This morning, three women who have accused Trump of sexual assaulting them appeared on Megyn Kelly’s talk show, sharing new details of what they say was abuse at the hands of the president. They are among at least 14 women who accuse Trump of sexual assault. In response, the White House issued a statement claiming these women are lying. Notably, the White House claims that the accusations were contradicted “in most cases” by eyewitnesses:
These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory. The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.
This is a lie.
Only one “eyewitness” has ever emerged to dispute a claim of sexual assault against Trump. That man, Anthony Gilberthorpe, is a serial fableist with a history of pushing false stories for a few minutes of attention.
Gilberthorpe claims that he was in the first-class cabin with Trump and Jessica Leeds during a cross-country flight in 1980. Gilberthorpe presented no actual evidence that he was on the flight, “just his self-described excellent memory.” He also did not explain why he might have been on a first-class domestic flight in the U.S. as an 18-year-old British boy. He also did not explain why, if he had been on such a flight, he would remember an interaction between Trump and Leeds in which “nothing inappropriate” occurred. He also claims that Leeds, who was in her 30s at the time, confided in him during the flight that she wanted to marry Trump.
But even more telling is Gilberthorpe’s long history as a fraud and a 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.
Trump’s eagerness to rely on such an unreliable account suggests he has little information that contradict the allegations against him.
During the campaign, Trump and Mike Pence promised information that would prove all the allegations against Trump are “all categorically false.” They later confirmed that they were alluding to Gilberthorpe’s story.
Trump camp aide confirms to me that the NY Post witness report is the evidence Trump and Pence have been referring to past few days.
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) October 14, 2016
Months later, they are not only still referencing Gilberthorpe’s tale but also claiming there is eyewitness testimony contradicting “most” of Trump’s accusers.
For many of Trump’s accusers, there has been no response at all. For others, Trump has issued a blanket denial. In one case, Trump’s former butler said he didn’t think the allegations were credible. In another, Trump suggested the woman making the allegation was too ugly for him to sexually assault.
But there haven’t been eyewitnesses, even unreliable ones, that contradict Trump’s accusers in “most” cases.
There is just Anthony Gilberthorpe.
UPDATE: At the press briefing, Sarah Sanders promised to produce a list of “eyewitnesses” that dispute the accounts of the women who accused Trump of sexual assault.
Earlier in the briefing she also modified the White House’s claims in a small but significant way. Earlier the White House said that “in most cases” the women accusing Trump are disputed by eyewitnesses. Sanders said that “eyewitnesses in several reports…back up the president’s claim.”