Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump flatly denied during the presidential debate on Sunday that he had ever engaged in the sort of aggressive sexual behavior he detailed during a 2005 taped conversation with Billy Bush, at the time an “Access Hollywood” host.
“Are you saying that ... you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?” debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked, referring to what Trump can be heard saying in audio The Washington Post published Friday.
Trump stumbled, and Cooper repeated the question: “Have you ever done those things?”
“Women have respect for me, and I will tell you: No, I have not,” Trump replied, adding, “I’m going to make our country safe.”
Yet a review of legal records, investigative reporting and Trump’s own books reveal that the GOP nominee has behaved in precisely the way he denies ― kissing and groping women without their consent ― since at least the 1970s.
Below is a brief summary of what some women have reported about Trump.
In May, The New York Times quoted Temple Taggart, who had been a contestant in a Trump-owned beauty pageant.
“He kissed me directly on the lips,” the 1997 Miss Utah USA told the publication. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”
Trump refuted Taggart’s account, telling the Times that no such interaction had occurred ― and moreover, that he was reluctant to kiss strangers on the lips.
In the newly released tape, however, Trump can be heard saying just the opposite.
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says before meeting a woman. “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
CNN host Erin Burnett reported a similar story last week, saying one of her friends described a nonconsensual kiss with the real estate mogul.
Burnett relayed what she said her friend had told her:
“Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested I take them also. He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on lips. I was really freaked out. ... After (the meeting), Trump asked me to come into his office alone. Was really unsure what to do. ... Figured I could handle myself. Anyway, once in his office he kept telling me how special I am and gave me his cell, asked me to call him. I ran the hell out of there.”
Former model Jill Harth recently spoke to New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff about having felt victimized by Trump.
She said Trump groped her under a table and grabbed her crotch during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route,” she told the Times.
At the time, Harth and her then-boyfriend ran a pageant company that Trump was interested in forming a business partnership with. A subsequent lawsuit alleged that Trump also tried to have sex with a female friend of theirs, but that she fought him off.
But Harth’s description of Trump grabbing her by the crotch reads like a near-exact account of the kind of behavior Trump bragged about in the 11-year-old tape released Friday.
“When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump can be heard telling Bush. “You can do anything. ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump and his presidential campaign have denied the allegations made by Harth, Taggart, Burnett’s source and other women who have complained about Trump’s behavior in the workplace.
This list includes a number of former contestants and staffers on Trump’s hit NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” who were quoted anonymously in a recent Associated Press story describing what they called Trump’s lewd and often demeaning treatment of women.
USA Today on Sunday published a story detailing more than 20 lawsuits alleging Trump and his companies of mistreating women ― with cases spanning more than 40 years.
The political question facing Trump now, as he goes against the first female major-party nominee, is whether to continue courting the votes of undecided women, or whether to buckle down on his traditional base of support in white men.
It remains to be seen which, if any, prominent Republican women are still willing to campaign alongside Trump in the coming weeks. Those who do remain in Trump’s camp certainly have their work cut out for them.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.