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Trump’s leaked comments aren’t just “lewd.” They describe sexual assault.

Which Trump has been formally accused of before.

Donald Trump was caught on tape in 2005 saying — if you can believe it — the most graphic things about women we’ve heard from him yet.

The clip features audio of Trump with Access Hollywood correspondent Billy Bush, as they ride a bus through a studio backlot for a segment of the entertainment news show. Their microphones were live as they approached the Days of Our Lives studio, where Trump was to film a cameo.

During the worst part of the tape, published by the Washington Post Friday, Trump brags about what his star power lets him do with women.

After Trump and Bush start gawking at Days of Our Lives actress Arianne Zucker, this happens:

“I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Trump responded with a prepared statement: “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. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

The Washington Post’s headline describes Trump’s comments as “extremely lewd.” But they’re a lot worse than that.

This may or may not actually be typical “locker room banter” for some men. But one thing is clear: It’s an explicit description of sexual assault.

Whether or not Trump is bragging for effect or machismo, he is saying that he thinks it’s no big deal to grab or kiss a woman in a sexual manner — either by moving too fast for her to consent or resist or by exploiting his power until “they let you do it.”

It is sexual assault to “just start kissing” a woman, much less “grab” her “pussy,” and not “even wait” — in other words, to act without warning or consent.

It is sexual assault to exploit your power over a woman for the purpose of sexual favors.

This isn’t a joke. This isn’t even just a much worse version of the usual sleaze or insults that we’re used to on Trump and women. This is serious.

It’s serious because this kind of cavalier treatment of sexual assault is the definition of rape culture. When men see sexual assault as a punchline, or even something to brag about, they take it less seriously when they see or hear about it happening, and they take women less seriously who talk about it.

But it’s even more serious because it’s Trump saying it. For Trump, there is good reason to believe that these attitudes aren’t just theoretical bragging. They represent real behaviors that more than one real woman has alleged.

Trump has been credibly accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape

Trump’s comments are an unsettling reminder of a story that former Miss Utah Temple Taggart told the New York Times. She said Trump kissed her on the lips at the Miss USA pageant, twice, against her will.

We cannot ignore that Trump hasn't just said countless boorish things about women in public. He has also been accused of sexually aggressive and creepy behavior in private, as interviews with dozens of women who worked with or for him have revealed.

Some of those encounters were the textbook definition of a hostile work environment created by sexual harassment and objectifying behavior. Others, like Taggart’s story, could constitute sexual assault.

And Trump has also been accused, in sworn statements, of a brutal 1989 rape by his ex-wife Ivana, and of sexual assault by another woman, Jill Harth.

Neither of the women like talking about the incidents publicly, and Ivana explicitly denounced a recent news story about it. But despite backpedaling on various aspects, neither woman has actually recanted the details of her original testimony.

Harth has said outright that although she dropped her 1997 sexual assault lawsuit, she stands by her allegations — that Trump groped her under the table one night at dinner, and that he later tried to rape her in his daughter Ivanka’s bedroom.

Ivana Trump’s story, as described in a deposition during their divorce, is absolutely horrifying.

She described Donald, raging and in pain after scalp reduction surgery, bending Ivana over the bed and forcing himself inside her for the first time in 16 months, ripping out chunks of her hair to make her feel the same pain he felt. The story continues the next morning, when she dared to come back into the bedroom and Donald asked her coldly: "Did it hurt?"

Ivana called it "rape" during their divorce. Later, she said she had merely "felt violated" when a book featuring her testimony came out in 1993. And when reporter Tim Mak revisited the story in a 2015 Daily Beast article, she called the story "totally without merit.” Nonetheless, she didn't specifically dispute any particular aspect of it.

We know Trump is lewd and boorish. We know he is openly sexist.

And we also know he has been accused of rape. And now we have him on tape “joking” about precisely the same behavior.


Watch: This election is about normal vs. abnormal

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