— Update at bottom —
On Wednesday evening, numerous women stepped forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault. As ThinkProgress previously documented, the allegations track closely with Trump’s description of how he treats women in a secretly recorded 2005 video released last Friday.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them,” Trump said in the video. “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.” (The most infamous line from the video comes a bit later, when Trump says, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”)
During a speech in Florida on Thursday, Trump denied the allegations and smeared his accusers. Part of his defense involved suggesting the women aren’t sufficiently attractive for him to sexually assault by imploring listeners to “take a look” at them.
“These events never, ever happened, and the people that said them, meekly, fully understand,” Trump said. “You take a look at these people, you study these people, and you’ll understand also.”
Trump: “These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false” https://t.co/PRIjJbPAUI
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 13, 2016
If that was too subtle, Trump was more direct when talking about former People writer Natasha Stoynoff. In a piece published last night, Stoynoff alleges she was assaulted by Trump in December 2005 — the same year Trump made the “just kiss” comments caught on tape — while working on a profile of Trump and his wife Melania pegged to their first anniversary.
From her piece:
Our photo team shot the Trumps on the lush grounds of their Florida estate, and I interviewed them about how happy their first year of marriage had been. When we took a break for the then-very-pregnant Melania to go upstairs and change wardrobe for more photos, Donald wanted to show me around the mansion. There was one “tremendous” room in particular, he said, that I just had to see…
We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.
During his speech, Trump questioned why Stoynoff waited more than a decade before going public with her story — she says she was triggered by hearing Trump categorically deny he’s ever sexually assaulted anyone during the second presidential debate — and then went after her looks.
“Take a look. You take a look,” Trump said. “Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
Yeah, Trump just basically said that People writer Natasha Stoynoff is too ugly for him to sexually assault pic.twitter.com/xggNicNIcb
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 13, 2016
As Trump’s speech was unfolding, former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields suggested part of Trump’s strategy in going hard after his accusers might be to discourage other women who are thinking about coming forward from doing so.
Sad, but I'm sure there are more women Trump sexually assaulted who are watching this & thinking its best to keep quiet than go through this
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) October 13, 2016
Last night, Washington Post political reporter Robert Costa tweeted, “Based on my reporting, Trump orbit on edge about possible coming wave of allegations.”
UPDATE (10/14/16): During a rally in North Carolina on Friday, Trump again cited the looks of his accusers in an effort to make a case their claims are unfounded.
In reference to Jessica Leeds, who this week told the New York Times that Trump molested her on an airplane more than 30 years ago, Trump said, “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Man, you don’t know, that would not be my first choice.”
At another point during his speech, Trump mimicked two of the alleged sexual assaults:
My God. Here is Trump mimicking the sexual assault motions that he has been accused of. pic.twitter.com/T0OzW5isrE
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 14, 2016