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Women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct demand Congress probe

The demand by Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks and Samantha Holvey found immediate backers, with 56 Democratic lawmakers calling for a probe into the US president.

world Updated: Dec 12, 2017 21:23 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
(Left to right) Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey at a press conference in Manhattan, New York on December 11, 2017.
(Left to right) Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey at a press conference in Manhattan, New York on December 11, 2017.(Reuters)

The #MeToo movement sweeping through the US reached the White House on Monday, with three women renewing allegations of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump before he became president.

The accusers — Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks and Samantha Holvey — repeated their allegations, coming together for the first time at a joint news briefing. They demanded Congress investigate the allegations, a call that found immediate backers — by the end of the day, 56 Democratic lawmakers sought a probe, saying in a statement: “We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr Trump.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted: “President Trump should resign. But, of course, he won’t hold himself accountable. Therefore, Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him.”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters: “This took place long before he was elected to be president. And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.”

On Tuesday, Trump referred to the accusations as “fake” and “fabricated” in a tweet.

He also lashed out at Gillibrand — who represents his home state of New York — calling her a “lightweight”, adding that the senator “would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump”.

Trump and the White House may have aggressively pushed back against the allegations, but there is also some nervousness among Trump’s supporters over the context and the timing of their reappearance, reports said.

The #MeToo movement has led to resignations and ousters across the country, and many Republicans have called for their candidate in Alabama to quit the race over sexual misconduct charges.

“Now it’s just like, ‘All right let’s try Round 2, the environment is different, let’s try again,” Holvey, a former contestant in the Miss USA pageant, which Trump had owned, said in an interview on NBC on Monday, appearing jointly with Leeds and Crooks, hours before the news conference. Holvey has alleged Trump had come around to the make-up rooms where the contestants were getting ready and wore nothing but gowns.

Leeds has alleged Trump groped her on a flight in the 1970s. “After the meal was cleared, all of a sudden, he was all over me, kissing and groping and groping and kissing,” she said. “My memory of it was, nothing was said. He didn’t say, ‘Oh, by the way,’ and I didn’t go, ‘Eek’ or ‘Help’ or whatever; it was just this silent groping going on.”

And Crooks, who worked at Trump Tower, has said he kissed her repeatedly at the elevator.

In all, more than a dozen women have come out to accuse Trump of sexually inappropriate since the surfacing of the now infamous Access Hollywood audio-tape, on which he bragged about forcing himself on women, groping them and sexually assaulting them, which he later sought to dismiss as locker-room talk.