On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders promised that she would produce a list of eyewitnesses to exonerate President Trump from allegations of sexual harassment and assault. In a statement, the White House said these eyewitnesses “totally disputed in most cases” the accusations that women have raised against Trump.
The pledge came after three women came forward again to speak out about their experiences with Trump and demand an investigation into Trump’s alleged sexual harassment and assault.
Overall, at least 14 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault — with others alleging other forms of sexual harassment and predation.
Sanders sent the list of supposed eyewitnesses to ThinkProgress late Monday night. It contains the names of three people, as well as references to previously published reports regarding those people.
Katie Blair is offered by the White House as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey, who alleges “Trump personally inspected each of the contestants” at an event prior to the 2006 Miss USA pageant. Holvey said it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.” She also said that Trump went into a dressing room while some of the contestants were getting ready.
Blair, however, was not even a contestant at the 2006 Miss USA pageant and has not publicly commented on Holvey’s claims. She was the winner of Miss Teen USA in 2006, which is a different event. Miss Teen USA was held in August 2006 in Palm Springs. Miss USA was held in April 2006 in Baltimore.
Blair spoke out after “multiple other former contestants claimed he walked in on girls changing during a different pageant in 1997.” Blair said that nothing similar had happened to her. She did not rule out that Trump come into a dressing room while contestants were changing but suggested that, if it did happen, it’s because the women wanted to expose themselves to Trump. “[I]f anything like that ever occurred, the women involved were probably ‘well aware’ that Trump was coming back there,” Blair told the New York Daily News.
Melissa Young was also offered as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey. The White House list describes Young as someone who “Also Competed In The 2005 Miss USA Pageant.”
But Holvey was not a contestant in the 2005 Miss USA pageant. In fact, Holvey represented North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, while Young represented Wisconsin in the 2005 Miss USA Pageant. (A different contestant named Chelsea Cooley represented North Carolina in 2005; she won.)
An inquiry to the White House press office about this apparent error was not immediately returned.
Young has not publicly commented on Holvey’s account. She says that Trump was kind to her several years later when she had a blood clot that sent her to the hospital. Young described Trump as a “gentleman.”
Notably, one person who says Trump walked into dressing rooms while beauty pageant contestants were changing is Donald Trump himself. Here is what Trump told Howard Stern in 2005:
Well, I’ll tell you the funniest [sic] is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know they’re standing there with no clothes… And you see these incredible-looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.
Trump’s language, that he “inspected” the contestants, matches Holvey’s account.
Anthony Gilberthorpe first emerged during Trump’s presidential campaign and claimed to be an eyewitness disputing the account of Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on an airplane in 1980. Gilberthorpe’s name does not appear on the document provided by the White House, which simply refers to him as “an eyewitness.”
Gliberthorpe’s specific claim about Leeds has no independent backing but is based on his “self-described excellent memory.” He claims that, as an 18-year-old British boy, he was in the first class cabin of a U.S. domestic flight. Although he claims “nothing inappropriate” happened, he says he remembers the interactions between Trump and Leeds exactly and monitored their behavior the entire flight. According to Gilberthorpe, Leeds was flirting with Trump. Later Gilberthorpe claims that Leeds, then in her 30s, confided in him (an 18-year-old stranger) that she wanted to marry Trump.
But even more significantly, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, Gilberthorpe is a notorious liar:
In 1987, for example, he told newspapers in England that he was engaged to fashion designer in California named Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. “Both our families are delighted,” he told The Gloucester Express. It was later revealed that he was not engaged. Also there was no Miss Bergdorf-Hunt. He invented the whole thing.
He later won a substantial libel judgment from British newspapers that reported he had AIDS. But it eventually came out that Gilberthorpe himself was the source for the story. The newspapers appealed and Gilberthorpe ended up settling after the newspapers agreed to offset a small portion of his legal fees. The incident left him “very much out of pocket and with egg all over his face.”
Gilberthorpe also contends that, as a young man, he was “paid to recruit underage rent boys for orgies attended by ministers from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.” There is no evidence to support his salacious claims.
So the White House’s list of “eyewitnesses” consists of two women who don’t even claim to be eyewitnesses and a British man with an incredible story and a documented history of deception. The White House is suggesting that these “eyewitnesses” mean the claims of more than 14 women are “totally disputed.”