Edi­tors de­fend re­porter’s claim Trump sex­u­ally as­saulted her

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL FARHI

WASH­ING­TON: In early 2006, Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for Peo­ple mag­a­zine, co-wrote an ac­count of Don­ald Trump’s mar­riage to his third wife, Me­la­nia. “There’s my baby!” the story quotes Trump as say­ing while he rushes to­ward his then-preg­nant wife. “Then he cor­rects him­self. ‘I mean ... there are my ba­bies!’”

The story doesn’t men­tion what Stoynoff al­leged on Wed­nes­day night in a first-per­son ac­count posted by the mag­a­zine: that in the course of in­ter­view­ing Trump for the story at his Florida es­tate, he pinned her against a wall and forced him­self on her. “We walked into a room alone, and Trump shut the door be­hind us,” she wrote. “I turned around and within sec­onds he was push­ing me against the wall and forc­ing his tongue down my throat.”

The decade-long lag in re­port­ing the al­leged in­ci­dent gave Trump an open­ing on Thurs­day to im­peach Stoynoff ’s story. “Why didn’t the writer of the 12-year-old (sic) arti- cle in Peo­ple Mag­a­zine men­tion the ‘in­ci­dent’ in her story,” he tweeted. “Be­cause it did not hap­pen.”

Stoynoff and Peo­ple say it did, and the long de­lay in re­port­ing it re­flected the con­flict­ing emo­tions that as­sault vic­tims of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It was dis­ori­ent­ing for her,” said JD Heyman, Peo­ple’s deputy ed­i­tor, on Thurs­day. “She felt a great deal of worry and dis­tress about it. Then she felt an­gry.”

The anger, he said, was trig­gered by Trump’s de­nial dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial de­bate on Sun­day that he had ever as­saulted a woman. At least four women, in­clud­ing Stoynoff, have come for­ward since then with sto­ries about Trump grop­ing or kiss­ing them against their will.

Stoynoff, who wasn’t avail­able for com­ment, didn’t con­fide in her edi­tors at the time, Heyman said. “No one in any po­si­tion to pub­lish the ar­ti­cle had any idea about it.”

In­stead, Stoynoff went ahead and con­trib­uted to a story por­tray­ing Trump and his wife as a happy ex­pec­tant cou­ple on their first wed­ding an­niver­sary. Heyman said of Stoynoff ’s de­ci­sion not to in­form her edi­tors: “I think she felt con­flicted at the time. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to make a fuss, and she was fright­ened... She was a re­porter try­ing to do her job.”

Heyman said Stoynoff told edi­tors about her ex­pe­ri­ence with Trump only af­ter the Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood record­ing of Trump emerged last week. They en­cour­aged her to write about what hap­pened, he said, but left the de­ci­sion up to her.

Af­ter Sun­day’s de­bate, she was ready, he said.

Trump pushed back against the al­le­ga­tions, call­ing them po­lit­i­cally mo­tived “smears” at a rally in Florida. He specif­i­cally de­nied the Peo­ple story and in­structed his sup­port­ers to “look at her” – mean­ing Stoynoff – and de­cide whether they found her ac­count cred­i­ble.

Heyman de­nied Trump’s sug­ges­tion there was co-or­di­na­tion among the New York Times, Peo­ple and the Palm Beach Post, all of which pub­lished sto­ries on Wed­nes­day al­leg­ing abuse by Trump.

“We were to­tally un­aware of the New York Times story,” Heyman said.

In a state­ment, Peo­ple’s ed­i­tor in chief, Jess Ca­gle, wrote: “We are grate­ful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story. To as­sign any other mo­tive is a dis­gust­ing, pa­thetic at­tempt to vic­timise her again.” – Wash­ing­ton Post

Peo­ple gather for a protest by the Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Women against statements about women made by Don­ald Trump.

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