Donald J. Trump is having difficulty escaping from his past. His supporters continue to speak of forgiveness, but more examples of his lecherous behavior are surfacing.
“I just start kissing them,” Mr. Trump said on the now infamous Access Hollywood tape. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” Though Trump has dismissed this as hyperbole and “locker room talk,” two women are sharing stories that suggest otherwise.
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During the second presidential debate, Trump made it clear that he had never actually done what he brags about doing on the tape. “No,” he declared when pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I have not.”
Jessica Leeds, 74, says otherwise. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview with the New York Times.
More than 30 years ago, Leeds was working for a paper company. By coincidence, Leeds ended up seated next to Trump on a New York bound flight.
After takeoff, Trump made a pass at Leeds. She says he lifted the arm rest between them and touched her breast and tried to slip his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Leeds stood up and moved to the back of the plane to avoid Trump. “It was an assault,” she said.
The second woman who is now openly discussing Trump’s behaviors is Rachel Crooks. Crooks worked as a receptionist for the Bayrock Group–a firm that leased office space in Trump Tower in Manhattan.
In 2005, when Crooks was 22, she met Trump outside the elevator in the building. She introduced herself to him, and he shook her hand. But it didn’t stop there. Trump then held onto her hand and kissed her on the cheek. Then, Crooks said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
“It was so inappropriate,” she told the times. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Clint Hackenburg, Crooks’ boyfriend, remembers the day. “I think that what was more upsetting than him kissing her was that she felt like she couldn’t do anything to him because of his position,” he said. “She was 22. She was a secretary. It was her first job out of college. I remember her saying, ‘I can’t do anything to this guy, because he’s Donald Trump.’”
“People should know,” Crooks said of Mr. Trump, “this behavior is pervasive and it is real.”
How is Trump responding to the allegations? He’s not taking it, or the NY Times story lightly. “None of this ever took place,” said Trump, who reportedly shouted at The Times reporter who was seeking a statement. .
“You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter. Then he threatened to sue the paper. “I don’t do it,” he said adamantly. “I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”