Two women claimed to The New York Times that Donald Trump had inappropriately touched them years ago, just days after he denied during the second presidential debate on Sunday, October 9, of ever forcing himself upon women.
In a piece published on Wednesday, October 12, Jessica Leeds, 74, and Rachel Crooks told their stories to The New York Times.
“I wanted to punch the screen,” Leeds told the paper of watching the Republican presidential nominee deny on national television that he had ever kissed women without permission or groped them inappropriately. According to the publication, more than three decades ago, Leeds was a 38-year-old businesswoman who was upgraded to first class while on a flight to New York — and was seated next to the real estate mogul.
According to Leeds, the pair introduced themselves to each other, and Trump asked if she was married. Leeds told him that she was divorced. Then, approximately 45 minutes into the flight, the then-future GOP presidential hopeful allegedly raised the armrest between them and began to grope her, grabbing her breasts and trying to put his hand up her skirt, according to Leeds.
“He was like an octopus,” she recalled. “His hands were everywhere. It was an assault.”
Leeds told The Times she quickly returned to coach. “I was angry and shook up,” she said, but added that she did not report the behavior to airline staff at the time because unwanted advances from men was typical of the workplace in the 1970s and early 1980s.
“We accepted it for years,” she said. “We were taught it was our fault.”
Crooks claims she also received unwanted attention from the former Apprentice host. In 2005, Crooks was a recent 22-year-old college graduate who was working as a secretary at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower.
According to Crooks, one morning she introduced herself to Trump while the two were outside an elevator, but while shaking hands, the billionaire allegedly refused to let go, kissed her on the cheeks and then planted a kiss “directly on the mouth.”
“It was so inappropriate,” Crooks told The Times of the incident. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.” She immediately called her sister, who reportedly told her, “That is not normal.”
Trump denied the accusations, telling The Times that “none of this ever took place.”
When Us Weekly reached out to Trump’s campaign team for comment on the New York Times’ report, Jason Miller, Trump’s Senior Communications Advisor, told Us: “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. 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.”
“It is absurd to think that 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, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all,” he continued.
On Friday, October 7, previously unreleased footage surfaced of Trump bragging to then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about kissing women and grabbing them “by the p–sy.” Many high-ranking Republican officials have since denounced Trump and rescinded their endorsements.
Trump initially addressed the controversial tape with a statement Friday calling his discussion — which was recorded by a hot mic on an Access Hollywood bus — with Bush, 44, “locker room talk.” He reiterated that explanation with a video apology posted to Twitter on Saturday.
During the Sunday night debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the Republican nominee again repeated the refrain, and when asked by debate moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN if he had ever kissed women or grabbed them by the genitals without their permission, the businessman turned politician said, “No. I have not.”
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