Donald Trump is preparing to intensify his attacks on Bill Clinton as his faltering campaign threatens to be buried by an avalanche of sexual assault allegations.
As more and more women come forward with claims that they were assaulted by the Republican candidate – claims that he has stoutly denied – the tycoon’s campaign plans to respond by increasing its attacks on the former president, a technique employed at the second presidential debate. An adviser told the US media the campaign would “go buck wild”.
On a conference call with campaign staff on Tuesday, Steve Bannon, conservative media mogul who now heads the Republican’s campaign, reportedly said it was in touch with more women who said they were assaulted by Mr Clinton, husband of the Democrat candidate.
Bloomberg News said he told staff that Ms Clinton had led a programme of “victim intimidation”.
“This has nothing to do with consensual sexual affairs and infidelities. This is Bill. We’re going to turn him into Bill Cosby,” he reportedly said. “He’s a violent sexual predator who physically abuses women who he assaults. And she takes the lead on the intimidation of the victims.”
Barely hours before last Sunday’s second presidential debate, Mr Trump held a press conference, flanked by three women who have accused Mr Clinton of sexual harassment and misconduct.
“Thank you very much for coming. These four very courageous women have asked to be here and it was our honour to help them,” Mr Trump said. The women were Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.
“Mr Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” Ms Broaddrick said. Mr Clinton has denied the allegations over the years and and legal actions against him by the women have made little progress.
The campaign reportedly plans further events with the women, the first of which is scheduled to take place on Thursday night on Fox News.
Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, said she believed Mr Trump was trying to turn off independent voters who might be tempted to support Ms Clinton.
“These are the two least popular candidates in our history. [But] she has a huge advantage with women,” she told The Independent.
“If he brings up his record and portrays her as an ‘attack dog’, he will hope it will make some of those women think twice. There will also be people who, because it is all so unpleasant, don’t want to be any part of it.”
The development came as a flood of reports emerged of women who claimed they had been assaulted by the 70-year-old Republican candidate.
The New York Times interviewed two women who both claimed to have had unsavoury encounters with the reality TV star. Jessica Leeds, 74, said Mr Trump had groped her when the two were seated next to each other on a flight more than three decades ago.
Rachel Crooks, who worked for a firm based in Trump Tower in 2005, found herself in a lift with Mr Trump and tried to introduce herself by shaking his hand. The Apprentice star kissed Ms Crooks, then 22, “directly on the mouth”, she told the newspaper.
Mindy McGillivray, 36, told the Palm Beach Post that she was groped by Mr Trump during a party at his Florida property Mar-a-Lago 13 years ago, while former Apprentice contestant Jennifer Murphy told Grazia Mr Trump had kissed her on the lips at the end of a 2005 job interview.
Meanwhile, in an account published late on Wednesday night, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff recalled travelling to Mar-a-Lago to interview Mr Trump and his wife Melania, also in 2005.
Mr Trump, she claimed, had cornered her in private and “within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat”.
The Trump campaign condemned Ms Stoynoff’s story as “fabricated” and the New York Times piece as “fiction” and “a completely false, coordinated character assassination”. Mr Trump himself was said to be weighing a lawsuit against the newspaper, and, when called for comment on the accusations, told a Times reporter that she was a “disgusting human being”.
The women have come forward in the wake of last week’s emergence of a 2005 tape in which Mr Trump can be heard boasting about “grabbing” women “by the pussy”. At Sunday night’s second presidential debate, the Republican nominee insisted the remarks were merely “locker room talk” and denied he had ever engaged in such behaviour.Reuse content