© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

2 Women Accuse Donald Trump Of Inappropriate Touching


Two videos tell a story of Donald Trump's past. In a 2005 recording, he brags of grabbing and kissing women without consent. Trump said this week he never actually did that. Now, a second video shows a woman saying Trump did do that to her. Jessica Leeds says she sat next to Trump on an airplane more than 30 years ago.


JESSICA LEEDS: It was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me. He started encroaching on my space. And I hesitate to use this expression, but I'm going to, and that is he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place.

INSKEEP: The video was taken by The New York Times, which reports the stories of two women accusing Trump. Other women have told their stories to other news organizations. Let's focus on The Times' story here. Megan Twohey is one of the reporters on that story. She's on the line.

Good morning.

MEGAN TWOHEY: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Why is Jessica Leeds coming forward now?

TWOHEY: Well, I think that the reason that Jessica and Rachel Crooks, who is the other woman featured in our story, are speaking up now is because of the video that surfaced last week in which Trump himself is recorded in his own words talking about grabbing women and kissing women without their consent.

INSKEEP: You also mentioned the presidential debate in which he was asked several times about this and finally said, no, I never did that.

TWOHEY: Right. I think that's right. And it took Anderson Cooper asking him, you know, more than once in the debate on Sunday. You've talked about doing these things. You've talked about this behavior. Did you in fact do that? Did you in fact kiss and grab women without their consent? And he flatly said, no, I did not do that. And I think for some women out there, Jessica and Rachel included - and there are now other additional voices speaking up - you know, they watched that and they said, wait a second, that doesn't square with my experience.

INSKEEP: Let me ask you about the second person, Rachel Crooks, who was working in Trump's building, said she had an encounter with him at an elevator. You go on to say that she initially contacted The Times with her story back in May. Why did The Times hold onto that story until now?

TWOHEY: Well, in May, my colleague Michael Barbaro and I did a story - a pretty extensive story looking at Trump's treatment of women in private. And there were some voices in the story that had talked about unwelcome kissing and groping allegations. And so Rachel was among the women who reached out to us at that time and said, I read the story. I can tell you that I relate to some of the voices of the women in your story. And I just wanted to let you know that it happened to me, that it's happened to other people. And so at the time, you know, there were many other stories going on. We had just done a comprehensive story on his treatment of women.

But when the, you know, when the recording surfaced last Friday, when the debate took place on Sunday and he was asked about this, you know, we went back to some of the people who had contacted us in the spring, including Rachel. And while she may have been reluctant to sort of go on the record before and just kind of wanted to share her story with a reporter, you know, off the record at that time, she was now like, I think I'm ready to go on the record with this.

INSKEEP: Oh, so the delay here was actually on the part of the woman who said she was a victim? She wasn't ready to talk until now?

TWOHEY: Right. So she wasn't - we didn't have extensive conversations until now after the debate with Rachel.


TWOHEY: So she had - you know, she had just shared her story in an email with us.

INSKEEP: So what did Donald Trump say when you called him and told him this?

TWOHEY: Right. So I spoke to Donald Trump on the phone - excuse me, Tuesday night. And he was pretty agitated at the questions, at these new allegations. And he basically said that, you know, The New York Times was making this up to make him look bad. You know, he threatened to sue us. He called me a disgusting human being as I continued to press forward with these questions.

INSKEEP: Did he remember either woman?

TWOHEY: He claimed to not remember these women, no.

INSKEEP: Did he say anything specific or just broadly deny the whole thing?

TWOHEY: I mean, he denied these allegations. He denied previous allegations that have been made against him about unwanted kissing and groping. He categorically says that everybody, you know, everybody who makes these claims is lying.

INSKEEP: You said he's agitated and the article says highly agitated. What exactly was he doing that made him seem agitated?

TWOHEY: I would say that, you know, his voice, you know, he continued to raise his voice and start, you know, he was shouting at me. You know, these were very straightforward questions that obviously as a reporter when you're doing due diligence, when you're preparing to report, you know, allegations that are made against somebody, you absolutely give them a call and say I'd like to walk through these with you. Can you, you know, please talk to me about these in detail? And he was, you know, just the idea that he'd have to answer these questions, that somebody was, you know, that people were making these claims just had clearly made him extremely mad.

INSKEEP: He threatened a lawsuit. And I think I've now seen a letter from a law firm representing him demanding a retraction and an apology or there'll be some kind of action. I gather that your bosses are not retracting or apologizing?

TWOHEY: We are not.

INSKEEP: You're sticking with this story?

TWOHEY: We are.

INSKEEP: OK. Megan Twohey, thanks very much, really appreciate it.

TWOHEY: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: Other women are accusing Donald Trump of similar behavior. They include a People magazine reporter and a woman who talked with the Palm Beach Post and then there's the former Miss Utah Temple Taggart McDowell, who said that Trump inappropriately kissed her.


TEMPLE TAGGART MCDOWELL: And I remember, I mean, I was very young and I remember feeling kind of embarrassed, like, wanting to turn and almost wipe my mouth, like, what just happened?

INSKEEP: She spoke with NBC's "Today" show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.