Florida: US First Lady Michelle Obama launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump on Thursday, describing him as a disgrace and an embarrassment to American men, as the Republican nominee denied a series of allegations of sexual assault.
Trump’s campaign was rocked on Thursday by four women, in three separate publications, coming forward on the same day to accuse him of assault. The women gave detailed, graphic accounts, backed up by people they told, of incidents of kissing and groping, ranging from 30 years ago to 2005.
Obama, whose popularity and influence far exceeds anyone else on the current political stage, used a rally for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire to denounce Trump. “In this election we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over his lifetime and throughout the course of his campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning and I simply will not repeat anything here today,” she said. “And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexual assaulting women. “And I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted. “So while I’d like nothing more than to pretend like this isn’t happening, and come out here and do my normal campaign speech, it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream.”
In the hours before Obama took to the stage, four women came forward with allegations that Trump had inappropriately touched them. Natasha Stoynoff, a former People Magazine reporter, alleged that Trump pushed her up against a wall and forcibly kissed her while she was at his Mar a Lago resort in Florida to report on his first wedding anniversary with Melania. Jessica Leeds claimed to The New York Times she was seated next to Trump on an aeroplane when he lifted the armrest and began to grope her “like an octopus”. Rachel Crooks said she introduced herself to Trump while working as a receptionist in Trump Tower, and claimed that he kissed her “directly on the mouth”.
Finally, Mindy McGillavray alleged that Trump groped her from behind following a Ray Charles concert at Mar-a-Lago. The four women’s stories come after he was recorded, in footage aired last week, boasting about sexual assault. He dismissed the conversation as “locker room banter”.
Obama disagreed. “I can tell you — the men in my life do not talk about women like this,” she said. “To dismiss this as locker room talk is an insult to men everywhere. They are sickened by this. They are decent husbands and brothers and fathers. And they are worried about the impact this is having on boys who are looking for role models as to what it is to be a man.” Trump, taking to the stage in Florida shortly afterwards, batted away the criticism — describing the reports as “painful” but dismissing them as lies. “These vicious claims about me, about inappropriate conduct with women, are totally and utterly false,” he told an adoring crowd in West Palm Beach. “They are pure fiction and outright lies. These events never, ever happened — and the people who make these claims know.” He then called on readers to look into the background of the accusers, and said he was taking legal action against The New York Times.