The Associated PressGREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Battered by sordid new accusations of sexual misbehavior, Donald Trump fought back in ever-more-remarkable fashion Friday, acting out one woman’s allegation onstage and suggesting another was not attractive enough to merit his attention. He defiantly denied a week’s worth of accusations that have all but consumed his presidential bid just over three weeks before the election.
“She would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” Trump said of one woman in a rambling attack on his female accusers as he campaigned in battleground North Carolina.
The New York businessman said his staff wanted him to avoid the topic altogether but that he couldn’t resist defending himself. He blamed the growing story on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and an international media conspiracy, describing his female accusers as “sick” people seeking fame or money.
“The only thing I can say is hopefully, hopefully, our patriotic movement will overcome this terrible deception,” he declared.
Trump assailed The New York Times in particular, noting its connection to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who is a major shareholder in the media company.
Spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub later said Slim doesn’t know Trump at all “and is not the least bit interested in his personal life.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, promised Friday morning the campaign would soon release evidence against the women that would show Trump’s innocence. More than 12 hours later, the Trump campaign released a statement in which an accuser’s cousin said he was “shocked and bewildered” by her account.
John Barry of Mission Viejo, California, said in the statement that Summer Zervos, a former contestant on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump.”
Zervos said during a Friday news conference that the former reality television star became sexually aggressive at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007.
Pence remarked at “the enormous coverage of these, of these really unfounded allegations, unestablished allegations, compared to an avalanche of emails coming out of Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary of state.”
Indeed, Friday marked another day on which WikiLeaks released thousands of emails that had been stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal account.
The new batch showed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign asked former President Bill Clinton to cancel a speech to an investment firm last year because of concerns that the Clintons might appear to be too cozy with Wall Street just as she was about to announce her candidacy.
Clinton aides say in the emails that Hillary Clinton did not want her husband to cancel the speech but was eventually convinced. The Clintons’ paid speeches have been an issue throughout the campaign, particularly lucrative speeches to Wall Street.
The Clinton campaign, citing information it says is from the FBI, says the hacks are being investigated as part of a broader attack on Democratic Party leaders that may involve Russia.
Two more women, meanwhile, came forward Friday with allegations against Trump.
Zervos, appearing at a news conference with attorney Gloria Allred, said Trump kissed her open-mouthed and touched her breasts in a private room.
And in a story published online Friday, Kristin Anderson told The Washington Post that she was sitting on a couch with friends at a New York nightclub in the early 1990s when a hand reached up her skirt and touched her through her underwear.