About an hour before the start of the second presidential debate, Republican Donald Trump, in the wake of a video that showed him making lewd and degrading remarks about women, struck back against mounting condemnation by holding a news conference with women who have accused Democrat Hillary Clinton’s husband of sexual harassment.
Trump invited reporters to a hastily called news conference with three women who have previously accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual harassment — Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.
The real estate mogul also invited Kathy Shelton, a woman who has criticized Hillary Clinton for representing her alleged rapist when Clinton ran a legal aid clinic in Arkansas in the late 1970s.
Trump introduced the panel as “four very courageous women” before each spoke briefly, defending Trump and attacking the Clintons.
“He is a good person,” Jones said of Trump. She sued Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, accusing him of propositioning her at a hotel when he was governor of Arkansas. “He is not what other people say.”
“Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” Broaddrick said. “I don’t think there’s any comparison.”
Broaddrick, a former Arkansas nursing home administrator, first said 17 years ago that Bill Clinton raped her during a meeting in Little Rock in 1978. Her lawsuit against him was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed. Clinton has denied the allegations.
When reporters asked Trump about his comments in the 2005 videotape, where he asserted his right to kiss and grope women without their consent because of his celebrity status, he remained silent, while Jones shot back to reporters, “Why don’t you ask Bill Clinton that?”
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri issued a statement about the pre-debate attack.
“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” Palmieri wrote. “Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that.”