Donald Trump held a surprise pre-debate press conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, and one woman who was a victim in a rape case in which Hillary Clinton defended the accused.
Appearing on stage with Trump were Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathy Shelton.
It’s a hint of how nasty the second presidential debate in St Louis, Missouri, today could get, with fallout still ongoing over Trump’s lewd 2005 comments about women caught on tape.
Reporters at the conference, which was broadcast on Facebook live, asked Trump at the start of the press conference about the recording, in which Trump talked about being able to “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
“Mr. Trump does your star power allow you to touch women without (their) consent?” a reporter asked.
Trump brushed aside the question and immediately launched into a prepared statement.
“These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honour to help them,” Trump said.
Jones, Willey, and Broaddrick have all accused former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, of sexual misconduct.
All of the women expressed their support for Trump at the conference.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Broaddrick said. She said “Mr Trump may have said some bad words”, then reiterated her accusation of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Clinton and said “Hillary Clinton threatened me”.
“I don’t think there’s any comparison,” she continued.
As Trump wrapped up the conference, a reporter asked, “Why did you say you touch women without their consent, Mr Trump?”
Paula Jones replied to that: “Why don’t you ask Bill Clinton that?”
The four women will appear in the hall where today’s debate will be held.
Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, said the “stunt” was evident of Trump’s “race to the bottom”.
“Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that,” she said.
“If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”
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