Three women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct resurfaced their allegations in a news conference on Monday hosted by a documentary filmmaker, as a growing furor over inappropriate behavior by powerful men has focused fresh attention on the president.
The three women — Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks and Samantha Holvey — asked on Monday for a congressional investigation into their allegations. Leeds and Crooks say that Trump made sexual contact with them without their consent, and Holvey says that Trump behaved inappropriately with contestants in the Miss USA pageant he owned. Trump has denied the allegations since they were first reported ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
“I think it only stands fair that he be investigated as well,” Holvey said at a news conference, citing lawmakers’ willingness to investigate fellow members of Congress accused of misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal that has unleashed allegations of high-profile harassment nationwide. “This isn’t a partisan issue.”
Trump and his aides, including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have said all of the accusations against him are false — while demanding that Democrats such as Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers be held accountable for their own alleged misconduct. Some of Trump’s opponents in Congress have said he should consider resigning his office over the allegations against him, as Franken and Conyers both did.
On Tuesday, Trump said he did not know any of the women who are accusing him.
“Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met,” Trump said on Twitter. “FAKE NEWS!”
Celebrity chef Mario Batali became the latest cultural figure enmeshed in scandal Monday as he took leave from his restaurant and his co-hosting duties on ABC’s “The Chew” after the website Eater reported that four women, all unnamed, accused Batali of sexual harassment.
The final weeks of the campaign to fill Alabama’s Senate seat in an election Tuesday have been dominated by charges that Republican candidate Roy Moore engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior decades ago with girls as young as 14. Moore has denied the accusations.
Trump has backed Moore’s campaign with full-throated support, including repeated Twitter exhortations to his followers to support the Republican and a rally in Florida just outside Alabama on Friday.
All three of Trump’s accusers said he should resign but that they don’t expect him to and that they don’t believe they could prevail through the courts; Crooks said a congressional investigation is probably the most they can hope for. All three said they weren’t surprised he stuck with Moore despite the allegations against the candidate.
‘Should Be Heard’
On Sunday, Trump’s own ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on the CBS show “Face the Nation” that the president’s accusers deserved to be heard.
“Women who accuse anyone should be heard,” Haley said. “They should be heard, and they should be dealt with.
“Any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” she said.
Asked by the show’s host, John Dickerson, if Trump’s election rendered the allegations against him a “settled issue,” Haley said: “That’s for the people to decide.”
“I know that he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them,” she said.
The film producer who hosted Monday’s news conference, Robert Greenwald, assembled a video of 16 women who’ve accused Trump of misconduct. “Timing really does matter,” Greenwald said of Trump’s election last year, suggesting there might have been a different outcome in the post-Weinstein era. “Now the collective consciousness of our nation has been awakened” and “predators and harassers must be held accountable.”
Leeds said in an article the New York Times published in October 2016 that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt while seated beside her in first class on a flight during the 1980s. Leeds said she had to leave her seat and go to the back of the plane.
Crooks, who at the time was a 22-year-old receptionist for a real estate company at Trump Tower, said that once when she shook hands with Trump he wouldn’t let go of her and kissed on her on the mouth, according to the same article.
Holvey, the 2006 Miss North Carolina, told CNN that during a Miss USA event a month before the pageant, Trump personally inspected each contestant, ogling them to the point where it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.”
“He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” Holvey told CNN at the time. "You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling."
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