Since the Washington Post leaked 2005 footage of Donald Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women, several reports have emerged saying that Trump physically assaulted women.
According to the New York Times, two women—Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks—say that Trump assaulted them. Leeds said she was traveling for business during the 1980s when a stewardess asked if she wanted to be moved to first class. There, she said, she met Trump. She told the Times that she and Trump chatted a bit, and that before long, he moved the armrest and started assaulting her. She told the Times that Trump grabbed her breast and attempted to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
She told the Times that she fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.
It is a statement that Crooks echoed in recounting what she said was a 2005 encounter with Trump.
According to Crooks, who was then a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in New York City’s Trump Tower building, she met Trump outside an elevator one morning.
Knowing that her company and Trump’s did business, Crooks said, she introduced herself. The two shook hands but, Crooks told the Times, Trump refused to let her hand go. She said he began kissing her on the cheeks. Then, Crooks told the Times, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
She said that the kiss didn’t feel accidental.
“It was so inappropriate. I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” Crooks told the Times.
Leeds and Crooks aren’t the only women to come forward. People magazine published an article late Wednesday evening titled, “Attacked by Donald Trump.” Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for the magazine who worked what she called “the Trump beat,” recounted an experience she said she had with Trump while working on a feature on the real estate mogul’s first-year wedding anniversary to wife Melania in 2005.
“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff wrote.
“Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger—a looming figure—and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later as I tried to unpin myself,” Stoynoff continued. “The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview.”
Stoynoff wrote that Trump insisted that the two would have an affair. She said that she told a co-worker about the incident and was encouraged to tell upper management and to kill the story. Stoynoff wrote that she decided to forget the assault and published the story anyway.
“But, like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (‘It’s not like he raped me…’); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted People feature killed,” she wrote.
Trump has denied all of the women’s claims. In a series of tweets, Trump said that the New York Times story is false and that Stoynoff’s article is a lie.
Trump attorney Marc E. Kasowitz wrote, in a letter to Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, “Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se. It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy,” CNN reports.
In the wake of these reports, Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s campaign communications director, issued a statement saying, “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,” CNN reports.