Donald Trump is denying allegations that he inappropriately touched several women.
USA TODAY NETWORK
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump denied claims Thursday from an increasing number of women who say the Republican presidential nominee inappropriately touched, groped, and kissed them without their consent.
“The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on woman. WATCH!” Trump tweeted Thursday.
The New York Times story published Wednesday night on two women who said Trump forced himself upon them — one on an airplane more than three decades ago and another at Trump Tower in 2005 — was one in a series of reports from women who accused the GOP presidential nominee of inappropriate behavior in years past.
People magazine published an account from a former writer who said Trump shoved her against a wall and tried to kiss her during a break in an interview for a story about the first anniversary of his marriage to Melania Trump.
“During the presidential debate, Donald Trump lied about kissing women without their consent,” Natasha Stoynoff wrote. “I should know. His actions made me feel bad for a very long time. They still do.”
Trump also denied that account, tweeting: “Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story. Because it did not happen!”
Jess Cagle, the editor-in-chief for People, said Stoynoff believed it “her duty” to step forward, and “to assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again.”
Among other allegations against Trump: Beauty pageant contestants who say he walked into their dressing rooms unannounced, including Miss Teen USA participants as young as 15; a woman named Mindy McGillivray, who told the Palm Beach Post that Trump grabbed her backside during an event at Mar-a-Lago in 2003; and a former Miss Washington who said Trump groped her and invited her to his hotel room.
Jessica Ditto, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement that the charges “have no merit and have already been disproven by many other individuals who were present.”
“When you see questionable attacks like this magically put out there in the final month of a presidential campaign, you have to ask yourself what the political motivations really are and why the media is pushing it,” she said, adding that Trump “has a fantastic record of empowering women throughout his career.”
The flurry of accusations came in the wake of a Sunday debate against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in which Trump denied he had ever groped women.
That question came in response to the release of a tape, outtakes from the program Access Hollywood, in which Trump said he could force himself on women because he is a celebrity.
The allegations also surface amid polls showing Trump falling further behind Clinton, both nationally and in key battleground states.
Trump has reacted, in part, by reviving allegations against former president Bill Clinton. His guests at Sunday’s debate included three women who have accused Clinton of various sexual assaults and harassment over the years.
Trump’s team responded to The New York Times story with a demand for a retraction and a lawsuit threat.
Claiming the story constitutes “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se,” Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz said in a letter that The Times is engaged in “a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”
Times editor Dean Baquet told CNN: “I think it is pretty evident this story falls clearly in the realm of public service journalism, and discussing issues that arose from the tape and his comments since it surfaced.”
So far, some of Trump’s financial backers say they will stay the course.
Officials with Make America Number 1, a super PAC funded by billionaire hedge-funder Robert Mercer, said they plan to continue their anti-Clinton digital and television advertising campaign, which is aimed at reaching several demographic groups, including women and the voters who backed Trump in the primaries.
“We’ve got to get the base ginned up and turned out,” said Hogan Gidley, the group’s spokesman.
Billionaire Minnesota broadcaster Stanley Hubbard reluctantly backed Trump once the New York businessman won the nomination and has made a six-figure donation to support him.
On Thursday, he called Trump a “jerk” but said he wants to give Trump, rather than Clinton, the power to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court and elsewhere on the federal bench.
“He’s a liar and a cheat but so is she, and one of them is going to be president,” Hubbard said.
Contributing: Fredreka Schouten
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