NEW YORK ― Four women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault are demanding that Congress investigate their claims.
Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks on Monday morning told NBC News’ Megyn Kelly about their alleged experiences with Trump. Lisa Boyne, a fourth accuser, joined them for a news conference later that day.
Leeds, Holvey and Crooks reflected on what it was like to watch Trump get elected after they had accused him of sexual harassment and assault.
“It was heartbreaking last year when we all — we’re private citizens — for us to put ourselves out there to try to show America who this man is and especially how he views women and for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’” Holvey said. “It hurt.”
“This is not even 16 individual instances ― this is a lifetime of him and how he treats women.”
A White House spokesperson responded to the three women’s accusations in a statement to Kelly.
“These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgement by delivering a decisive victory,” the statement read. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”
Crooks called the statement “laughable.”
Leeds told HuffPost she isn’t optimistic that sexual misconduct allegations against Trump will prompt his resignation, despite the #MeToo reckoning affecting Hollywood and some political circles.
“Unless Congress gets the courage to act as a body and hold him accountable, then nothing is going to happen,” she said Monday.
“He really seems to be Teflon because it’s not just the sexual aggression issues,” she added. “He’s not a good businessman, he’s a lousy administrator... This year has been a disaster ― except when he describes it. He’s just so out of touch with reality.”
At the news conference, all four women urged Congress to open an investigation into the sexual harassment and assault allegations against the president. Nineteen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
Leeds addressed the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men, including film producer Harvey Weinstein, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
“It became apparent that in some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously and people were being held accountable ― except for our president,” she said. “We’re at the position now where in some areas of our society, people are being held accountable for unwanted behavior, but we are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is.”
Crooks pointed to the recent investigation into Franken’s alleged inappropriate behavior as an example.
“If they were willing to investigate Sen. Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” she said. “We shouldn’t let politicians get away with this.”
“This isn’t a partisan issue,” Holvey said, adding that she finds Trump’s recent endorsement of Moore “absolutely disgusting.”
Leeds said that she, Holvey and Crooks do not welcome the attention they’ve gotten since coming forward.
“None of us are comfortable with this,” she said. “If we had been comfortable being a star, we would have done something else with our lives, but this is important.”
Boyne, who alleges that Trump looked up models’ skirts in the mid-1990s, joined the news conference by speakerphone. She described her experience with Trump and later became emotional talking about the leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
“This isn’t how we should teach our boys to talk... It’s horrendous,” Boyne said. “[We should] demand that Donald Trump step down like Al Franken. Because what he’s acknowledged, what he’s made appropriate culturally, is a thousand times worse than anything Al Franken has done.”
Holvey told HuffPost after the news conference that she believes Trump hasn’t been held accountable because sexual aggression has become an accepted part of his personality.
“Unfortunately, I feel like it’s part of his bravado, his brash personality, and so people are like, ‘Oh, that’s just how he is,’” Holvey said. “And that’s not acceptable... This is not even 16 individual instances ― this is a lifetime of him and how he treats women.”
She said her interaction with Trump led her to abandon her dream of becoming Miss USA.
“I didn’t want him to be my boss,” Holvey said. “I was simply a piece of meat to him.”
Leeds first spoke to The New York Times last year, alleging that Trump groped her on an airplane more than 30 years ago.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
In the same article, Crooks said Trump forcibly kissed her when they met in 2005. Holvey accused Trump of personally inspecting her and the other 2006 Miss USA candidates during a contest event that year.
“He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” she told CNN in 2016. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.”
Monday’s news conference was hosted by Brave New Films, a documentary production company that in November released a three-minute video called “16 Women and Donald Trump.” The video shares the stories of the women who have come forward with their experiences of Trump allegedly assaulting or harassing them.
The president and his administration have denied these claims repeatedly. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that women he didn’t know were making “false accusations.”
Four of Trump’s accusers issued a statement Tuesday morning following his tweet that labeled their allegations as “fake news.” The statement was made by Crooks, Boyne, Holvey and Melinda McGillivray, who alleges that Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-Lago in 2003.
“President Trump took to Twitter this morning to attack us. He dismissed the well-documented and factual claims of sexual misconduct made against him by at least 16 women, including ourselves, as ‘fake news,’” the statement reads.
“These outright ― and false ― denials from President Trump are straight out of the Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby playbook,” the statement continues. “It is exactly what we have come to expect from a man who has repeatedly demonstrated his disregard and disdain for women, and the truth.”
The four women added that the best way for Americans to know the truth would be for Congress to open an investigation into the claims.
“The post-Weinstein era of accountability, and the rise of the #MeToo movement, give us hope that our society is changing for the better,” the statement reads. “President Trump has thus far avoided accountability for his long-running sexual misconduct. That changes now.”
Trump initially acknowledged that he could be heard on the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape and characterized the comments as “locker room talk.” More recently, he has reportedly suggested that the voice on the tape isn’t his ― even though, to be clear, it is.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday that the women accusing Trump deserve to be heard.
This article has been updated with allegations from Boyne, additional comments from Leeds and Holvey, details from the news conference, and comment from Trump, as well as details from the four accusers’ statement on Tuesday.