Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trump campaign rocked by wave of new sexual harassment allegations

The GuardianThe Guardian

The Guardian

Maria L La Ganga in San Francisco13 mins ago

A new wave of stories involving Donald Trump’s alleged sexual transgressions bubbled up on Wednesday, threatening the Republican presidential nominee’s already weak support among female voters less than a month before election day.

Related: A second Miss USA contestant: Trump barged into room when we were naked

Ever since video of the real estate mogul surfaced Friday showing him brag about how he could grab women’s genitals with impunity, more and more women have come forward to describe how they were demeaned and touched inappropriately.

In addition, a video surfaced Wednesday night of a 1992 Entertainment Tonight Christmas special in which Trump sexualized a 10-year-old girl, according to CBS News. Trump was 46 at the time.

The holiday show was filmed at Trump Tower and includes a group of 10-year-old girls. Trump asks one if she is going up the escalator. When she tells him she is, he looks at the camera and brags to the home audience: “I’m am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

On Friday, a 2005 installment of Access Hollywood was leaked to the Washington Post showing Trump laughing with host Billy Bush about how being famous allowed him to kiss and grope women without their consent.

Trump dismissed the comments asnothing more than “locker-room banter” and insisted during during Sunday’s debate with Hillary Clinton that he had not actually done any of the things he described.

But the ensuing furor rocked the Republican party. Formerly solid Trump supporters withdrew endorsements. There were calls for the candidate to step down. Earlier this week, Trump declared war on the GOP establishment, tweeting that House speaker Paul Ryan is a “very weak and ineffective leader”.

Related: Athletes on Trump's 'locker room banter': that's not how we talk at work

And on Wednesday, the stories told by an increasing number of women belied his protestations of innocence.

The New York Times published the story of two women who said that Trump “touched them inappropriately”.

Jessica Leeds, 74, said that, more than three decades ago when she was a traveling businesswoman, she sat next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a New York-bound flight. The two had never met.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, Trump lifted the armrest, she said, grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. Leeds told the Times that “he was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere.”

Rachel Crooks told the news organization that, when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate investment and development company located in Trump Tower, she introduced herself to Trump when they were in an elevator.

They shook hands, Crooks said, and Trump would not let go. Instead, she said, he began kissing her – on the cheeks and on the mouth. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” she said.”

The Palm Beach Post published a similar story told by Mindy McGillivray, who said Trump groped her 13 years ago at his property Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Guardian reported that Donald Trump deliberately walked in on two young Miss USA 2001 contestants while they were naked and getting dressed for a rehearsal, according to one of the former beauty contestants, who did not wish to be identified.

Trump ‘walked in on naked girls’, says former Miss Arizona

“Mr Trump just barged right in, didn’t say anything, stood there and stared at us,” one of the women recalled. Trump’s attitude, she said, seemed to be: “I can do this because I can.”

In addition, four women told Buzzfeed that Trump walked into the dressing room during the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant while contestants were changing. Some were only 15 years old.

“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here’,” Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA told Buzzfeed. Trumps response? “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”

Related: Trump lawyers given court date over lawsuit alleging rape of 13-year-old

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests from the Guardian for comment on many of the new allegations.

But in a written statement, the Trump campaign vigorously denied the New York Times story, calling it a gross political attack.

“This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” senior communications advisor Jason Miller said.

“To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election,” he continued.

“It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story,” he said. “and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.”

Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado on Trump: ‘I know what he can do’

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, however, jumped on the new allegations Wednesday night in a written statement from spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri.

“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women,” Palmieri said. “These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words.”

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said Wednesday that “Trump cannot win this election. It’s time for Republicans, and all Americans, to face that reality. And it’s time to reject the notion that he is the only option other than Hillary Clinton. Americans deserve better. Women deserve better.”

This is far from the first time that Trump has denigrated women during the 2016 campaign. He has called them “disgusting” and “animals”, has said a New York Times columnist had “the face of a dog”, and “a spent a week fighting with a former Miss Universe, a Latina woman who he described as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping”.

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