Shackles are now off, says a defiant Trump
Donald Trump broke away from "disloyal" Republican party leaders yesterday, pledging to campaign as he saw fit now that "the shackles have been taken off".
The Republican nominee aimed much of his vitriol at Paul Ryan, the party's highest-ranking official.
Mr Ryan, the speaker of the House, has long been viewed as a moderating influence on Mr Trump, but said he could no longer defend him in light of the leaked video in which the presidential hopeful discusses groping women.
The White House has also joined in the condemnation of the behaviour.
Mr Trump called Mr Ryan "weak and ineffective" during a stream of furious tweets, and blamed fellow Republicans for Hillary Clinton's lead in the polls, writing: "It's hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!"
The businessman's comments suggested he had cut ties entirely with the party establishment, after months of often fraught co-operation.
"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to," he said.
At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday night, he repeated threats to imprison Mrs Clinton over her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State, and accused her of putting women "in harm's way" due to her husband's "predatory behaviour".
The civil war extended beyond Mr Trump and Mr Ryan, with the nominee's allies also abandoning their own leaders.
Mike Huckabee, the former primary election candidate, accused top Republicans of "bedwetting" and "hand-wringing" over the leaked tape.
Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump's campaign manager, said she knew of some Republicans who were "on their high horse", but had themselves made unwanted sexual advances in the past.
John McCain, the senator and party elder statesman, defended his decision to defect from Mr Trump, saying women "cannot be degraded and demeaned" by a presidential candidate.
Mr Trump responded by calling the senator "very foul-mouthed" and claiming he had "begged" for Mr Trump's support during the primaries.
The White House said President Barack Obama found Mr Trump's lewd comments "repugnant". His spokesman, Josh Earnest, said: "The president found the tape as repugnant as most Americans did. There has been a pretty clear statement by people, all along the ideological spectrum, that those statements constituted sexual assault."
Several people who worked on 'The Apprentice', Mr Trump's reality TV show, have claimed there are more damaging tapes yet to be released. Mark Burnett, its British producer, has said he is not legally able to release the tapes, but former crew members have speculated as to what might be on them.
One anonymous source told the Hollywood Reporter that Mr Trump referred to female contestants only by their physical attributes, "like the girl with the really big chest" and treated women "like children".
Meanwhile, the founder of the Trumpettes, an organisation of women who support Donald Trump, has come out in defence of the Republican nominee's boasting about sexual assault, saying that "boys will be boys".
Toni Holt Kramer, a Hollywood journalist turned wealthy socialite, who moves between mansions in Florida and California, compared the 1995 audio recording of a "locker room conversation", with Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was president.
"I would say a comment like that, when people really think about it, is not nearly as bad as receiving [a sexual favour] in the White House," she said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)