On Tuesday morning, President Trump reacted to a Washington Post feature story about Rachel Crooks — one of the at least 14 women who have accused him of sexual assault — by claiming he’s never even met Crooks.
Trump, who has been recorded bragging about assaulting women, said that he can’t imagine anyone being so reckless as to commit sexual assault in the lobby of Trump Tower in the first place.
A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
….cameras running. Another False Accusation. Why doesn’t @washingtonpost report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me? One had her home mortgage paid off. Only @FoxNews so reported…doesn’t fit the Mainstream Media narrative.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
There’s a big problem with Trump’s denial, however — the president isn’t accurately describing what Crooks accuses him of doing while she worked for an investment firm in Trump Tower called Bayrock in 2006.
Crooks does not accuse Trump of forcing himself upon her in the lobby of Trump Tower. Instead, as the Post story makes clear, Crooks says Trump forcibly kissed her early one morning while the two of them waited for an elevator in a quiet area on the 24th floor of the building outside Bayrock’s office, where Trump sometimes dropped by to discuss his business partnerships with the firm.
From the Post’s piece:
It was early in the morning, and the office was mostly empty. She walked toward Trump, who she remembers was standing by himself in the small waiting area near the elevators. She held out her hand, intent on introducing herself not as a fan or as a secretary but as a business partner.
“Mr. Trump, I wanted to say hi, since our companies do a little work together,” she remembered telling him that day, and then, before she understood what was happening, she remembered Trump becoming the second man ever to kiss her.
According to the Post, Crooks says that after she introduced herself to Trump, he “took hold of my hand and held me in place.”
“He started kissing me on one cheek, then the other cheek,” she said. “He was talking to me in between kisses, asking where I was from, or if I wanted to be a model. He wouldn’t let go of my hand, and then he went right in and started kissing me on the lips.”
“It felt like a long kiss,” Crooks added. “The whole thing probably lasted two minutes, maybe less.”
Trump’s suggestion that security footage would exonerate him is especially disingenuous, given that Crooks has publicly asked Trump to release the security footage from the 24th floor on the day she says Trump assaulted her. Trump has ignored her request.
Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006. Let’s clear this up for everyone. It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself. https://t.co/ir7EEKoXRU https://t.co/GmkkZ5jUc7
— Rachel Crooks for Ohio (@RachelforOhio) February 20, 2018
Crooks’ account of Trump forcibly kissing her — an account similar to those of other women who have accused Trump of assault — is also corroborated by emails she sent in the immediate aftermath of the incident. From the Post:
Maybe the proof was the email she had sent to her mother, from the Bayrock office in New York, at 1:27 that afternoon in 2006: “Hey Ma, my day started off rough…had a weird incident with Mr. Trump.”
Or the email she sent a few hours later to her sister at 3:05 p.m.: “I must just appear to be some dumb girl that he can take advantage of…ugh!”
Or the email she sent a few days after that to another relative: “Ah yes, the Donald kiss…very creepy man, let me tell you!”
The White House’s official position is that each of the 19 women who have accused Trump of assault is lying.
While Trump now wonders why anybody would assault a woman in a public place where cameras might be present, the alleged incident with Cooks happened just months after he was caught on tape bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent. On the so-called Access Hollywood tape, which was recorded in the NBC Studios parking lot in September 2005, Trump can be heard saying, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p***y. You can do anything.”
The recording of Trump making those remarks was published by the Washington Post on October 7, 2016 — days before the New York Times first published Crooks’ account of her alleged assault by Trump.
Trump’s denial of the Crooks allegations comes days after the White House issued an odd non-denial in response to an in-depth New Yorker piece about a consensual affair between Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal that McDougal says began in June 2006. And the New Yorker’s piece about McDougal — who was reportedly paid $150,000 by a Trump ally to hush up her story — came on the heels of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, admitting that he paid $130,000 to adult film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels allegedly had an affair with Trump that also began in 2006.
Crooks is currently running for a seat in the state legislature in her native state of Ohio.