During Sunday night's presidential debate, Donald Trump insisted that his infamously recorded boasts about sexually assaulting women were just that–words and nothing more. "Locker room talk," he called it.
If anyone ever believed Trump was telling the truth, chilling allegations from multiple women which were published in several news outlets on Wednesday night seriously challenged that contention.
The New York Times spoke to two different women who told the paper that Trump had physically violated them. One woman, Jessica Leeds, said that Trump "grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt" on a plane more than 30 years ago. Another, Rachel Crooks, said that Trump kissed her on the mouth without her consent in 2005. That was the same year that the leaked recording of Trump and then Access Hollywood reporter Billy Bush was taped. In the video, he claimed that he would “just start kissing" women without asking—just as Crooks alleged that he did.
The Palm Beach Post published a separate story on Wednesday night in which a woman named Mindy McGillivray said that Trump had groped her without her consent in 2003.
And People writer Natasha Stoynoff published a first-person story about a 2005 encounter with Trump when, she alleged, she "turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat."
All four women mentioned Trump's denials during Sunday's debate as part of the context of their revelations. McGillivray told the Post that, when she heard Trump say he never violated women, she shouted "You liar!" at the TV screen.
The series of cascading allegations, which came one after the other on Wednesday night, and the similarity of the women's stories recalled the wave of sexual harassment and abuse accusations that have hit other powerful men, such as Bill Cosby and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who happens to be a close adviser to Trump.
The stories landed the same day that BuzzFeed reported that, in 1997, Trump allegedly walked in on teenage beauty contestants while changing their clothes. "Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before," Trump allegedly said. He has also been accused of rape or attempted rape multiple times in the past contestants in the past, and of behaving inappropriately with dozens of women.
Trump and his campaign furiously contested all four stories. They lashed out at the Times in particular. Trump called Megan Twohey, the Times reporter who asked him for comment, a "disgusting human being," denying that the alleged violations had taken place. Later, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs reported that Trump was planning to sue the paper.