Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Donald J. Trump was emphatic in the second presidential debate: Yes, he had boasted about kissing women without permission and grabbing their genitals. But he had never actually done those things, he said. "No," he declared under questioning on Sunday evening, "I have not." At that moment, sitting at home in Manhattan, Jessica Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. "I wanted to punch the screen," she said in an interview in her apartment. More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Leeds said, she sat beside Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before. About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her. According to Leeds, Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. "He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."
In a phone interview on Tuesday night, a highly agitated Trump denied every one of the women's claims. "None of this ever took place," said Trump, who began shouting at the Times reporter who was questioning him. He said that the Times was making up the allegations to hurt him and that he would sue the news organization if it reported them. "You are a disgusting human being," he told the reporter as she questioned him about the women's claims. Asked whether he had ever done any of the kissing or groping that he had described on the recording, Trump was once again insistent: "I don't do it. I don't do it. It was locker room talk." But for the women who shared their stories with the Times, the recording was more than that: As upsetting as it was, it offered them a kind of affirmation, they said.
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