Donald Trump vehemently denied allegations that he had sexually assaulted women, saying it “never, ever happened.”
“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” Trump said at a rally in front of his supporters in Florida today.
“The claims are preposterous, ludicrous, and defy truth, common sense, and logic. We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time, very soon,” Trump said.
The statement came as at least six women have come forward saying that Trump forcibly kissed or groped them against their will, according to reports in the New York Times, the Palm Beach Post, People Magazine, and NBC News.
Trump’s campaign threatened to sue the Times over the story, but the paper today released a strongly-worded retort, saying that “the essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women … Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”
The paper also said that the issue was of “national importance” and that if Trump disagreed, the paper welcomed “the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”
The sexual assault allegations surfaced just days after the appearance of a leaked video of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women.
For First Lady Michelle Obama, the comments and allegations are “enough.”
At a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire Thursday afternoon, Obama gave an emotional speech about Trump’s effect on her, which she said she feels personally. The allegations came just a day after Obama hosted events at the White House for Day of the Girl Child, which seeks to empower young girls around the world.
“We saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women, and I can’t believe I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way I couldn’t have predicted.”
Obama said that the news cycle reminded her of the “sick sinking feeling” of being catcalled on the street or leered at by a male coworker who “stands a little too close,” and of the disrespect of women’s bodies and the cruel belief that “you can do anything you want to a woman.”
“The truth is it hurts,” she said.
Obama’s speech was one of the many powerful reactions to the allegations that surfaced over the past day.
Two women told the New York Times that Trump assaulted them. Jessie Leeds, 74, told the Times she was on a plane seated next to Trump in the 1970s when he touched her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. Rachel Crooks said that Trump kissed her on the mouth near an elevator bank at an office building in 2005 when she was 22.
Mindy Macgillivray, 36, told The Palm Beach Post she was groped by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2003, and Natasha Stoynoff, a People magazine reporter, said Trump pushed her up against a wall and forcibly made out with her at Mar-a-Lago while she was writing a story about his first anniversary with wife Melania.
Jill Harth told the Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof that in 1992 Trump pushed her against a wall in then-wife Ivanka Trump’s bedroom, tried to kiss her, and put his hands on her.
And former Miss USA contestant Temple Taggart McDowell told NBC News that Trump kissed her on the lips twice in 1997 without permission.
Trump vehemently denied the reports Wednesday, telling a Times reporter “None of this ever took place,” and tweeting that it was “total fabrication.
The Trump campaign told People, "This never happened. There is no merit or veracity to this fabricated story."
"For the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous," spokesman Jason Miller said in the 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."
Trump’s lawyers then sent the Times a letter warning of a lawsuit.
"Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se," Marc E. Kasowitz wrote. "We hereby demand that you immediately cease any further publication of this article, remove it from your website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology. Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies."
Times reporter Megan Twohey also said that Trump called her a “disgusting human being” for asking about the women’s claims.
CBS News also published a video on Wednesday night of Trump seeing a young girl at Trump Tower in 1992 and saying that he was “going to be dating” her in 10 years.
Earlier this week, four former Miss Teen USA contestants told BuzzFeed News that Trump walked into their dressing room while the girls were changing.
The series of allegations led to divided reactions on social media, with many Twitter commentators saying that the timing of all of the allegations seemed coordinated while others were horrified by Trump’s alleged behavior.
The tweets in #NextFakeTrumpVictim are questioning why women don't come forward earlier.— 🌈 (@leahmcelrath) October 13, 2016
Which is a PERFECT example of why we don't.
"He engaged in the textbook definition of sexual assault" —A stunned Joe Biden on the Trump tape: pic.twitter.com/O9u6rP3AsH— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 13, 2016
There's an election in 27 days and half a dozen women have accused the GOP presidential nominee of sexual assault ... THIS EVENING— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) October 13, 2016