Trump brushes off accusations
GOP nominee slams critics amid 4 women’s claims
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump responded to new allegations of sexual assault by stepping up angry rebuttals and threats Thursday, blaming media, special interests and Hillary Clinton’s machine for trying to destroy his reputation in order to maintain their grip on power.
Trump cast himself as a martyr, “taking the slings and arrows, gladly, for you.”
“I’m being punished for leaving the special club and revealing to you the terrible things that are going on having to do with our country,” Trump said during a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The rally epitomized his penchant for engaging his critics at his own expense, in that Trump spent most of his time delving into accusations Wednesday of sexual misconduct that have further undermined his campaign.
It included a reference to the looks of a former People magazine reporter who accused him of an unwanted advance, renewed claims that the FBI is corrupt for declining to recommend that Clinton be prosecuted over her private email server, and a qualified promise to release “substantial evidence” to rebut accusations from female accusers in an “appropriate way and at an appropriate time.”
That followed several Donald Trump, seen at a Thursday rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., says he’s “being punished for leaving the special club.” days in which he has lashed out at other perceived enemies and fought with Republican leaders who failed to come to his defense.
“I do not think it’s smart for Donald Trump to get sucked in on these personality fights, and he doesn’t seem to be able to resist it,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Fox News. “If he could discipline himself to stay big, he would win this election by a shocking margin.”
Trump’s campaign blindsided the director of the Virginia GOP on Wednesday night by declaring during a daily conference call that it was withdrawing resources from the crucial battleground state, according to a Republican official who would not be named recounting private discussions. That puts added pressure on Trump to win Pennsylvania, where his remarks about women have made him “toxic” in the Philadelphia suburbs, which have a large concentration of affluent educated women, the official said.
Democrats have been more than happy to continue the battle with Trump on their terrain, as Trump gets caught up in sexual allegations that followed last week’s release of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged in vulgar terms that celebrities like him can grope women at will. Trump denied during Sunday’s debate that he had ever kissed or groped women without consent.
President Barack Obama, campaigning Thursday for Democrats in Ohio, said GOP complacency led the party to nominate a candidate who brags and jokes about groping women.
“You can’t wait until that finally happens and then say, ‘That’s too much, that’s enough,’ and then say somehow you are showing some type of leadership and serve to be elected to the United States Senate,” Obama said.
First lady Michelle Obama delivered an impassioned speech in New Hampshire, calling Trump’s words about women disgraceful and intolerable.
Multiple women recounted being kissed and groped by Trump without their consent in reports published Wednesday, saying they came forward because the GOP presidential nominee dismissed his lewd comments caught on tape as “locker room talk.”
Two spoke with the New York Times. Jessica Leeds, 74, said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to slip his hand up her skirt in the first-class cabin of a plane more than three decades ago.
Rachel Crooks told the Times that Trump kissed her on the mouth when she introduced herself to him in front of an elevator in 2005 while she was working as a 22-year-old secretary in Trump Tower.
Trump threatened to sue, and his attorneys demanded a retraction, saying the article was “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel.” Times attorney David McCraw responded forcefully Thursday in a statement that essentially dared Trump to sue.
The Palm Beach Post published a report from a 36-year-old woman who said Trump grabbed her posterior at Trump’s Mar-aLago estate 13 years ago.
And People magazine published an account from one of its former writers, Natasha Stoynoff, who described being mauled by the GOP nominee when she went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and his wife, Melania, for a story about their first wedding anniversary.
Trump, discounting the report during Thursday’s rally, appeared to take a shot at the writer’s appearance.
“Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think,” he said, gesturing with his hands. “I don’t think so.”
Some core supporters agreed with Trump that the accusations amount to propaganda from the left.
“He didn’t rape nobody,” said Mark Breaux, a contractor from Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. “He touched somebody on the hiney.”