas in much the same way she has prepared for the previous two, Palmieri said. The session is the “last, biggest audience” before Election Day, she said.
In Cleveland, at a rally in front of about 2,500 people at a regional airport Friday, Obama told the enthusiastic crowd that it needed to push hard to elect Clinton or risk losing “everything” Democrats had worked for over the past eight years.
“Donald Trump’s closing argument is, ‘What do you have to lose?’ ” he told the audience, echoing a phrase Trump often uses. “The answer is everything.”
New details about Trump’s history of lewd comments about womenemerged Friday as The Post reported on six recordings it obtained of interviews Trump did on Stern’s radio show between 2002 and 2013. Some of the recordings were described in part in previous news reports.
In a 2004 clip, Trump and Stern talk about the then-teenage actress Lindsay Lohan — and the impact of her father’s troubles on her.
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“Can you imagine the sex with this troubled [woman]?” Stern asks.
“You’re probably right. She’s probably deeply troubled, and therefore great in bed,” Trump responds. “How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they’re always the best in bed?”
“You don’t want to be with them for the long term,” Trump says, concluding this thought. “But for the short term, there’s nothing like it.”
Asked for comment Friday, Lohan’s spokesman Hunter Frederick said in a statement, “Right now, Lindsay is choosing to focus on the positive things happening in her life and has decided to disregard the comments made about her by Presidential nominee Donald Trump.”
Sullivan reported from Washington. Juliet Eilperin in Cleveland, Anne Gearan in Seattle, and Kelsey Snell, David A. Fahrenthold, Rosalind S. Helderman, Karen Tumulty and Matea Gold in Washington contributed to this report.