The White House later attempted to clarify that Trump had only claimed that he never met women whose photos did not emerge.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump called the allegations against him fabricated stories and said, “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!” But later on in the day, actual footage of the president surfaced, which directly contradicted his claim.
Shared by separate sources, photos showed different accusers who had accused the president of inappropriate sexual conduct in the past. One of the photos pictured Natasha Stoynoff with Trump and was shared by People magazine on Tuesday afternoon.
Stoynoff, a former writer for People, accused the president of sexually inappropriate behavior in a column published in 2016. The incident dated back to 2005 in which Stoynoff accused Trump of pushing her against a wall and forcibly kissing her. The former People correspondent said that she was on an assignment to interview Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
People magazine directly tweeted the photo on Tuesday afternoon and tagged the president while saying, “[Trump] claims he ‘never met’ accusers like People’s Natasha Stoynoff, but we have the photo.” In the photo, Stoynoff can be seen standing right next to Trump in a group, including First Lady Melania Trump. The president has not responded to People’s tweet so far.
It wasn’t just Stoynoff’s photo that directly contradicted Trump’s claim that he did not know or had “never met” his accusers. In a separate instance, CNN political analyst and D.C. bureau chief for the Boston Globe, Matt Viser, shared a picture of another accuser, Jill Harth, standing right next to Trump in another group photo. Viser tweeted, “President Trump says his accusers are “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Here is a photo of him with Jill Harth. And he never denied knowing her, in court depositions or an interview with me.”
In the past, Harth had conducted business with Trump and later on dated him. In 2016, a New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof titled Donald Trump, Groper in Chief, mentioned Harth’s accusation against Trump. While calling him “relentless,” Harth said that Trump allegedly groped her and tried to force a kiss on her in 1992. Later on, in 1997, Harth filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump but ultimately withdrew it.
President Trump says his accusers are “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Here is a photo of him with Jill Harth. And he never denied knowing her, in court depositions or an interview with me. pic.twitter.com/JCn6xHgnBK
— Matt Viser (@mviser) December 12, 2017
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to clarify Trump’s Tuesday tweet in a press conference and said that he was apparently referring to three different women. According to Sanders, Trump was referring to former Miss North Carolina Samantha Holvey, Rachel Crooks who previously worked for the investment company known as Bayrock Group, and Jessica Leeds. The three women held a press conference on Monday to detail their accusations against the president. Crooks accused Trump of forcing a kiss on her in 2005, Leeds accused the president of forcibly grabbing her in the 1970s while Holvey accused Trump of ogling at her while she and other contestants were in their private dressing area.
Although Trump denies allegations of sexual harassment across the board, most of the accusations against him mirror his very own words in the 2005 Access Hollywood tape recording. In 2016, The Washington Post published the report in which then-presidential nominee Trump could be heard proudly bragging about assaulting women by forcibly grabbing their genitalia. In one part of the recording, Trump can be heard saying, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” After the recording became public, Trump issued a defiant apology which ended on a note of him criticizing his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
So far, 19 women have accused the president of sexually inappropriate conduct. And although Trump denies all accusations of improper behavior, his credibility may take a hit with Tuesday’s photos out in the open for everyone to see.