Three women accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them without their consent in news reports published Wednesday, just days after the Republican presidential nominee insisted in a debate that he had never engaged in such behavior.
One of the women alleges that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight more than three decades ago, the New York Times reported. The other says he kissed her on the mouth outside an elevator in 2005, according to the same report. A third woman said Trump groped her rear end at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Trump denied the first two allegations in an interview with the Times. In a statement issued by his campaign after the report was published, spokesman Jason Miller said, “This entire article is fiction.” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Palm Beach Post “there is no truth” to the third allegation.
But in each instance, the newspapers spoke to people close to the women — a universe that includes friends, family members, significant others and colleagues — who verified that they told them their stories about what they say happened months or years ago.
The news came five days after The Washington Post reported Friday on a 2005 video in which Trump can be heard making vulgar comments on a hot microphone about physically forcing himself on women sexually.
At Sunday’s debate, Trump was asked by a moderator whether he had ever behaved in such a way.
“No, I have not,” he responded.
Jessica Leeds, 74, told the Times that she sat beside Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York when she was 38. She didn’t know him. Leeds said Trump groped her and tried to reach up her skirt. “His hands were everywhere,” she said.
The second woman, Rachel Crooks, was at the time 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate company in Trump Tower who said she came face to face with Trump outside an elevator there in 2005. She said that after she introduced herself to Trump and they shook hands, he would not let go, then kissed her cheeks and “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
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“I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” she said.
Days later, Trump, then recently married to his wife Melania, came to her office and requested her phone number, saying he planned to give it to his modeling agency. Crooks was skeptical, but agreed. She was never contacted by the agency, the Times reported.
Neither Crooks nor Leeds reported their descriptions to the authorities. But the Times quotes Leeds’s neighbor, Crooks’s boyfriend at the time and her sister, each of whom said that the women previously told them about their alleged encounters with Trump.
Both Leeds and Crooks say they support Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, the Times reported.
Mindy McGillivray, 36, told the Palm Beach Post that Trump groped her read end at Mar-a-Lago in 2003 when she was there accompanying a photographer friend who was photographing a Ray Charles concert.
“All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge. I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct. I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned,” she said.
“Ken” is Ken Davidoff, the photographer, with whom the paper also spoke. Davidoff said he did not witness the alleged incident but recalled that McGillivray told him about it right after it happened.
In a Tuesday phone interview with the Times, Trump denied the claims made by Leeds and Crooks.
“None of this ever took place,” he said. As a reporter questioned him about the women’s claims, he told her: “You are a disgusting human being,” according to the Times.
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Miller, in his statement, accused the Times of a “completely false, coordinated character assassination” against Trump. He called it a “political attack.”
In the video reported by The Post on Friday, Trump says he is “automatically attracted” to beautiful women, and “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
He adds: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently that of Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood.”
“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”