If you thought tonight’s debate would be a high-minded conversation about pressing policy issues, think again. Presidential candidate Donald Trump just went live on Facebook with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct: Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones.
“Join me in St. Louis, Missouri — as I conclude my debate prep,” Trump wrote.
In other words, Trump — who congratulated himself at length after the first debate for not bringing up Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and his alleged sexual misconduct in other cases — isn’t holding back anymore. The release of a secret recording of Trump in 2005 bragging about groping and kissing women without their consent appears to have convinced him to attack Hillary Clinton for her husband’s behavior.
Broaddrick, Willey, and Jones have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct (Jones sued for sexual harassment, Willey accused him of sexual assault, and Broaddrick of rape).
The fourth woman at the press conference, Kathy Shelton, was a victim of rape when she was 12 years old. Hillary Clinton defended the man accused of her rape, who was found not guilty. (Shelton has embellished the story somewhat, claiming Clinton laughed on tape about getting the man acquitted and that she had volunteered to defend him, both of which are untrue, according to Snopes.)
The four women each spoke briefly: “At 12 years old, Hillary put me through something you should never put a 12-year-old through,” Shelton said.
“I’m Juanita Broaddrick, and I’m here to support Donald Trump. I tweeted recently, and Mr. Trump retweeted it, that actions speak louder than words,” Broaddrick said. “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.”
Neither Jones nor Willey mentioned their accusations about Clinton in short statements supporting Trump. But as reporters yelled questions at Trump about whether he had touched women without their consent, Jones yelled back: “You should ask Bill Clinton that.”
This is how Trump set the tone for his first major public appearance since the secretly recorded tape emerged. It’s hard to overstate how weird this is — and how likely it is to be an ugly, vicious night.
The Clinton campaign responded: "We're not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom. Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn't change that."