Near the start of the second presidential debate, CNN anchor and debate moderator Anderson Cooper confronted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over a lewd recording that leaked on Friday.
The 2005 recording showed Trump making vulgar comments about women, including boasting about trying to sleep with a married woman and remarking that he could “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
Cooper didn’t mince words while characterising the recording.
“You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals,” Cooper said. “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
Trump was defiant.
“No, I didn’t say that at all,” Trump said. “I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker-room talk. I’m not proud of it. I’ve apologised to my family, I’ve apologised to the American people.”
He then pivoted to talking about the terrorist group ISIS.
“When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times, we haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world,” Trump said. “And they look and they see. Can you imagine the people that are, frankly, doing so well against us with ISIS? And they look at our country and they see what’s going on.”
Trump then somewhat got back on track.
“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it, I hate it, but it’s locker-room talk and it’s one of those things,” Trump said. “I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment.”
He concluded: “I will take care of ISIS and we should get onto much more important things and much bigger things.”
Cooper went back to the video.
“Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago, that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?” Cooper asked.
Trump didn’t quite answer the question.
“I have great respect for women,” Trump said. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
Cooper pressed on.
“So for the record, you’re saying you never did that?” he asked.
Trump again dodged the question.
“I said things that, frankly, you hear these things that were said, and I was embarrassed by it, but I have tremendous respect for women and women have respect for me,” he said.
Cooper cut in, asking, “Have you ever done those things?”
Trump responded, “No I have not.”
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