clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

"Grab ’em by the pussy”: how Trump talked about women in private is horrifying

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The way Donald Trump talks about women when everyone can hear — or read on Twitter — is pretty offensive. Imagine what he’s like in private.

A newly released secret video from 2005 captures it. Here’s what Trump says about the norms of being a famous man: “They let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.”

The recording, obtained and published by the Washington Post, is from a day when Trump made an appearance on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Trump is talking to Billy Bush of Access Hollywood, and the audio is caught on a hot mic.

The recording starts partway through Trump telling a story about hitting on an unidentified woman — unsuccessfully. “I did try and fuck her,” Trump said. “She was married. I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. … I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there and she was married.”

Then, Trump said, he saw her again: “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.”

Moments later, Trump notices Arianne Zucker, the soap opera actress who would later escort him and Bush to the set. Bush calls her “hot as shit.” Trump jokes that he should “use some Tic Tacs” in case he starts kissing her.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump said. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

This isn’t necessarily new territory for Trump. An affair while he was married broke up his first marriage. In appearances on The Howard Stern Show, he frequently rated women based on their looks and desirability. In the office, according to the New York Times, his employees were subjected to “endless commentary on the female form.”

Trump might consider the most embarrassing part to be that his pursuit of a married woman was unsuccessful. In his books, he frequently depicted himself as sexually irresistible, claiming that all of the women on The Apprentice flirted with him and saying that married women had thrown themselves at him.

But the secretly recorded remarks aren’t just significantly more vulgar than his radio appearances — they demonstrate that, at the very least, Trump was willing to leverage his power to get sex.

Even more unusually, though, the video prompted a rare apology from Trump. “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” he said in a statement to the Washington Post. “I apologize if anyone was offended.”

Trump is clearly eager to discuss Clinton’s extramarital affairs. But this could be the first time during the campaign that he has apologized for anything at all.

Watch: This election is about normal vs. abnormal

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.