The “Weinstein effect” continues to roil the nation’s power centers. But the allegations against the president have largely stayed in the background.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, leaves court after a hearing in her defamation case against President Trump on December 5.
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
DEC 7, 2017 |
It’s been two months since the reckoning began. In early October, The New York Times and The New Yorker first published the alarming accounts of women who said they’d been assaulted by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Rare is the day since then that women, and some men, haven’t come forward with accounts of sexual misconduct from famous and not-so-famous men alike.
Lurking in the background of the roiling debate about harassment and assault in American society are the allegations made against President Trump by at least 19 women, many of whom came forward after the release of the Access Hollywood tape
in October 2016. Trump vociferously denies any wrongdoing. “Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?” a reporter asked
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, in late October. “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” Sanders replied.
Some of the women’s stories date back to the 1980s when Trump’s personal relationships were fixtures of the New York City tabloids; others begin after he returned to the public eye with his NBC series The Apprentice. Their accounts describe a wide range of alleged behavior, including lewd remarks, overt harassment, groping, and sexual assault. One woman, Summer Zervos, is currently suing the president for defamation after he repeatedly called her and the others liars. What follows are details from each accuser—listed alphabetically—and the president’s corresponding defense.
Year: Early 1990s
Allegation: Anderson told TheWashington Post
in October 2016 that she encountered Trump at an unnamed Manhattan nightspot when he was seated next to her on a red velvet couch. She said that Trump slid his fingers up her skirt and touched her through her underwear. The newspaper quoted friends of Anderson who said she gave them the same account shortly thereafter and in the years that followed.
Response: “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity,” Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman and the current White House communications director, told the Post. “It is totally ridiculous.”
Status: Anderson has not spoken to news outlets since the election.
Allegation: Boyne told HuffPost
in October 2016 that she met Trump and modeling agent John Casablancas at a restaurant in Lower Manhattan in 1996 while she worked at a think tank in the city. She described a dinner in which the women sitting in a circular booth could only leave if they walked across the table. According to Boyne, Trump used the opportunity to look up their skirts and comment on their underwear and genitals. She told the news outlet that Trump did not make any advances toward her, but asked for her input on which of the other women he should sleep with.
Response: “Mr. Trump never heard of this woman and would never do that,” Hicks told HuffPost in a statement.
Status: Boyne has not spoken to news outlets since the election.
Allegation: Crooks told The New York Times
in October 2016 that she encountered Trump outside the elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she worked for a real-estate-investment company. She said Trump shook her hand, wouldn’t let go, and then pulled her in for a kiss on the cheeks and the mouth. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” she said.
Response: “None of this ever took place,” Trump told the Times in a phone interview for the article, which also included a separate account by a woman named Jessica Leeds. The newspaper characterized his response as “highly agitated” and noted that he called one of the reporters asking him questions “a disgusting human being.”
Status: Crooks told the Times
in November that she wondered how the country could forget about the women who accused Trump of misconduct. In a CNN interview
in early December, Crooks also said she wasn’t surprised Trump had reportedly begun describing the 2005 Access Hollywood tape as fake because she considered the president a “pathological liar.”
Allegation: During a press conference
with lawyer Gloria Allred in October 2016, Drake, a former adult-film actress and director, described meeting Trump during a 2006 golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She said two women were with her, and that Trump “grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission.” Drake told reporters that Trump later called her and asked her to accompany him to dinner and a party. When she declined, she said Trump offered her $10,000 if she agreed to his offer. Allred showed reporters at the press conference a photograph of Trump and Drake together.
Response: The Trump campaign denied Drake’s account and accused Hillary Clinton of orchestrating the allegation. “This story is totally false and ridiculous. The picture is one of thousands taken out of respect for people asking to have their picture taken with Mr. Trump,” the campaign said in a statement. “Mr. Trump does not know this person, does not remember this person, and would have no interest in ever knowing her.”
Status: Drake spoke at a press conference
during the Women’s March on Washington in January alongside three other women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct. “Like many, I am horrified by the potential upcoming administration and fear the consequences it will have,” she told reporters.
Allegation: Harth and George Houraney, her romantic and business partner at the time, first met Trump in 1992 regarding a business proposal. She told The Guardian
in July 2016 that Trump’s unwanted advances began at dinner that night when he tried to grope her under the table. According to Harth, those advances continued at a January 1993 business meeting at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s estate in Florida. She said Trump cornered her in his daughter’s bedroom during a tour of the property. “He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again,” Harth told the newspaper. Houraney said he did not witness the two incidents but believes Harth’s account of them. She shared her account
during a deposition in 1996 as part of a lawsuit against Trump claiming that he failed to hold up his end of a business deal. (Trump settled out of court for an unknown sum.)
Response: Michael Cohen, the Trump Organization lawyer, denied Harth’s allegations in a statement to TheGuardian. “It is disheartening that one has to dignify a response to the below absurd query,” he said via email. “Mr. Trump denies each and every statement made by Ms. Harth as these 24-year-old allegations lack any merit or veracity.”
Status: Harth continued to speak out against the president after the election. In October, she tweeted
, “My pain is everyday with bastard Trump as President. No one gets it unless it happens to them. NO one!”
Allegation: Heller told The Guardian
in October 2016 that she met Trump during a Mother’s Day brunch held at Mar-a-Lago, where she was dining with her husband, her children, and her in-laws. According to her, Trump was greeting attendees table by table. When he was introduced to her, Heller said Trump forcibly kissed her. “He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she told the newspaper, adding that she felt “angry and shaken.” The Guardian interviewed an unidentified relative who witnessed most of the encounter, as well as friends who said she told them about it in the years afterward.
Response: “There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort,” Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, told The Guardian. “It would have been the talk of Palm Beach for the past two decades.”
Status: Heller told The Guardian
in October that sharing her story the previous year had been difficult, but that she received “tremendous support” from friends and family. She added that she was glad so many women had stepped forward after the Weinstein allegations were made public. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s men in power,” Heller told the newspaper.
Allegation: Holvey, who represented North Carolina at the 2006 Miss USA pageant, told CNN
in October 2016 that Trump personally inspected her and the other contestants before the competition. “He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” she said in the interview. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.” Holvey said that she was “disgusted” by his behavior and “had no desire to win when I understood what it was really all about.”
Response: CNN said that messages left with the Trump campaign about Holvey’s account “were not returned.” Trump broadly denied the wave of sexual-misconduct allegations in October 2016 and accused the women who made them of lying.
Status: Holvey has not spoken to media outlets about her account since the election.
Allegation: Laaksonen, a model and former Miss Finland, told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat in October 2016 that Trump groped her backstage at theLate Show with David Letterman in 2006. “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt,” she told the newspaper, according to a translation by The Telegraph
. “He really grabbed my butt. I don’t think anybody saw it, but I flinched and thought, ‘What is happening?’”
Response: Neither Ilta-Sanomat nor The Telegraph quoted a specific response from Trump or his campaign, but Trump broadly denied the wave of sexual-misconduct allegations in October 2016 and accused the women who made them of lying.
Status: Laaksonen does not appear to have spoken to media outlets about her account since the election.
Allegation: Leeds told The New York Times
in October 2016 that she sat next to Trump in a first-class cabin on a flight in the 1980s. Almost an hour into the flight, he lifted the armrest and “grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt,” she told the newspaper. “He was an octopus,” she added. “His hands were everywhere.”
Response: “None of this ever took place,” Trump told the Times in a phone interview for the article, which also included a separate account by Rachel Crooks. The newspaper characterized his response as “highly agitated” and noted that he called one of the reporters “a disgusting human being.”
Status: As the “Weinstein effect”
gained momentum this fall, Leeds spoke to The Washington Post in October about her experiences since the election. “It is hard to reconcile that Harvey Weinstein could be brought down with this, and [President] Trump just continues to be the Teflon Don,” she told the newspaper
Allegation: Searles met Trump when she represented the state of Washington during the 2013 Miss USA pageant. In a Facebook post written in June 2016
, Searles said “this one guy treated us like cattle” during the stage introductions and “proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property.” She didn’t name Trump specifically, but she included a photo of him in the post and noted
the “guy” was running for president. “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room,” Searles added in a comment on the post.
Response: Trump did not specifically respond to Searles’ account when it received widespread media attention in October 2016. He broadly denied the wave of sexual-misconduct allegations that month and accused the women who made them of lying.
Status: Searles has not spoken to media outlets about her account since the election.
Allegation: Stoynoff, a journalist at People magazine, wrote in October 2016
about her 2005 encounter with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. She met with Trump and his wife Melania for a story about their one-year wedding anniversary. While giving her a tour of the mansion, Trump cornered her in a room and began forcibly kissing her, Stoynoff said. “I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” she wrote. According to her, Trump did not relent until a butler arrived and informed him that Melania was on her way for their interview. Stoynoff said Trump resumed his advances after the interview, telling her that they would have an affair and mentioning an infamous tabloid cover about his purported sexual prowess. In a separate article, People cited six people who corroborated Stoynoff’s account
Response: Trump denied the allegations
in a message on Twitter. “Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story. Because it did not happen!” he wrote. Anthony Senecal, Trump’s longtime butler at Mar-a-Lago, also denied the encounter
had taken place.
Status: Stoynoff revisited the incident in an October 2017 op-ed
in USA Today about sexual misconduct. In the piece, she said an “Oscar-nominated actor” had assaulted her when she tried to interview him for her college newspaper. Stoynoff declined to name the actor, saying “this particular creep isn’t running for president and no longer has power in Hollywood.” But she said that episode shaped why she didn’t immediately go public with her allegations about Trump. “Like many women, my life has been riddled with experiences of sexual misconduct by teachers, doctors, bosses, and more,” she wrote. “Sadly, many women begin to feel this behavior from men is a given, and so we go on, dying a little inside each time it happens.”
Allegation: Taggart told The New York Times
in May 2016 about two separate encounters. She first met the president in 1997 while representing Utah in that year’s Miss USA pageant. When she was introduced to him, Taggart said, Trump “kissed me directly on the lips.” She told the newspaper that Trump repeated his actions during a subsequent meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, which she attended because of his offers to help her obtain modeling contracts.
Response: Trump told the Times in an interview that he “would never do that.” When NBC News revisited Taggart’s story
after the Access Hollywood tape became public in October 2016, he issued a more forceful denial. “I don’t even know who she is,” Trump told the network. “She claims this took place in a public area. I never kissed her. I emphatically deny this ridiculous claim.”
Status: Taggart told the Times
in November 2017 that she and other women who accused Trump of misconduct had spent the year since his election angry about what happened and fearful of potential retaliation by the president.
Allegation: The president’s first wife described
a 1989 sexual encounter she had with him as “rape” in a deposition during their divorce proceedings in 1990. Her account did not become public until 1993, when it was recounted in a book about the Trumps by author Harry Hart III. Just before the book was published, Ivana said in a statement
that her use of the word “rape” should not be “interpreted in a literal or criminal sense” by readers. “On one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage,” Ivana said in the statement, which, according to
The Daily Beast, was released by her ex-husband and his legal team. “As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent.”
Response: Michael Cohen, the Trump Organization’s legal counsel, downplayed the incident
in a 2015 interview with The Daily Beast. “You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody,” he told the outlet. (Cohen received widespread criticism
for falsely stating during the same interview that a spouse cannot be raped, for which he later apologized.)
Status: After the incident resurfaced in 2015 during Trump’s presidential run, Ivana described her claim
from the deposition as “totally without merit” in a statement. “I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign,” she added. “Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president.”
Allegation: Virginia told TheWashington Post
in October 2016 that Trump put his arm around her and touched her breast at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1998. She said she encountered Trump while waiting alone for a car outside the tournament building. According to her, Trump also made comments about her body to a group of nearby men before getting in a car and leaving.
Response: The Trump campaign denied Virginia’s account of events. “Voters are tired of these circuslike antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton,” Jessica Ditto, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, told the Post.
Status: Virginia has not spoken to news outlets since the election.
Allegation: Zervos first met Trump in 2005 when she was a contestant on the fifth season of NBC’s The Apprentice. In an October 2016 press conference, Zervos told reporters
that she met Trump for dinner in 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss job opportunities. She said Trump greeted her with an open-mouth kiss when she arrived at his room. “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast,” she told reporters. “I pulled back and walked to another part of the room. He then walked up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me into the bedroom. I walked out.” Zervos said Trump then embraced her, urged her to join him on the bed to watch television, and thrust himself upon her before she left.
Response: Trump denied Zervos’s account. “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years,” he said in a statement. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14 of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.” At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania a few weeks later, Trump emphatically denied
any wrongdoing and repeatedly accused Zervos and the other women of lying about their alleged encounters with him.
Status: Zervos filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York in January, accusing him of using his immense public platform “to make false factual statements to denigrate and verbally attack Ms. Zervos and the other women” who came forward. A New York judge is currently weighing arguments
from both parties on whether the case should proceed to trial. If Zervos prevails, Trump could be compelled to testify about the allegations before a jury.