Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to denigrate former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who he once body-shamed and called “Miss Piggy,” while simultaneously claiming that he “had nothing to do with this person.”
“She did not do well. She had a lot of difficulty, and, you know, they wanted to fire her. The company itself wanted to fire her. I saved her job,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
Machado gained renewed attention during the presidential debate Monday night, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton used her story to illustrate Trump’s history of misogyny. Machado has said that after she won the 1996 Miss Universe pageant, Trump, who directed the contest until last year, verbally abused her about her weight and forced her to diet and exercise.
O’Reilly asked Trump to respond to Machado.
Trump bragged that he “saved her job.” But he repeatedly claimed he barely knew Machado. (And, in typical Trump fashion, he bragged about his ownership of the pageant, which he said he sold for “a tremendous price” last year.)
“I mean, look, I hardly know this person. This was a person 20 years ago,” he said. “She wasn’t a successful, you know, I sold the Miss Universe contest for a tremendous price about, you know, six months ago. Worked out great.”
Yet Trump publicly discussed his efforts to get Machado to lose weight in several television and radio interviews at the time. He sent a camera crew to ambush her during a workout at a New York gym.
“I will bet you if you put up and added up all the time I spoke to her, probably less than five minutes,” Trump told O’Reilly. “I had nothing to do with this person, but they wanted to fire her. I saved her job because I said that’s what I was going to do. Look what happened? Look what I get out of it? I get nothing.”
Then he claimed that he “couldn’t care less,” and again claimed Machado was “somebody I don’t know.”
Machado, a Clinton supporter, has been outspoken about her experiences in an effort to advocate against Trump.
“I never thought, and I never imagined then 20 years later, I’ll be in this position ... watching this guy again doing stupid things and stupid comments,” she said on Tuesday. “I’m not beauty queen, I’m not Miss Universe anymore. I’m a worker, I’m a mother ... I have a family, I have a career, I have a business and, you know, if my story can open eyes for this election, that is what I’m trying to do.”
Trump, meanwhile, has continued to ridicule her weight in several interviews this week.
“She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” he said on Tuesday.
Trump told O’Reilly Machado’s story won’t affect female voters’ perception of him, citing a poll from “the Google.”
“I think I’m doing well, and I have been doing well with, especially with married women,” he said. “The Google just came out, and it was the first big post-debate poll, and we’re doing very well.”
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.