Two women have come forward to claim that Donald Trump touched them inappropriately in separate incidents over the past few decades, according to The New York Times, but Trump himself has lashed out at the paper and threatened to sue.
Jessica Leeds, now 74, claims that she sat next to Trump on a flight in the early 1980s when he grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt, according to the Times.
"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."
Rachel Crooks claims than in 2005, when she was 22 and working as a receptionist for a real estate investment company that was located in Trump tower, she ran into Trump outside an elevator and introduced herself. Trump began kissing her, she told the Times, recalling the encounter as "inappropriate."
Trump lashed out at one of the reporters who wrote the story, telling her that "none of this ever took place" and that he would sue the Times if it published the piece.
Trump's campaign said the report is "fiction."
"This entire article is fiction, and for The New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous," Trump campaign senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement.
The story reflects the increased scrutiny that Trump has faced since Friday, when The Washington Post published an "Access Hollywood" recording of a conversation Trump had with co-host Billy Bush. In it, Trump makes lewd comments and talks of grabbing women by their sexual organs.
At Sunday's presidential debate, Trump was asked about the comments. He said that he had apologized for them, but said that he had never actually committed sexual assault. That assertion is what compelled Leeds to share her account, she told a reporter.
At a press conference Tuesday, attorney Gloria Allred said that she had been contacted by women who have shared stories of "inappropriate conduct by Mr. Trump," but she declined to go into details.
The release of the video plunged Trump and the Republican Party into a crisis that has jeopardized his chances of winning the White House, when he was already lagging Clinton in national opinion polls, and has possibly put Republican control of the U.S. Congress in danger.
He was chastised by Republican leaders, and some called on him to drop out of the presidential race.
Within hours of the Times report, several other media outlets published similar reports. People magazine published a detailed first-person account from one of its reporters, Natasha Stoynoff.
Stoynoff said Trump pinned her against a wall at his Florida estate in 2005 and kissed her as she struggled to get away.
"I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat," Stoynoff said.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the People story late on Wednesday. The article included a denial from a Trump spokeswoman who called the story a "politically motivated fictional pile-on."
Around the same time, the Palm Beach Post reported a claim by Mindy McGillivray, 36, a woman in South Florida, that Trump had grabbed her bottom 13 years ago while she was working at his Mar a Lago estate as a photographer's assistant.
"There is no truth to this whatsoever," Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Post. McGillivray could not be reached for comment.
Trump escalated his attacks on U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday, after Ryan said he was no longer going to campaign for or defend Trump and advised House Republicans not to support the White House candidate if they did not want to.
Trump told thousands of supporters jammed into a livestock arena in Ocala, Florida, that Ryan and others had not congratulated him on his debate performance, and the crowd booed in sympathy.
"There is a whole deal going on there. There is a whole deal going on and we're going to figure it out. I always figure things out. But there's a whole sinister deal going on," Trump said.
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