ABC News(NEW YORK) — Two women have alleged that Donald Trump once groped them, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday.
The Times spoke with Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, both of whom claim that years ago they were touched by the Republican presidential candidate without their consent. Both women — who approached the Times after Sunday’s presidential debate — said they have never told their respective stories publicly prior to the Times report.
In a statement released Wednesday night following the report’s publication, Trump campaign senior communication advisor Jason Miller, said, “This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous. To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.”
Miller also says, “Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack. This is a sad day for the Times.”
The Times does acknowledge that Leeds and Crooks both say they support Trump’s rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Crooks also has contributed less than $200 to Clinton and President Obama, according to the Times.
Leeds, now 74 and living in Manhattan, says she was travelling in the first-class cabin of a New York-bound aircraft more than 30 years ago, seated next to Trump. She says the pair never had met before.
Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch Leeds, she claims in the Times report. Trump then grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt, Leeds alleges.
“He was like an octopus,” Leeds said. “His hands were everywhere … It was an assault.”
According to the Times, she did not complain to the airline at the time. Leeds did tell the story years later to at least four confidants, who also spoke to the newspaper for the article.
Crooks, meanwhile, tells the Times that she encountered Trump in 2005 outside an elevator at Trump Tower, where the then-22-year-old Crooks was working as a receptionist at investment and development company Bayrock Group.
Crooks — whose company did business with Trump — introduced herself and shook his hand, she says.
But Trump wouldn’t let go, she claims.
He proceeded to kiss her on her cheeks, she claims, adding he then “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
She told the Times, “It was so inappropriate. I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Crooks told the Times she then called her sister, Brianne Webb, in Ohio that day to relay what had happened.
Webb told ABC News Wednesday that she spoke with her sister that same day, following the alleged incident. ABC News could not immediately reach Crooks or Leeds for comment.
Webb said her sister was very upset about her encounter with Trump, particularly being allegedly kissed on the mouth by the real estate developer.
Webb also said her sister never reported the incident to authorities.
The Trump campaign’s Miller also said in his statement, “It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.”
And during a phone interview Tuesday night — during which the Times describes Trump’s demeanor as “highly agitated” — he said, “None of this ever took place.”
The Times says Trump told its reporter that the aforementioned allegations were made up to hurt him.
Trump also threatened to sue the Times if they published the claims made by Leeds and Crooks.
Three senior-level sources confirm to ABC News that Trump is drafting a lawsuit against the Times for defamation. One senior level source says “this is war.”
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