Four 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. Another says he kissed her on the mouth outside an elevator in 2005, according to the same report. A third woman says Trump groped her rear end at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago, the Palm Beach Post reported. The fourth, then a People magazine reporter, says Trump kissed her without her consent when the two were alone in 2005 right before an interview she was about to conduct with Trump and his wife.
Trump and his campaign denied the allegations. But in each of the first three instances, 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. In the fourth, the reporter wrote a detailed first person account of what she says happened on People’s website.
The GOP presidential nominee was considering filing a lawsuit against the Times and was consulting with advisers about his legal options, according to two people close to him. The two people, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations, said Trump is furious about the accusations made against him in the story and with the newspaper for publishing them.
Early Thursday morning, Trump’s campaign released a letter from attorney Marc E. Kasowitz demanding a retraction from the Times. “Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies,” it said. The letter was addressed to Times executive editor Dean Baquet.
In a statement issued by his campaign shortly after the Times 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. Hicks denied the fourth account in a statement, saying it “never happened.” 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.
Separately, CBS News on Wednesday reported 1992 footage filmed for “Entertainment Tonight” in which Trump is heard commenting about a young girl, “I’m going to be dating her in ten years.”
Also Wednesday, Rolling Stone published a story that included the allegations of Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013. In a comment she appended to a post she had put on Facebook earlier this year suggesting that Trump treated pageant contestants “like cattle,” Searles wrote, “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.” Yahoo covered her post and comment in June.
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 a 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.”
“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 rear end at Mar-a-Lago in 2003 when she was there accompanying a photographer friend who was shooting 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.
Natasha Stoynoff, the reporter who wrote that she went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and Melania Trump for a feature story on their first wedding anniversary, said Trump kissed her without her consent when they were alone in a room.
“I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff wrote.
She wrote that he told her later, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
Hicks, in her statement denying the allegation, said, “Mr. Trump was the biggest star on television and surely this would have been a far bigger scoop for People magazine.”
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.
Miller, in his statement, accused the Times of a “completely false, coordinated character assassination” against Trump. He called it a “political attack.”
Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, said the reports show Trump lied on the debate stage on Sunday.
“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women. These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words,” Palmieri said in a statement Wednesday night.
In the “Entertainment Tonight” footage reported by CBS News, Trump can be heard asking a young girl at Trump Tower, “You going up the escalator?”
“Yeah,” she responds.
“I’m going to be dating her in ten years, can you believe it?” Trump is heard saying. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the CBS report.