Donald Trump on Friday intimated a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her was not attractive enough to have drawn his interest—just as a new accuser was coming forward.
The Republican nominee, spiraling at ever greater velocity into uncharted political territory with more than three weeks left in the election, showed none of the contrition he expressed last weekend for his videotaped admission that his celebrity enables him to get away with sexual assault.
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Explaining that he was ignoring his own advisers, Trump seethed with contempt for the women who’ve claimed he assaulted them. But his rambling, at times incoherent, comments seemed to instantly invalidate two of his defenders’ key talking points: That he regrets past comments judging women by their looks and treats them with respect.
“Believe me, she would not be my first choice—that I can tell you,” he said at a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, referring to Jessica Leeds, a 74-year-old woman who told The New York Times on Wednesday that Trump groped her while the two were seated together on an airplane in the early 1980s. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Leeds said Trump touched her “wherever he could find a landing spot.”
“I kept thinking, maybe the stewardess is going to come and he’ll stop, but she never came,” she recalled of the 15-minute encounter.
Trump responded with derision, mimicking Leeds and dismissing her story. “I was with Trump in 1980. I was sitting with him on an airplane and he went after me on the plane,” the Republican presidential nominee said, using the voice he often deploys to mock people.
He also appeared to allude to the looks of Natasha Stoynoff, the former People magazine reporter who alleged in a first-person account that Trump forcibly kissed her in 2005 at his Mar-a-Lago estate. “She’s a liar,” Trump said of Stoynoff in his Greensboro remarks. “Check out her Facebook page. You’ll understand.”
In the last three days, Trump has been buried beneath accusations of sexual assault from women who have come forth in the wake of a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump is heard boasting about forcibly kissing and groping women with impunity because he’s “a star” and the candidate’s denial during last Sunday’s debate that he ever did what he was bragging about.
In addition to accusations from Leeds and Stoynoff, the Times also reported that a woman named Rachel Crooks claimed that Trump kissed her repeatedly on her cheeks and mouth outside an elevator at Trump Tower in 2005, when Crooks was 22; a woman named Mindy McGillivray told the Palm Beach Post that Trump grouped her butt at Mar-a-Lago in 2003; and five Miss Teen USA pageant contestants told BuzzFeed that Trump would enter the contestants’ dressing rooms while the girls were changing. In “Entertainment Tonight” footage from 1992 that was released by CBS this week, Trump talks to a young girl and tells the camera he’s going to be dating her in 10 years.
In responding to his accusers with such malice and nothing tangible to discredit their allegations, Trump is further ceding the moral high ground to his opponent and recklessly imperiling Republican candidates down the ballot. His campaign now a steady stream of recriminations, Trump continued to cast the blame everywhere but at his own two feet.
“These are lies being pushed by the media and the Clinton campaign to try and keep their grip on our country,” Trump argued. “They are all false. They’re totally invented fiction. All 100 percent totally and completely fabricated. Never met this person, these people. I don’t know who they are.”
He also said the attacks were his critics’ only hope for stopping the success of his political movement.
“When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said ‘I don’t think so,’” Trump told his supporters. “I don’t think so. Whoever she is, wherever she comes from, the stories are total fiction. They are 100 percent made up. They never happened. They never would happen. I don’t think it happened with very many people, but they certainly aren’t gonna happen with me.”
Just as Trump launched into this tirade from the stage in Greensboro, a new accuser was coming forward on the other side of the country. In another surreal cultural experience, one television network covering Trump’s speech, MSNBC, took viewers from a live feed of the rally live to the news conference in Los Angeles where Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant, was describing her own encounter with Trump.
Zervos explained she had reached out to Trump to discuss job opportunities a year after appearing on his show. When she showed up for lunch, Trump kissed her “on the lips,” she said.
When she agreed to meet him days later, Zervos said, she was taken to a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Trump emerged from a back room and again kissed her “open-mouthed, pulling me towards him.” Sitting beside attorney Gloria Allred, Zervos told reporters that she believes she was not offered a job because she denied Trump’s advances.
Her press conference came just a couple hours after the Washington Post reported yet another accuser, a former model with another similar story of Trump reaching under her skirt during an encounter in the early 1990s at a Manhattan club.
“It wasn’t a sexual come-on. I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it, and nothing would happen,” Kristin Anderson, now 46, told the Post. “There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.”
Playing an ugly game of whack a mole, Trump was on stage disputing Anderson’s account, telling supporters that it was untrue because she claimed he was sitting alone in a club, saying “I really don’t sit alone that much.”
“I was sitting alone, like this,” he said, looking lonesome. “And then I went wahh,” he said, sticking out his hand, apparently illustrating how he allegedly reached up her skirt.
“I just heard this one. It’s like — it’s like unbelievable,” he said.
Trump said the media were focusing on the allegations instead of focusing on the WikiLeaks hacks of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
“They’d rather talk about this, somebody that you’ve never seen that said, ‘Oh, in 1992, he went like this,’” Trump said, sticking out his right hand and getting a laugh out of the crowd.
Trump also lashed out at the Times for its Wednesday night story detailing the accusations by Leeds and Crooks and seemingly starting the current storm of victims coming forward. He blamed the newspaper’s negative coverage on billionaire Carlos Slim. “The largest shareholder in the Times is Carlos Slim. Now Carlos Slim comes from Mexico,” Trump told his supporters. “He’s given many millions of dollars to the Clintons and their initiative. So Carlos Slim, the largest owner of the paper, from Mexico.”
“Reporters of the New York Times, they’re not journalists, they’re corporate lobbyists for Carlos Slim and for Hillary Clinton,” he continued.
In blasting the media and dismissing his self-proclaimed victims as “deeply troubled” publicity seekers and insulting their physical appearance—indeed, claiming their imperfect looks as his only plausible alibi—Trump continued his stunning political self-immolation and a dark descent into self-pity. In fact, he appears to have given up on attempting to actually win the election, despite his exhortations to supporters to shock the system by electing him on Nov. 8.
As his humiliation deepens and his personal brand is further tarnished, he seems intent only on degrading American politics and exacting revenge on the media he believes are conspiring to prevent him from winning the White House. Feeling “unshackled” to let loose amid a spate of Republican disavowals and an aggregation of polling showing that he almost certainly will not be president, Trump went beyond criticizing the physical appearances of the women he allegedly came onto and commented on that of Hillary Clinton, whom he apparently took stock of during last Sunday’s debate.
“When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed,” he said.
Pulling back the curtain, Trump told supporters that his campaign advisers had told him not to attack the women criticizing him, saying they told him to ignore the accusations and discuss other policy matters, like job creation.
But he did not take that advice.
“I feel I have to talk about it because you have to dispute when somebody says something, and fortunately we have the microphone, we’re able to dispute,” Trump said. “Some people can’t. These are lies being pushed by the media and the Clinton campaign to try and keep their grip on our country. They are all false. They’re totally invented fiction — all 100 percent totally and completely fabricated.”
Incredulous over his current plight, Trump posed a rhetorical question to his supporters—or, perhaps, it was a suggestion to the media he claims is so biased against him—about President Obama, who lashed the GOP nominee in another speech Friday morning and, in Trump’s view, has not been subjected to the same level of media scrutiny as himself.
“Why doesn’t some woman say what they say about me about him?” Trump said.
Trump’s bizarre descent into vitriol – Politico