More allegations emerged Wednesday involving Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and what multiple women described as incidents of groping or kissing them on an airplane, inside Trump Tower in New York and at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. And the Clinton campaign is facing more controversy stemming from thousands of hacked emails written by staffers and published by WikiLeaks.
A common thread in the reports featured in the New York Times, Palm Beach Postand People magazine were women seeing the video that emerged last week in which Trump described kissing or grabbing women without their consent and his subsequent denial at Sunday’s debate with opponent Hillary Clinton.
“No, I have not,” Trump said when debate moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN asked if the candidate had done the activities he boasted of in the tape.
The Times story featured two women, including a businesswoman who described sitting next to Trump on a flight to New York. She said he grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” Jessica Leeds told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”
The other woman, Rachel Cooks, worked as a receptionist for a real estate firm located in Trump Tower. She said that in 2005 she introduced herself to Trump outside an elevator, but he then did not let go of her hand and kissed her on the mouth.
“I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” Cooks said.
The Times also quoted Trump saying, “None of this ever took place.”
His campaign later called it an attempt to smear the candidate.
“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 the campaign for president should say it all,” the statement said.
And attorneys representing Trump sent a letter to Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet demanding the newspaper remove the article from its website and issue and apology.
“Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se. It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”
Trump has often criticized the media’s reporting on his campaign, including singling out what he calls the “failing New York Times.”
In the Palm Beach Post story, Mindy McGillivray recounted helping a photographer friend at an event at Mar-a-Lago. She said she was standing next to Trump and his now-wife Melania when she felt a grab and turned to see Trump look away quickly.
“It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped,” McGillivray said.
The other account involving Mar-a-Lago came from Natasha Stoynoff, who once covered Trump for People.
She wrote that she was working on a story about Donald and Melania Trump’s first anniversary when he took her on a tour.
“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,” Stoynoff said.
She said that afterward Trump added, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
People reported a Trump spokeswoman said: “This never happened. There is no merit or veracity to this fabricated story.”
A Clinton campaign statement called the new allegations “disturbing.”
“These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words,” spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign faced more criticism of its own on Wednesday with the latest batch of hacked emails released by WikiLeaks.
The messages included correspondence from 2011 between Palmieri and John Halpin, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.
Halpin wrote that the country’s most powerful conservatives are all Catholic and called their politics “an amazing bastardization of the faith.”
“They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy,” he said.
Palmieri replied by writing, “Catholicism is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
Another 2011 email sent to current Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta from the head of a progressive group called for a “Catholic Spring,” adapting the pro-democracy “Arab Spring” in the Middle East.
“There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle-ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church,” Voices for Progress President Sandy Newman wrote.
Trump told supporters Wednesday the emails show Clinton staffers “viciously attacking” Catholics and Evangelicals.
“It’s just the latest evidence of the hatred that the Clinton campaign has for everyday faithful Americans,” he said. “If you’re a person of faith, I think you’re gonna vote for Donald Trump, and I have such endorsements and such support.”
Podesta said an FBI investigation into his leaked emails is part of a wider FBI probe into the suspected Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails — a charge that Russia denies.
Podesta alleged that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone had “advance knowledge” of the leaks. Stone has admitted he has been in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Stone also tweeted in August that WikiLeaks would attack Clinton and Podesta.
Podesta says Russia may be trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election to favor Trump, who has said he admires President Vladimir Putin.
Other leaked emails from the Democratic Party include allegations that Clinton campaign officials tried to discredit former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, and suggestions the campaign should laugh-off the controversy surrounding Clinton’s State Department emails.