The first four women reporters called on at the White House press briefing Monday all asked about the same issue: the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault against President Donald Trump.
In response, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration would be putting out “multiple reports” of eyewitness accounts refuting the allegations. It wasn’t immediately clear which reports she meant.
The questions were part of an especially heated briefing — Huckabee Sanders also fielded a number of questions regarding the attempted terror attack in New York City and Trump’s criticism of the media for corrected reporting errors.
They came after three of Trump’s accusers appeared on the Today show with Megyn Kelly and at a New York City press conference on Monday morning to recount their stories. In a statement to NBC News earlier in the day and again during the press briefing, the White House cited “eyewitness accounts” that discredit Trump’s accusers, but exactly what accounts those are is not clear.
first four women called on in the White House briefing today (@fran_chambers @kwelkernbc @MaraLiasson & i) asked @PressSec about Trump's behavior as it relates to sexual harassment --- pic.twitter.com/67ueOM7TfG— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) December 11, 2017
“In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts, there have been multiple reports; I’d be happy to provide them to you after the briefing is completed,” Huckabee Sanders said.
WH spox Sanders said they would provide a list of eyewitnesses refuting Trump's accusers after briefing today— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 11, 2017
The White House did not immediately return a request for details on the reports of eyewitness accounts. But the accusers, as they did during the campaign, have a piece of evidence in their favor: Trump’s own words.
During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign put forth one witness to refute claims made by Jessica Leeds, who alleged in a report published by the New York Times that Trump groped and kissed her on an airplane in the 1970s. The witness, a British man named Anthony Gilberthorpe, said he was on the flight with Leeds and Trump and that Leeds had in fact come on to Trump. “She wanted to marry him,” he told the New York Post in an interview arranged by the Trump campaign.
Gilberthorpe in 2014 made news as a whistleblower, claiming that as a 17-year-old he “procured” boys for sex parties with British politicians.
Leeds on Monday in her interview with Kelly disputed the validity of Gilberthorpe’s account. “If he was on the airplane, he was 17 years old, a British citizen, paying first class. I don’t think so,” she said, adding that she never owned a white pantsuit, which Gilberthorpe claimed he had seen her in. “It’s one of those [instances of] somebody trying to get in on the story,” she said.
Rachel Crooks, who alleged Trump kissed her when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a company in Trump Tower in 2006, told Kelly she would be glad for any surveillance footage from the Manhattan skyscraper to be made public. “Let’s get that out,” she said. “I’d be more than happy for [Trump] to let that surface.”
Beyond the accounts of Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct — or any eyewitness accounts disputing them — there are also Trump’s own comments seemingly owning up to his bad behavior.
In a 2005 interview with radio DJ Howard Stern, Trump bragged about going backstage into contestants’ dressing room at beauty pageants, an experience one of his accusers, Samantha Holvey, has recounted.
"You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone okay?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I've been very good," Trump told Stern.
And of course, there is the Access Hollywood tape, where Trump brags about committing sexual assault.
“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.”
Huckabee Sanders on Monday said the president has addressed the accusations against him directly and denied all of them, adding that the alleged incidents all took place long before he was elected president, anyway.
“The president has firsthand knowledge on what he did and didn’t do. He can speak directly to those, and he has,” she said.