Jessica Leeds wanted to punch the television screen when she saw Donald Trump insist at the second US Presidential debate he would never touch or grope a woman without her permission. He may have bragged about it , he had professed, but would never do it.
Now two women have told The New York Times that Trump did exactly that to them. Leeds, who was 38 at the time (she is 74 now), has said he groped her in the first class cabin of a commercial flight, and Rachel Crooks, who was 22 then, has said he kissed her on the mouth as they waited for an elevator in 2005.
Neither woman complained to authorities, but did tell those close to them about their respective encounters, and Times verified with them, adding to a growing list of women who have come forward in recent days to allege being treated inappropriately by Trump.
Contestants of his beauty pageants have said he was in the habit of walking into their changing rooms where they could be in various stages of undress. He, in fact, has boasted about doing that in interviews to radio talk show host Howard Stern.
Tasha Dixon, who competed as Miss Arizona in 2001, confirmed to a news channel that the GOP nominee would indeed walk into pageant dressing rooms unannounced.
But Leeds and Crooks’ accounts are likely to make it difficult for him to pass off his remarks on the 2005 tape as “locker-room talk”, as he has tried to do since its release last week, that sparked countrywide outrage and compelled many Republicans to withdraw their endorsements of him and distance themselves from him. The nominee, whose polls numbers have fallen precipitously since, has reacted angrily calling them “disloyal”.
His response to the Times reporter who called him for his comments was the same. After denying anything of the kind alleged by Leeds and Crooks happened, he yelled at her angrily, called her a “disgusting human being” and threatened to sue the publication if it carried the story. It did, on Wednesday.
Trump campaign called the article “fiction” in a statement.
Leeds told the Times Trump was in the seat next to her on the flight more than three decades ago —he didn’t have his own plane back then. And after dinner, when the crew had cleared the tables, Trump lifted the armrest that separated their seats and began touching her.
He grabbed her breasts, she said, and tried to put a hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” she has said. “His hands were everywhere.” It ended only when she moved to the back of the plane.
Crooks, who worked in a real estate investment company housed in Trump Tower in Manhattan, met Trump while waiting for an elevator in the building. As her company had business dealings with him, she introduced herself to him, and shook hands.
He didn’t let go of her hand, and began kissing her on her cheeks, and then “kissed me directly on the mouth”.
This happened the same year as the recording, 2005, on which he had bragged about how he was “automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait”.
So when Trump said, in response to CNN’s Andersen Cooper if he had ever done any of the things he spoke about on the tape, said he did not, Leeds told NYT, “I wanted to punch the screen.”
Watch Trump’s lewd ‘locker-room banter’