Monica Schipper/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Three women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct or harassment in the years prior to his election are calling for Congress to investigate the allegations against him following a week in which three U.S. senators and congressional representatives stepped down over similar claims.
Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey appeared at a news conference Monday.
“I ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump’s history of sexual misconduct,” Crooks said.
Crooks alleged that Trump “has escaped his past unscathed, but over a dozen women have come forward about his sexual misconduct, and we have video proof of him promoting such behavior,” referring to the Access Hollywood video from 2005.
“In an objective setting, without question a person with this record would have entered the graveyard of political aspirations never to return. Yet, here we are with that man as president,” Crooks said.
Trump has denied allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. He apologized last year for his comments recorded on the Access Hollywood video.
Asked about the women’s claims Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders repeated the president’s denials and added that the White House felt the “allegations have been answered” through last year’s election, given that Trump was victorious even after the public was aware of the accusations.
The three women appeared earlier Monday on the NBC’s “Today” show, where host Megyn Kelly read a statement from the White House in response to the women’s allegations.
“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 statement 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.”
Crooks first made her allegations in an article in The New York Times in October 2016. She said that in 2005 when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan, she encountered Mr. Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning.
She said she knew her company did business with Trump, so she introduced herself and they shook hands. But, she told the Times, Trump would not let go and began kissing her cheeks. Then, he “kissed me directly on the mouth,” she said.
“I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” Crooks told the Times.
Crooks said at the news conference Monday, “I was shocked. Devastated. It happened so fast.”
Leeds, who also first went public in the Times article in October 2016, alleges that Trump groped her during the late 1970s while she was traveling first class on an airplane. Leeds was a traveling salesperson in her 30s at the time.
“They served a meal, and after the meal was cleared, all of a sudden, he’s all over me – kissing and groping and groping and kissing,” Leeds said on the “Today” show.
Leeds also told NBC on Monday that three years after the alleged incident on the airplane, she moved to New York City and ran into Trump while she was working at a fundraiser gala. Leeds claims Trump recognized her as the woman on the plane and, using a profanity, “called me the worst name ever.”
“It was shocking. It was like a bucket of cold water being thrown over me,” Leeds said of the alleged interaction with the president.
Leeds said in the NBC interview Monday that she chose not to tell anyone about the alleged incidents with Trump until he was running for president.
“I wanted people to know what kind of person Trump really is,” Leeds said.
Holvey, a former Miss USA pageant contestant, also went public with her allegations in October 2016 in an interview with CNN.
Holvey was the 2006 Miss North Carolina in the pageant that year, she told CNN. During an event in New York City in the month before the pageant, Trump personally inspected each of the contestants, she alleged.
“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,” Holvey told CNN. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.”
Monday on the “Today” show, Holvey said that after going public with her story it “heartbreaking” to see Trump win the election.
“We’re private citizens, and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and especially how he views women and for them to say ‘Meh, we don’t care.’ It hurt.” Holvey said.
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