Trump calls his ac­cusers ‘hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble liars’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Steve Peo­ples and Jonathan Lemire

Don­ald Trump heat­edly re­jected new al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault as “pure fic­tion” on Thurs­day, ham­mer­ing his fe­male ac­cusers as “hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble liars” as the al­ready-nasty 2016 pres­i­den­tial campaign sank fur­ther into charges and coun­ter­charges of at­tacks on women.

Campaign foe Hil­lary Clin­ton was mostly silent on the is­sue. But Trump faced a pas­sion­ate re­buke from first lady Michelle Obama, who warned that his be­hav­ior “is not some­thing we can ig­nore.”

Af­ter years of work­ing to end “this kind of vi­o­lence and abuse and dis­re­spect ... we’re hear­ing these ex­act same things on the campaign trail. We are drown­ing in it,” Obama de­clared in bat­tle­ground New Hamp­shire, her voice crack­ing with emo­tion. “We can’t ex­pose our chil­dren to this any longer, not for an­other minute, let alone for four years.”

With Elec­tion Day less than four weeks away, Repub­li­can Trump was again forced to de­fend him­self against al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct, five days af­ter a video sur­faced in which he bragged about kiss­ing and grop­ing women with­out their per­mis­sion.

Sim­i­lar be­hav­ior was de­tailed by women who ac­cused Trump in ar­ti­cles pub­lished late Wed­nes­day by The New York Times and the Palm Beach Post. Sep­a­rately, a Peo­ple Mag­a­zine reporter of­fered a first-per­son ac­count ac­cus­ing Trump of at­tack­ing her while she was in Florida to in­ter­view him and his preg­nant wife.

Ever de­fi­ant, the New York bil­lion­aire de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and blamed them on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s campaign and the com­plicit news me­dia as he cam­paigned in Florida. He promised to sue his me­dia crit­ics and said he was pre­par­ing ev­i­dence that would dis­credit his fe­male ac­cusers, whom he called “hor­ri­ble peo­ple. They’re hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble liars.”

“These vi­cious claims about me, of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct with women, are to­tally and ab­so­lutely false. And the Clin­tons know it,” he charged. He of­fered no ev­i­dence dis­cred­it­ing the new re­ports ex­cept to ask why his ac­cusers had waited years and then made their al­le­ga­tions less than a month be­fore the elec­tion.

His com­ments came soon af­ter he called a reporter “a sleaze­bag” for ask­ing whether Trump had ever touched or groped a woman with­out her con­sent.

Trump’s at­tacks on his ac­cusers’ cred­i­bil­ity marked an awk­ward break from campaign man­ager, Kellyanne Con­way, who ear­lier in the week high­lighted a Clin­ton tweet that said “ev­ery sur­vivor of sex­ual as­sault de­serves to be heard, be­lieved, and sup­ported.”

Con­way hoped to en­cour­age more women to come for­ward with al­le­ga­tions against Bill Clin­ton, build­ing on the campaign’s Sun­day de­ci­sion to bring three of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s ac­cusers to the sec­ond pres­i­den­tial de­bate. The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee is ex­pected to pro­mote the women on stage dur­ing up­com­ing ral­lies and in tele­vi­sion in­ter­views, ac­cord­ing to a per­son briefed on the plan but not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss it pub­licly.

They were not on stage with him on Thurs­day in West Palm Beach, the first of three pub­lic ap­pear­ances sched­uled for the day.

Trump run­ning mate Mike Pence ditched the na­tional re­porters who pay to travel with his campaign in Penn­syl­va­nia. The In­di­ana gov­er­nor’s Twit­ter ac­count showed him meet­ing with faith lead­ers and stop­ping at a restau­rant — af­ter a Pence spokesman said the vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee was at­tend­ing closed­door fundrais­ers.

Repub­li­can lead­ers across the coun­try said they were deeply trou­bled by the al­le­ga­tions against Trump, but there was no ev­i­dence of new de­fec­tions. Over the week­end, dozens of Repub­li­can sen­a­tors and con­gress­men vowed they would not vote for him, with many call­ing on him to step aside.

Some re­canted af­ter an ag­gres­sive week­end de­bate per­for­mance. And in what he called an in­creas­ingly “muddy” elec­tion, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchi­son won­dered aloud on Thurs­day what could change vot­ers’ minds at this point.

Rais­ing com­plaints Repub­li­cans have made against Hil­lary Clin­ton, he asked dur­ing a news con­fer­ences:

“Is there a deal-breaker out there? How many emails have to be de­stroyed? How many in­ves­ti­ga­tions have to be con­cluded with ques­tion marks? How many com­ments have to come out from one campaign in ref­er­ence to re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions that raises con­cerns?”

More Trump ac­cusers may be com­ing for­ward, ac­cord­ing to at­tor­ney Glo­ria Allred, who said women have con­tacted her of­fice in re­cent days.

“The dam has bro­ken, and more women will be com­ing for­ward,” she said.

The sto­ries about Trump and his coun­ter­charges against Clin­ton’s hus­band have plunged an al­ready ran­corous campaign to new lows. They also have dis­tracted at­ten­tion from the re­lease of thou­sands of hacked emails from Clin­ton campaign chair­man John Podesta that in­cluded some po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion.

A new batch in­di­cated on Thurs­day that her 2008 pres­i­den­tial campaign had tried to move the Illi­nois Demo­cratic pri­mary to a later date, be­liev­ing it might help her. The emails are be­ing parceled out by wik­ileaks.

The real es­tate mogul has re­peat­edly in­sisted this week that Hil­lary Clin­ton needs to be im­pris­oned. “Hon­estly, she should be locked up,” he told cheer­ing Florida sup­port­ers Thurs­day. For Trump, how­ever, the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect ap­pears to be a tum­ble in the bat­tle­ground states he needs to win in Novem­ber. What was al­ready a nar­row path to the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed for vic­tory has vir­tu­ally dis­ap­peared un­less there’s a sig­nif­i­cant shakeup be­fore Nov. 8

He promised Thurs­day to fo­cus on is­sues in the fi­nal weeks, even as his campaign crafted plans to high­light decades-old ac­cu­sa­tions against Clin­ton’s hus­band.

Trump con­fi­dant and in­for­mal ad­viser Roger Stone has long en­cour­aged him to make Bill Clin­ton’s al­leged as­saults a cen­ter­piece of the campaign. Steve Ban­non, the campaign’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, un­til re­cently ran a con­ser­va­tive web­site that ea­gerly pro­motes con­spir­acy the­o­ries about the Clin­tons.

Back in New Hamp­shire, Michelle Obama said, “Enough is enough.”

“In our hearts, we all know if we let Hil­lary’s op­po­nent win this elec­tion, then we are send­ing a clear mes­sage to our kids that ev­ery­thing they are see­ing and hear­ing is per­fectly OK,” she said. “We are telling our sons it’s OK to hu­mil­i­ate women. We are telling our daugh­ters this is the way they de­serve to be treated. We are telling all of our kids that big­otry and bul­ly­ing is per­fectly ac­cept­able.”

EVAN VUCCI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a campaign rally at the South Florida Fair­grounds and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, Thurs­day in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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