The NY Times is reporting that two women who met Trump in passing, one in the 1980s and one in 2005, claim he actually did some of the things he discussed doing in a much discussed video clip released last week. The first accuser, Jessica Leeds, met Trump when she was given a first class seat next to him on a flight to New York. From the NY Times:
More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before.
About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.
According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Despite the fact that this allegedly happened more than 30 years ago, it’s a pretty serious accusation. Leeds says she never reported the incident to the airline or to authorities after it happened and didn’t mention it to anyone she knew until recently when Trump began appearing in the news all the time. Since then she did tell several friends about it and they confirmed that much to the Times. Leeds says she finally decided to contact the media after watching Sunday’s debate and hearing Trump deny that he had ever actually groped a woman as discussed in a video clip.
The other accuser included in the NY Times’ story is Rachel Crooks who says she encountered Trump outside an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005:
Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
It didn’t feel like an accident, she said. It felt like a violation.
“It was so inappropriate,” Ms. Crooks recalled in an interview. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Crooks, who was 22 at the time of the alleged incident, says she immediately called her sister in Ohio and reported what had happened. The sister recalls the discussion and the fact that Crooks seemed “very worked up about it.”
When asked about the claims of the two women by the NY Times, Trump flatly denied that either incident happened saying, “None of this ever took place.” He also reaffirmed that he had never done the things he talked about in the video tape released last week, saying, “I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement calling the Times’ story “fiction.” From the Hill:
“This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement.“To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.”
In the statement, Miller calls it “absurd” to think “one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story.”
Because the stories can’t be verified, especially the one told by Ms. Leeds which she apparently didn’t talk about for 30 years, it will be hard to convince Trump supporters this is more than last minute politics. That said, these stories could be convincing to some of those suburban women who were already on the fence about Trump after the “locker room talk” video tape appeared last week.
And of course you can count on the left, which has been largely disinterested in accusations against Bill Clinton by Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, to suddenly find these accusations against Trump far more interesting and worthy of lots of discussion on television.
Here’s the NY Times video of Jessica Leeds telling her story: