On Monday, NBC Today host Megyn Kelly invited three women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment on her show to talk about their allegations.
The White House denied the accusations, questioning the “timing” of the claims and saying they were politically motivated to take down Trump.
Kelly invites Trump accusers on show
Kelly set the tone for the interview like this:
America, as you know by this point is having it’s own ‘Me Too’ moment, as men from the very public worlds of journalism, entertainment and now government are being outed and often punished for sometimes decades of sexual misconduct. But does that accountability extend to the Oval Office?
Kelly went on to interview three women who have accused president Trump of sexual harassment. Samantha Holvey, the former Miss North Carolina and a contestant in the 2006 Miss USA contest, accused Trump of “personally inspecting” contestants before the pageant; Jessica Leeds, a New York woman, said Trump groped her on a plane over thirty years ago; and Rachel Crooks said he forcibly kissed her at Trump Tower in 2005.
Holvey said she felt “like a piece of meat” because of Trump’s alleged misbehavior. Crooks said that she was afraid to speak up at the time because her boss and Trump were business partners. Leeds gave a graphic depiction of the alleged encounter with Trump, who sat next to her on a plane in the late 1970s.
“All of a sudden he was all over me kissing and groping,” Leeds said. “Nothing was said. It was just this silent groping going on. When his hands started going up my skirt, I managed to wiggle out, stand up and go to the back of the airplane.”
The three originally came forward with their accusations during the last months of the presidential campaign last fall. Holvey said she felt empowered to renew her accusations against Trump because of the renewed attention given to the issue of sexual harassment by #MeToo.
“Let’s try round two,” she said.
The three women appeared at a news conference after the interview where they called for a congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged harassment. The conference was organized by Brave New Films, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote progressive ideas such as gun control through short and cheap documentaries.
Brave New Films released a video on YouTube in November about Trump’s accusers and their allegations. Leeds said at the conference that none of the accusers were looking for fame.
“None of us want this attention,” Leeds said at the news conference. “None of us are comfortable with it. … But this is important, so when asked, we speak out.”
White House denies accusations
The White House denied the accusations in a response to the interview on Monday, saying the claims were false and politically motivated, questioning the “timing” of the claims and the “publicity tour” they have generated.
“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 judgment by delivering a decisive victory,” the White House said. “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.”
Sarah Sanders re-iterated the denial on Monday afternoon while speaking to reporters:
The American people knew this and voted for the president and we feel like we’re ready to move forward. The president has firsthand knowledge on what he did and didn’t do.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley contradicted the White House’s position, saying that the women who have accused Trump of misconduct have a right to be heard.