GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump lashed out Thursday at new reports that he has sexually assaulted multiple women over the years, even attacking the physical appearance of one of his accusers.
In 2005, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and his wife, Melania, for a story on their first anniversary. Before Melania arrived, however, Trump took Stoynoff into a room alone.
“I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff wrote on Wednesday.
She said Trump also told her, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
At his rally on Thursday, Trump questioned Stoynoff’s claims, arguing that she wasn’t credible because she didn’t come forward sooner. He also implied that he wouldn’t have been interested in sexually assaulting her anyway because of the way she looks:
Why wasn’t it part of the story that appeared 20, or 12, years ago? ... I was one of the biggest stars on television with “The Apprentice,” and it would have been one of the biggest stories of the year. Think of it. She’s doing this story on Melania, who’s pregnant at the time, and Donald Trump. Our one-year anniversary. And she said I made inappropriate advances.
And by the way, the area was a public area. People all over the place. Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
The fact is that many victims of sexual assault wait years before coming forward with their story. It doesn’t mean they’re not telling the truth. Stoynoff herself explained that she didn’t make it part of her story because she wondered if people would believe her.
“But, like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (’It’s not like he raped me…’); I doubted my recollection and my reaction,” she wrote Wednesday. “I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted PEOPLE feature killed.”
Trump frequently comments on women’s looks. During the GOP primary, he said of rival candidate Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” He also shamed then-Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining weight in 1996 and has said that a “person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
UPDATE: On Thursday evening, a lawyer for Melania Trump wrote a letter taking issue with one minor part of Stoynoff’s recent story accusing her husband of assault. Specifically, the letter demands that People retract and apologize for the description of a brief encounter between the reporter and Melania some months after the alleged assault.
Language has been added to clarify what Melania Trump’s lawyer is demanding.