Two women have told The New York Times that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump inappropriately touched them long before his White House run, a story his campaign called “fiction.”
One of Trump’s accusers told the Times he kissed her mouth in 2005, seconds after she introduced herself. The other said he groped her and fondled her breasts on a flight in the 1980s.
“He was like an octopus,” Jessica Leeds, 74, of Manhattan, told the Times, recalling the New York-bound flight some 30 years ago. The incident occurred, Leeds told the Times, after she was offered an upgraded seat in first class. “His hands were everywhere,” Leeds said.
Rachel Crooks, who was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group in 2005, said she saw Trump outside an elevator in Trump Tower and extended a hand to introduce herself, the newspaper reported.
But Trump would not release her hand and instead began kissing her on the cheeks until he “kissed me directly on the mouth,” the report quoted Crooks as saying. “It was so inappropriate,” Crooks said in the Times story. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Shortly after the story appeared Wednesday night on the Times website, Trump’s campaign issued a statement denying the allegations.
“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,” said Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Trump. “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.”
Two additional accounts of abuse surfaced shortly after the Times posted its story. Natasha Stoynoff, a former People magazine reporter who had been assigned to cover Trump and his wife, Melania, in the early 2000s, wrote a piece for the magazine Wednesday accusing Trump of cornering her in a room of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach during a 2005 interview.
“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us,” Stoynoff wrote. “I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
As Trump prepared to rally supporters in West Palm Beach on Thursday, The Palm Beach Post featured a front page interview with a woman who accused Trump of grabbing her butt at a swanky Mar-a-Lago party 13 years ago.
“All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge . . . I turn around and there’s Donald,” said Mindy McGillivray of Palm Springs, Fla. “He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned.”
Trump’s campaign vehemently denied the accusations in both publications.
The allegations come days after Sunday night’s debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in which Trump said he never engaged in the type of unwanted sexual advances toward women he had bragged about in a 2005 conversation caught on audiotape.
In that conversation, which Trump has called “locker room talk,” he told then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush that his status as a celebrity allowed him to kiss women and grab them by their genitals, adding, “You can do anything.”
Leeds and Crooks had different responses to Trump’s alleged actions, but neither of them reported the experiences to authorities. Leeds, who said she later got up and retreated to her original seat in coach class, told the Times she kept it all to herself until about a year ago, when Trump became a serious candidate for the presidency. She began telling family and friends, each of whom spoke to the Times about her allegations.
Crooks, whose company was a real estate investment and development firm in Trump Tower, said that after Trump kissed her, she immediately went to her desk and called her sister, Brianne Webb, and told her about the billionaire’s alleged behavior.
Webb, also interviewed by the Times, said of her sister: “She was very worked up about it.” The Clinton campaign’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, 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.”
With Laura Figueroa