Trump ‘ groped woman like an octopus’
> But tycoon’s spokesman rejects allegation as ‘character assassination’
WASHINGTON: Newly published accusations that Donald Trump groped or inappropriately kissed women rocked the race for the White House yesterday, with the Republican nominee angrily denying the reports and his campaign branding them as “character assassination”.
Claims by four women, whose accounts were reported by The New York Times, The Palm Beach Post and Yahoo News, came to light after he said in Sunday’s presidential debate with rival Hillary Clinton that he had never assaulted women.
Trump’s denial came as he tried to set his campaign back on track after a video recording from 2005 surfaced on Friday in which the 70-year-old is heard making lewd boasts about how his celebrity meant he could grope women with impunity.
“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
He added that when he meets beautiful women, “I just start kissing them”.
Trump has apologised for the remarks, dismissing it as “locker room” banter.
With just 27 days until the Nov 8 election, and Democrat Clinton in the driver’s seat with national polls in her favour, the embattled Trump had sought to get back on the offensive.
But the explosive new allegations of sexual misconduct put his behaviour with women in the spotlight once again.
Former businesswoman Jessica Leeds, 74, who worked for a paper company, told the Times that Trump groped her on a flight in the early 1980s as they sat next to each other in first class.
About 45 minutes after takeoff, Trump lifted the armrest and began grabbing her and tried to put his hand up her skirt, Leeds said.
“He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere,” she told the daily. “It was an assault.” Rachel Crooks said she was a 22-yearold receptionist at a real estate company in Trump Tower in 2005 when she encountered Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning.
She introduced herself and shook his hand, but he would not let go.
Trump began kissing her cheeks and then “kissed me directly on the mouth”, she told the Times.
“I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
“None of this ever took place,” Trump angrily told the Times, calling the reporter a “disgusting human being”.
His senior communicators advisor Jason Miller said the report is a “coordinated character assassination”.
The Palm Beach Post also published a report yesterday on its online site in which Mindy McGillivray, now 36, alleged that Trump grabbed her at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida in early 2003.
“I was startled. I jumped,” she said of the incident that happened as she was working as a photographer’s assistant.
More sordid allegations came from Miss Washington 2013 Cassandra Searles.
Yahoo News reported that she had called Trump a “misogynist” in a Facebook post, and said in a comment that he had “continually” grabbed her and “invited me to his hotel room”. – AFP
Trump holds up signs at the end of a campaign rally in Lakeland, Florida yesterday.