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This Trump accuser’s story is well-supported and convincing. His response is not.

Trump’s latest statement on sexual misconduct allegations: call it the security camera defense.

Rachel Crooks speaks during a December 2017 press conference held by women accusing President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct
Rachel Crooks speaks during a December 2017 press conference held by women accusing President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.
Monica Schipper/Getty Images
Anna North is a senior correspondent for Vox, where she covers American family life, work, and education. Previously, she was an editor and writer at the New York Times. She is also the author of three novels, including the New York Times bestseller Outlawed.

The president of the United States offered his latest response on Tuesday to one of the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Rachel Crooks told the Washington Post on Monday that Trump had kissed her without her consent in Trump Tower in 2006, an experience she has reported multiple times before. Trump’s reply: He wouldn’t have done that, because security cameras could have caught him.

Crooks’s account of the incident, as reported in the Post, is well-supported and convincing. Trump’s rejoinder, meanwhile, is less so.

“He went right in and started kissing me on the lips”

Crooks moved to New York City from Ohio in 2005, chasing dreams of working in fashion and living in a skyscraper, and took a job working for Bayrock, an investment firm in Trump Tower, Eli Saslow reports for the Post. Trump sometimes did business with Bayrock, and Crooks decided to introduce herself to him, “not as a fan or as a secretary but as a business partner,” Saslow writes.

But when they met, Crooks told the Post, “He started kissing me on one cheek, then the other cheek. He was talking to me in between kisses, asking where I was from, or if I wanted to be a model. He wouldn’t let go of my hand, and then he went right in and started kissing me on the lips.” Crooks was 22; Trump was 59.

Saslow’s story includes excerpts from emails Crooks sent at the time describing the incident to family members. “I must just appear to be some dumb girl that he can take advantage of,” one says.

Crooks also told her then-boyfriend, Clint Hackenburg, about the experience, Saslow reports. “Her self-confidence was absolutely rocked,” Hackenburg says.

Crooks is one of 19 women to report sexual misconduct by Trump, according to the Post. As Saslow notes, Crooks’s description also fits with Trump’s own words, as recorded on the Access Hollywood tape released in October 2016: “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women. 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. You can do anything.”

Those words were recorded in 2005, not long before Crooks says Trump kissed her.

Trump’s security camera defense is new and, given the fact that he’s been caught on tape in the past, not particularly convincing. It’s also a bit odd that the president emphasizes not the fact that sexual assault is wrong, but the fact that a smart perpetrator might try to hide it. As at least one critic on Twitter has already pointed out, some people might choose not to kiss a woman without her consent even if no security cameras were rolling.

In tone, however, Trump’s response to the Post story is in line with his past responses to allegations of sexual misconduct. “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he said in October 2016. One woman, Summer Zervos, has sued Trump for defamation for accusing her of lying; her lawyers have subpoenaed all Trump campaign documents regarding “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.”

Crooks, meanwhile, returned to Ohio 10 months after moving to New York and has been there ever since. She saw her departure from New York as “one of the first real failures or defeats of my life, where the world wasn’t what I hoped it was going to be, and I started to really doubt myself,” she told Saslow. Now, however, she’s running for a seat in the Ohio state legislature.

“I think my voice should have been heard then, and I’ll still fight for it to be heard now,” Crooks told Cosmopolitan earlier this month. “Americans are really upset with politics as usual, and I want to be a voice for them.”