The already remarkable US presidential campaign has taken a stunning twist after Donald Trump issued a video apology after a recording surfaced in which he talked about doing anything he wanted to women, including groping and assaulting them without their consent.
Amid a storm of outcry after Mr Trump was seen bragging in 2005 of trying to have sex with a married women and saying that because he was a celebrity, he could “Grab ‘em by the p****,” the Republican candidate issued a video statement in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them," he said. "Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise."
The 70-year-old tycoon acted amid intense criticism, from the general public and the most senior members of his own party after the Washington Post revealed video from 13 years ago when the New York tycoon was recording a segment for Access Hollywood. He made a series of shocking and vulgar comments about his efforts to have sex with women, and at one point bragged out groping and assaulting women. It later emerged that one of the women he was referring to was the actress Nancy O'Dell.
The video apology, which followed a written statement in which Mr Trump sought to brush off the incident as "locker room banter", came amid reports that even at this stage, senior figures within the Republican Party were looking to see if they could dump him as their the candidate.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah summed up the mood of many when he said he could no longer support Mr Trump. “I wish that Mike Pence was at the top of the ticket,” he said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew an invitation to appear alongside him this weekend in Wisconsin. Mr Ryan described himself as “sickened” by Mr Trump’s remarks.
“I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” he said. “I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests. In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow’s event in Wisconsin.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, echoed the comments, calling on Mr Trump to express contrition.
“As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologise directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape,” he said.
Amid reports that Republican National Committee officials were meeting in Washington DC to discuss the possibility of Mr Trump dropping out of the race, RNC chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement, saying: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
Mr Trump had initially sought to brush off his comments.
People who will flee America if Donald Trump wins
People who will flee America if Donald Trump wins
1/8 Miley Cyrus
'God’ he thinks he is the f***ing chosen one or some shit! … Honestly f*** this sh*t I am moving if this is my president! I don’t say things I don’t mean!'
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
2/8 Whoopi Goldberg
'I don’t think that’s America. I don’t want it to be America. Maybe it’s time for me to move you know'
3/8 Samuel L. Jackson
'If that mother**er becomes president, I’m moving my black ass to South Africa'
4/8 Raven Symone
'My confession for this election is, if any Republican gets nominated, I’m gonna move to Canada with my entire family. Is that bad? I already have my ticket. I literally bought my ticket, I swear'
'If he were to be elected, I'm moving to Jupiter'
6/8 Neve Campbell
'I’m terrified. It’s really scary. My biggest fear is that Trump will triumph. I cannot believe that he is still in the game ... [I'll] move back to Canada'
7/8 Jon Stewart
'I would consider getting in a rocket and going to another planet, because clearly this planet’s gone bonkers'
8/8 Randy Blythe
'He could just be a clown. If he is the president, though, I am leaving America 'till he's gone'
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” his campaign said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologise if anyone was offended.”
His Democratic rival Hillary Clinton issued a quick response to the video, saying: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.”
In his video, released shortly after midnight, Mr Trump vowed to “be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down”.
But then he went on to attack Ms Clinton and her husband and suggested that he will continue this line of attack when he appears at the second presidential debate on Sunday night. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims,” he said.
“We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”Reuse content