Donald Trump is in the eye of a storm after at least five women accused him of sexual assault and harassment, threatening the Republican presidential nominee’s already fragile campaign, less than a month before the election day.
The latest accusations against 70-year-old Trump come just days after a 2005 video surfaced of him in which he is talking in lewd and sexually explicit terms about women and bragging about groping them and getting away with it because he was a “star”.
The New York Times reported two women’s detailed accounts of Trump groping them. There was a similar account from another woman in the Palm Beach Post. Former Apprentice contestant Jennifer Murphy and People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff also levelled similar allegations against him.
Jessica Leeds, 74, said Trump had groped her when the two were seated next to each other on a flight more than three decades ago.
Rachel Crooks, who worked for a firm based in Trump Tower in 2005, found herself in a lift with Trump and tried to introduce herself by shaking his hand. The Apprentice star kissed Crooks, then 22, “directly on the mouth”, she told the New York Times.
Mindy McGillivray, 36, told the Palm Beach Post that she was groped by Trump during a party at his Florida property Mar-a-Lago 13 years ago, while Murphy told Grazia that Trump had kissed her on the lips at the end of a 2005 job interview.
In a lengthy account published late last night, Stoynoff recalled travelling to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and his wife Melania, in 2005. Trump, she claimed, had cornered her in private and “within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat”.
The women came forward to tell their stories after Sunday’s presidential debate in which Trump denied having ever sexually assaulted women.
The Trump campaign condemned Stoynoff’s story as “fabricated” and the New York Times piece as “fiction” and “a completely false, coordinated character assassination”.
Trump’s lawyers threatened to sue the New York Times.
The Trump campaign distributed a letter sent to the Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, demanding a retraction and saying the article is “reckless, defamatory and libel per se.”
Trump’s attorney said failure to retract the piece and remove it from the newspaper’s website would leave him “no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies”.
When asked to comment on the accusations, Trump told a Times reporter that she was a “disgusting human being”.
Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign, said: “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.”
Earlier, BuzzFeed News reported that four contestants in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Trump walked into the dressing room while the participants, some as young as 15, were changing.
The new controversy comes just a day after Trump’s campaign said it was planning to ramp up its attacks on Bill Clinton as a way to attack Hillary.
The Trump campaign is facing a lot of pressure after a stream of Republican leaders withdrew their support from the party’s nominee following the emergence of the 2005 tape.
Trump has since gone on the offensive against senior Republican figures including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain.