Lashing back at sexual assault allegations, Trump calls accusers 'horrible horrible liars'

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ABC's Kenneth Moton has the latest.

Lashing back, Donald Trump heatedly rejected the growing list of sexual assault allegations against him as "pure fiction" on Thursday, hammering his female accusers as "horrible, horrible liars" as the already-nasty presidential campaign sank further into charges of attacks on women.

Campaign foe Hillary Clinton said "the disturbing stories just keep on coming" about her Republican opponent, but she let first lady Michelle Obama's passionate response carry the day. Obama, in battleground New Hampshire, warned that the New York billionaire's behavior "is not something we can ignore."

After years of working to end "this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect ... we're hearing these exact same things on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it," Obama declared, her voice cracking with emotion. "We can't expose our children to this any longer, not for another minute, let alone for four years."

With Election Day less than four weeks away, Republican Trump was again forced to defend himself against allegations of sexual misconduct, five days after a video surfaced in which he bragged about kissing and groping women without their permission.

Several women levied allegations of sexual assault against Trump on Wednesday in a series of interviews, adding to the already damaging revelations about the Republican presidential nominee's aggressive sexual comments about women.

The New York Times and the Palm Beach Post on Wednesday reported stories about three women who alleged Trump had inappropriately touched them. Separately, a People Magazine reporter wrote a detailed first-person account of being attacked by Trump while interviewing the businessman and his wife, Melania Trump.

Trump said the claims "are all fabricated."

Speaking at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, Donald Trump denied the allegations and called them "coordinated, vicious attack" from the media and Hillary Clinton campaign.

Trump said he has evidence to disprove allegations of sexual assault and will release it at the "appropriate time."

"These vicious claims about me, of inappropriate conduct with women, are totally and absolutely false. And the Clintons know it," Trump declared. His accusers, he said, "are horrible people. They're horrible, horrible liars."

Hillary Clinton says at a surprise appearance at a San Francisco campaign office that the nation has "already learned who Donald Trump is." She says the election is about "who we are and what we stand for."

Clinton is pointing to First Lady Michelle Obama's remarks in New Hampshire earlier in the day, saying she "not only made a compelling and strong case about the stakes in the election but about who we are as Americans."

"The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman, it is cruel, it is frightening, and the truth is it hurts," Obama said. She added, "We can't expose our children to this any longer, not for another minute, let alone for four years."

Clinton tells volunteers at a call center that "we cannot let this pessimism, this dark and divisive and dangerous vision for America take hold in anybody's heart."

Earlier, in a letter from his attorneys, Trump demanded the Times retract what the campaign called a "libelous article" and apologize.

"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," Jason Miller, Trump's campaign spokesman, said in a separate statement. "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. Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton's candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack. This is a sad day for the Times."

Trump is reportedly drafting a lawsuit against the newspaper for defamation, three senior level sources confirm to ABC. One senior level source declared "this is war," while another within the campaign said they are digging into the possibility of revealing more accusers of Bill Clinton.

The Times said Jessica Leeds, 74, of New York, told the newspaper she encountered Trump on an airline flight three decades ago. Leeds said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

"He was like an octopus," she told the newspaper. "His hands were everywhere."

Rachel Crooks, of Ohio, said she met Trump at Trump Tower in 2005 when she was 22.

Crooks said she was a receptionist for a real estate investment and development company located at Trump Tower and met Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning. She introduced herself to the celebrity businessman, she said.

They shook hands but Trump would not let go, Crooks said, and he began kissing her cheeks and then kissed her on the mouth.

"It was so inappropriate," she told the newspaper. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Trump denied the accusations, telling the Times, "None of this ever took place." The letter from his lawyers said unless the paper removed the article from its website and ceased further publication, it would pursue "all available actions and remedies."

ABC News has not independently confirmed the New York Times report.

Separately on Wednesday, former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon said Donald Trump walked into a dress rehearsal for the pageant in 2001 while the contestants were "half-naked" and the women were told to "fawn all over him," according to an interview. Her comments appear to match up with what Trump told Howard Stern in an interview in 2005 - that he was "allowed to go in" to the dressing area backstage because he was "the owner of the pageant."

Additionally, the Palm Beach Post in Florida reported that Mindy McGillivray, 36, told the newspaper that Trump groped her at his Mar-a-Lago estate 13 years ago. People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff also posted a story about a 2005 incident at Mar-a-Lago where, she wrote, Trump "was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat." The Trump campaign said there was no "merit or veracity" to either story.

Hillary Clinton's communication's director, Jennifer Palmieri, said in a statement the latest run of allegations "sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women."

The interviews come just days after the publication of a recording from 2005, on which Trump made a series of vulgar and sexually predatory comments about women. While waiting to make a cameo appearance on a soap opera, he bragged to then-"Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush that his fame allowed him to force himself on women.

"And when you're a star, they let you do it," Trump said, adding later: "Grab them by the p----. You can do anything."

Trump has apologized for the comments on the recording, but also dismissed them as "locker room talk" and a distraction from the campaign. Asked during Sunday's presidential debate whether he ever engaged in the sort of conduct he described in 2005, he said: "No. I do not."

Trump's campaign signaled on Thursday it would spend the election's final month relitigating Bill Clinton's marital affairs and unproven charges of sexual assault, as well as what Trump says is Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's role in intimidating the women who were involved.

Taken together, the stories about Trump and his retorts about Bill Clinton have plunged an already rancorous campaign to new lows. The real estate mogul has also aggressively charged that Hillary Clinton not only needs to be defeated in November but also imprisoned: "Honestly, she should be locked up," he said Thursday.

Hillary Clinton, who is on pace to become America's first female president if her lead in the polls holds, has tried to stay above the fray. She has yet to respond directly to Trump's decision to resurrect accusations about her husband.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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politicsdonald trump2016 electionpolitics
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