Monday 21 October 2019

Trump's campaign hit by lewd remarks about women in leaked footage

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: AP

Emily Stephenson

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday grappled with a new bombshell after The Washington Post published a 2005 conversation in which Trump recounted in vulgar terms how he tried to have sex with an unnamed married woman.

Trump has previously come under fire for sexist and demeaning language he has used to describe women, including from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The new audio provides Clinton with powerful ammunition just ahead of the second presidential debate, on Sunday night.

In the recorded conversation in 2005, Trump was wearing a microphone and chatting with Billy Bush, the host of NBC's "Access Hollywood," ahead of a segment they were about to tape.

"I did try and f--- her. She was married," Trump said. "I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there."

Trump talked about his attraction to beautiful women. "I just start kissing them," he said.

"And when you're a star they let you do it," he said.

"Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything."

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Trump, who has brought up former President Bill Clinton's infidelities as a criticism of Hillary Clinton, calling her a "total enabler," shrugged off the audio.

"This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago," Trump said in a statement.

"Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended," Trump said.

A spokeswoman for "Access Hollywood" declined immediate comment.

Hillary Clinton called the tape "horrific" on Twitter and said: "We cannot allow this man to become president."

In the first presidential debate, on September 26, Clinton took aim at Trump for what she said was sexist behavior, highlighting his criticism of Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe who he said gained too much weight, saying he called her "Miss Piggy." Trump, who had owned the Miss Universe pageants, refused to back down from his comments about Machado, unleashing a predawn Twitter tirade about her.

Debate looms

Sunday's presidential debate, a town hall-style event, is seen as critical to Trump as he tries to rebound from a slump in some opinion polls after a rocky performance in the first debate.

On Friday, he met with national security advisers, as well as a labor union that represents border patrol agents, to discuss immigration, which has been a signature issue of his campaign.

Trump accused federal officials of speeding citizenship proceedings for some illegal immigrants so they can vote in November, a charge the US Department of Homeland Security said does not stand up to scrutiny.

"They're letting people pour into the country so they can go and vote," Trump said during a meeting with representatives of the National Border Patrol Council, providing no specifics on his accusation.

There is a lengthy process for immigrants to become naturalized to vote in federal elections, including living in the country for at least five years, said Marsha Catron, a spokeswoman at the Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic President Barack Obama has struggled with controlling the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border, but there has been no evidence US officials are purposely allowing them to cast ballots in American elections.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz, asked on Air Force One about Trump's charge, replied: "I haven't seen those comments and I have no idea what he would use to back those up."

A Clinton campaign spokeswoman said Trump's accusation was "a blatant lie" and said he was "demonising immigrants in an attempt to divide Americans."

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